Over-confidence? Just genuine FA Cup excitement at Norwich City
Admit it – who is starting to feel a bit of FA Cup magic? When Norwich City pulled Leicester City out of the plastic bowl-shaped hat on Sunday, there was palpable excitement – especially on Twitter.
For some Foxes fans, that translated into over-confidence that the Canaries already had a ticket for the quarter-finals in their possession, when I would expect the reality is anything but.
Leicester’s Championship season has been indifferent but they are far from mugs. Well funded, well supported, with a manager just starting to (re)settle in and having kept three clean sheets in their last three games.
But I don’t think that immediate post-draw perception of the yellow army’s reaction is accurate – more to do with avoiding both the clutch of remaining Premier League big boys and the prospect of a long trip out of Norfolk.
“Thank God we’re at home,” tweeted Grant Holt. Quite. The modest cheer in this office told the same story.
Norwich’s miraculous league success in recent seasons has certainly made up for what has been a terrible run in cup competitions for the club – although, by the very nature of knock-out football, this doesn’t automatically mean terrible performances. Well, not routinely at least.
City have been dumped out by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge more than once recently and succumbed to away failures frequently.
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By my recollections, there was a 1-1 fifth round League Cup draw with Birmingham in 1995-96 at Carrow Road – before an exit in the replay at St Andrew’s.
That is it – the only truly meaningful cup tie at Carrow Road since Norwich City took on Europe in 1993-94. Only a few seasons before, City twice made the FA Cup semis as a top-flight side.
Clearly there’s no cup comparison with those past achievements at the moment – but fans of a City persuasion are at least entitled to a little bit of cup excitement on the weekend of February 18.
The rather ethereal ‘magic’ of the cup has taken a battering over recent years as people try to link it to something tangible – say falling attendances. Yet at the weekend Norwich took approaching 4,000 to The Hawthorns. Swansea and Birmingham did likewise at Bolton and Sheffield United, respectively, while Leicester took 8,000 to their third round clash with neighbours Nottingham Forest.
Yes, the football world has changed. It’s now league football keeping clubs in existence – a few years ago those sixth round draws at Old Trafford brought the big bucks.
No points for stating that retaining the Premier League cash pot is rightly Norwich’s primary goal this season.
Swansea agreed – treating their 4,000 travelling fans on Saturday to 10 changes from their last top-flight starting line-up.
But at least, even in a fledgling way, Carrow Road can taste a little bit of cup magic this time around. It’s been a while.