City cup success is well overdue
CHRIS WISE Nigel Worthington is a firm believer in the magic of the FA Cup - and he feels it's high time his Norwich City side got a taste of it. The Canaries will be looking to improve on a truly dismal recent record in the country's premier knock-out competition when they entertain West Ham in an attractive-looking third round tie this afternoon.
Nigel Worthington is a firm believer in the magic of the FA Cup - and he feels it's high time his Norwich City side got a taste of it.
The Canaries will be looking to improve on a truly dismal recent record in the country's premier knock-out competition when they entertain West Ham in an attractive-looking third round tie this afternoon.
The club once famed for their cup exploits have only got past this stage once in the previous eight years, with last season's defeat against the same opposition at Upton Park being the latest in a long line of early exits.
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Since taking charge at Norwich over five years ago Worthington has presided over just two FA Cup wins, with both coming during the 2002-3 campaign when Brighton and non-league Dagenham and Redbridge were despatched at Carrow Road before the Canaries came unstuck at Southampton, who were then a Premiership side.
There's no doubt that a prolonged run in the competion is long overdue and the manager is determined to set the record straight this season, even though reaching the Championship play-offs remains his No. 1 priority.
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"The FA Cup is a magic competition, there is no doubt about that,” said Worthington, who was part of the Sheffield Wednesday team that lost to Arsenal in the replayed final of the 1992-93 competition.
“I would think around the world the competition is seen as a very special trophy, and one to try to get your hands on.
"Getting to a final is a special moment in anyone's career, as I know from personal experience.
"If you asked me what I would prefer, a place in the play-off final or a place in the FA Cup final, I would say play-off final every time - but I would happily take both.”
He added: “We haven't had a great record in this competition in recent years and I had a few harsh words to say when we put in a disappointing display down there in the third round last season. But we are looking forward rather than back now - and there is another big game coming up.
“We have got Premiership opposition at Carrow Road, so I am looking for a good performance and a good result.
“After the intensity of the Christmas period, when then were four games in eight days and it was a case of points, points, points it's nice game to have a different target, to get into the next round of the FA Cup. It won't be a breather - it's another very important game for us. If we can pick up where we left off in 2005 then I'm sure we will give them plenty to think about.”
The Hammers passed Norwich on the way up to the Barclays Premiership last season, winning the play-off final after the Canaries had seen their top-flight ambitions end on the final day of the season.
Pardew's men have impressed on their return to England's elite, currently sitting comfortably in mid-table, despite a recent blip in form. And Worthington reflected: "West Ham have been excellent all the way through the first half of the season, and have acclimatised well to the Premiership.
"They have gone out and spent good money in the summer to get players in - goalkeeper Roy Carroll was on a free, but is paid quite nicely, and then there's the two boys from Cardiff - Danny Gabbidon and James Collins - the Charlton left-back Paul Konchesky and one or two others.
"If you spend money and get quality in, then you have always got a chance.”
The Hammers will be aiming to put a run of three straight defeats behind them today but the Norwich manager isn't reading too much into the mini slump that has seen Pardew's men lose to Wigan (0-2), Charlton (0-2) and Chelsea (1-3), with two of those defeats coming at home
"Knowing Alan, he will be wanting to get the show back on the road and looking for a good performance, and a result,” he said.
"We have got to try to make sure it does not happen.”