Paddy Davitt verdict: Let them sneer. There is a reason why City should treasure the FA Cup
PUBLISHED: 15:07 26 January 2020 | UPDATED: 08:24 27 January 2020
Norwich City need a spark to ignite a Premier League survival bid. Why shouldn’t it come from an FA Cup run?
Daniel Farke and his much-changed Canaries opted to eschew the conventional wisdom the two are incompatible at Turf Moor.
One need only digest Sean Dyche's post-match comments to see what the prevailing logic is binding the majority of those outside the elite bracket.
Dyche stopped short of saying he had sacrificed cup progress for another season of Premier League broadcast revenue.
But the implication was clear. So too the evidence, given for all his undoubted success in achieving top flight sustainability Dyche has only guided Burnley beyond the fourth round once in seven years.
It tells you everything about the Premier League's omnipotence he felt unable to do all he could to alter a damning statistic. All the more remarkable when viewed through Norwich's own survival struggles that it came after league wins over Leicester City and Manchester United, which appeared to have eased any lingering relegation fears.
That threat is all too real for Farke's club.
Barring the 'little miracle' he talks about liberally it is a fight they are seemingly destined to lose. But there is none of the victim in the manner City have attacked this huge challenge on both fronts.
Norwich have been maddeningly close from tipping performances into a consistent seam of league results.
None more so than at Tottenham days before their FA Cup fourth round quest. Critics could point to self-inflicted wounds, a failure to take chances or just plain bad luck in the manner of Spurs' deflected winner.
But seasoned watchers of the Canaries this season would have told you that was as good a Premier League awayday as they had produced.
To back it up at Burnley - whatever the relative lack of motivation in the home ranks or affection for the FA Cup - was another positive sign.
Try telling those in green and yellow on the pitch at Turf Moor the FA Cup no longer matters.
Or that magnificent away support, who trekked to Lancashire hoping for the best but perhaps fearing another bruising episode and repeat of that early-season 2-0 Premier League defeat.
The huge changes in personnel and the absence of three points at stake make comparisons between the two games impossible. But Norwich, as a collective, have improved immeasurably from their previous Burnley defeat.
They were robust physically and brave in their possession. Mario Vrancic had the protection he needed from Tom Trybull to set the tempo and shape the cup win with two gorgeous deliveries.
The first powered home by a thumping header from Grant Hanley that begged the question why City have failed to muster greater productivity from set pieces. The second was German precision engineering.
Vrancic clipping a gorgeous ball over the top, after picking out Lukas Rupp's run, and although Joe Hart parried his initial chip Josip Drmic's predatory instincts ensured it was a simple close range tap in.
Rupp and Drmic celebrated in front of the away end with an intensity that told you this game did matter.
It mattered on a personal level for two players striving to force their way into Daniel Farke's Premier League plans.
It mattered to Ralf Fahrmann, who has had little opportunity to construct a viable case to threaten Tim Krul's hegemony.
It mattered even for Hanley, who may have had league exposure but was eased out to accommodate Ben Godfrey before his Bournemouth red card.
Most of Farke's cup fighters may not have done enough to start at Newcastle, but it will certainly raise the tempo at training this week, and those in possession know if standards drop there are viable alternatives.
The City head coach, in a more reflective moment, might concede that has not been the case often enough.
A chronic run with injuries to a squad constructed without the depth of their rivals has not afforded the German the luxury to tinker with personnel or formations. Norwich needed that degree of devilment to keep bigger and richer opponents off-balance.
But the cards have been dealt. And that is why it will take a 'little miracle' from here.
Yet a dollop of cup excitement, a tantalising prospect they are now two wins from a Wembley semi-final, and the injection of confidence in the days ahead could be invaluable commodities.
The FA Cup still retains magical properties.
Even if Norwich City appear to hold the minority view.
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Eastern Daily Press. Click the link in the orange box above for details.