Daniel Farke’s big dilemma ahead of Carabao Cup clash against Stevenage
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Daniel Farke will negotiate a tricky balancing act when the Canaries take on Stevenage in the Carabao Cup this evening.
The competition provided one of the highlights of last season when City came so close to pulling off an upset in the fourth round until Arsenal youngster Eddie Nketiah came off the bench to rescue the Premier League giants after Josh Murphy had put the visitors in front.
There looked to only be good times ahead following that glorious defeat. Going into the match against Gunners, City were unbeaten in nine games and fans were starting to dream that the club's transition under Farke had bedded in quickly enough for a promotion challenge to be launched.
MORE: Norwich City's keeper conundrumBut their monumental efforts in north London proved to be their undoing and all that momentum was lost a few days later when Derby won 2-1 at Carrow Road and it started a run of seven games without a win. No-one ever seriously entertained even a play-off place after that.
Fans love a cup run and Norwich's record in this competition has been decent in recent seasons, reaching fourth round in the last three seasons.
But the majority would prefer a result in the league at Bramall Lane on Saturday because if City emerge pointless from Yorkshire then the pressure will start cranking up on Farke and the German knows as much. A win tonight will soon be forgotten if the Canaries get done by Chris Wilder and Co.
There was a hint in Monday's press conference that Farke is willing to use the competition for some of his players to gain some much-needed minutes for the games ahead.
'We will change a bit more,' he said. 'Last season I got the feeling perhaps some positions, although for some of the cup games perhaps the lads were not 100 percent recovered, we couldn't do without their quality.
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'Now we have a lot of competition in the squad who were not even involved in the travelling squad for the last games and you see how much quality is in there.'
MORE: Why I like watching Norwich City in the wildernessFelix Passlack and Max Aarons are likely to start whilst players like Grant Hanley and Alex Tettey that haven't had a full pre-season of conditioning behind them will not be risked. They will be needed at the weekend and beyond.
But he needs to get some game time into players like Passlack, Aarons, Christoph Zimmermann, Louis Thompson and Dennis Srbeny.
That could provide an opportunity for a Stevenage side that will put City under pressure with a direct approach and buoyed by a 3-1 win at the weekend against Crawley.
City should have enough quality if they play the game on their terms against their League Two opponents but whether Farke has a team that's up to speed enough to do that remains to be seen.
Lose this evening and even greater pressure is applied to the weekend and a patient City fanbase will begin to demand an improvement.