Darren Eadie - Time for FA Cup run now Norwich City are safe in Premier League
Darren Eadie is confident Norwich City have enough Premier League points to accommodate a bit of FA Cup excitement – as his two former clubs prepare for fifth round battle.
The Canaries take on Leicester City at Carrow Road on Saturday (3pm), bidding to reach the quarter-finals of the competition for the first time since 1992, the year before Eadie made his first team debut. And the former player of the season believes Paul Lambert's men can afford to go all out for a place in the last eight without having to worry about the effects on their top-flight progress.
'Cup competitions can be a bit of a distraction when you're down the bottom end of the league, as Birmingham and Portsmouth have found, but once you've established yourselves – and Norwich are clearly safe in the Premier League now – I don't think it can do anything but good,' said Eadie. 'A good FA Cup run is brilliant. From a player's point of view you want to achieve as much as you can in your career, so to get as far as you can in a competition like the FA Cup is a massive bonus.
'It makes things a little bit easier that things are going so well in the Premier League. A good Cup run can also feed into your league form. It's not often we get the chance to talk about it. It's been a great achievement by the boys in the league but it would be great to get into the quarter-finals or semi-finals of the FA Cup and maybe have a chance of getting into the final. The last few years there has often been a so-called lesser team making the final and we'd like to be one of those this year.'
Eadie, 36, speaking at yesterday's Community Sports Foundation event – he is the charity's latest ambassador – never went beyond the fifth round in his Norwich career, which brought him 204 senior appearances and 38 goals.
But he did go one step further with Leicester in 2001, within two rounds of the first final to be held in Cardiff, before they were on the wrong end of a shock result.
'Unfortunately I was in the Leicester team that lost to Wycombe at home in the quarter-finals,' he said.
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'It was very disappointing to get that far and not get any further. I think when you get to the fifth round you start to believe you can do it. In the earlier rounds you play to get into the next round but when you get to the fifth round you start looking a little bit further to Wembley.'
He also featured in the Norwich side the last time they met Leicester in the FA Cup, a 2-1 fourth round defeat at Filbert Street in 1997: 'It's one of those games you try to forget when you lose. I always try to remember the ones that we won,' he said.
'I hope Norwich will be getting one back on them on Saturday. I played for both clubs and have a foot in both camps, but I think no Leicester fan will begrudge me supporting Norwich as I was here as a kid, came through the ranks and spent a lot of time here.'
Despite that, Eadie retains an affection for Leicester, the club he joined in 1999 for �3m, playing 47 games before injury ended his career prematurely in 2003.
'I've always seen Leicester as a very similar size club to Norwich. When I left Norwich and went to Leicester, it was an easy fit because they were in the Premier League at the time, a family-run club like Norwich,' he said.
'I was really optimistic about them at the start of the season with the kind of signings Sven-Goran Eriksson made but it hasn't worked out and Nigel Pearson has come in and steadied the ship.
'If you asked them, they'd rather be challenging at the top of the Championship than having this Cup run but if they're mid-table a good FA Cup run is just as important to them as it is to us.'
As for a prediction: 'I'd have to go with Norwich because they're playing incredible football at the minute. The silver lining for me is that if Norwich do happen to lose it can be to someone like Leicester – but I'd like to see Norwich win first.'