Canaries must not let Carabao Cup fun affect league progress again
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
As Norwich City's season continue to follow a rather recognisable pattern, David Freezer assesses the lessons learned from the Carabao Cup exploits of Daniel Farke's first campaign in charge of the Canaries.
There is a remarkable symmetry to the early stages of Norwich City's two seasons under head coach Daniel Farke.
What happens next is the big question for Canaries fans now, as league form improves and another Carabao Cup fourth round tie sits on the back-burner.
Last season that competition took City to Arsenal for a glamorous trip to the 60,000 capacity Emirates Stadium, taking Premier League opposition to extra-time in a valiant display – which proved rather costly.
Both campaigns began with spirited draws away from home, 1-1 at Fulham last year and 2-2 at Birmingham this season.
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Victory in the first round of the League Cup against lower-level opposition followed, in amongst a win and a defeat at Carrow Road and an away defeat, losing 4-2 at Villa in 2017 and 2-1 at Sheffield United last month. So far, so similar.
It was the fifth league game of both seasons which proved the turning point though, with that horrible 4-0 defeat at Millwall last year matched by a chastening 3-0 home loss to Leeds.
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From there a nine-game unbeaten run unfolded which breathed belief into the new regime being led by Farke and sporting director Stuart Webber.
Progress to the second round of the cup had been wrapped up with a 4-1 home win over League One side Charlton ahead of the Millwall game and a 1-0 Carrow Road victory over Birmingham following the first international break began an upturn in form.
This season the timings were slightly different, with a more impressive defeat of Premier League opposition in round two of the League Cup kick-starting things, thanks to a fine 3-1 success away to Cardiff. Then a disappointing draw at bitter rivals Ipswich at least held on to some potential momentum heading into the international break.
What has unfolded since has not only kept the comparisons running but overtaken the rapid progress that kicked the last campaign into life.
Four successive victories have stoked the Carrow Road coals, bringing supporters together in appreciation of renewed spirit and determination being added to the quality within the City squad.
So far it's a six-game unbeaten run and with another six league games to follow before the fourth round of the Carabao Cup, in the week beginning October 29, it's going to be quite an ask to remain unbeaten through until cup action returns.
The big difference will be that this season's fourth round tie won't arrive just two days after the East Anglian derby.
It's quite ridiculous when looking back on it but the Canaries won 1-0 at Ipswich on a Sunday afternoon and then went to Arsenal on a Tuesday night, making four changes to the starting line-up.
The heartbreak which followed at the Emirates, when youngster Eddie Nketiah salvaged extra-time in the 85th minute and then disappointed the 9,000 away fans with a winner, had a big effect.
A 10-game nosedive of one win in Championship games followed that draining evening, shredding any hopes of a successful first campaign for Farke.
So whoever the Canaries learn they will face in Saturday night's fourth round draw, it's safe to assume it's unlikely we'll be seeing a first-choice XI this time around – although City's second string have progressed well so far that doesn't necessarily mean an end to the fun.
The timing will be slightly more kind, following a home game against Brentford on Saturday, October 27 and preceding a trip to Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday, November 3. However, City's German coach is now well aware of the intensity of Championship demands, so even if it is another glamour tie league form will surely be the priority.
NCFC's 2017-18 start
• Fulham (a) – D 1-1
• LC1: Swindon (h) – W 3-2
• Sunderland (h)– L 3-1
• QPR (h) – W 2-0
• Aston Villa (a) – L 4-2
• LC2: Charlton (h) – W 4-1
• Millwall (a) – L 4-0
• Birmingham (h) – W 1-0
• Burton (h) – D 0-0
• Sheff Utd (a) – W 1-0
• LC3: Brentford (a) – W 3-1
• Bristol City (h) – D 0-0
League position: 13th (12 points)
NCFC's 2018-19 start
• Birmingham (h) – D 2-2
• West Brom (h) – L 4-3
• LC1: Stevenage (h) – W 3-1
• Sheff Utd (a) – L 2-1
• Preston (h) – W 2-0
• Leeds (h) – L 3-0
• LC2: Cardiff (a) – W 3-1
• Ipswich (a) – D 1-1
• Middlesbrough (h) – W 1-0
• Reading (a) – W 2-1
• QPR (a) – W 1-0
• LC3: Wycombe (a) – W 4-3
League position: 11th (14 points)