Paddy’s Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City’s 2-2 FA Cup draw against Southampton
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Our Norwich City correspondent Paddy Davitt delivers his snap verdict from Carrow Road
1. Magic of the cup? Or just an inconvenience? - A half-empty stadium and at times two much-changed teams seemingly going through the motions. For long spells this felt like an afterthought of a game. Which is a sad reflection on the status of the FA Cup in the footballing calendar. There was a general air of disinterest on the terraces matched at times by a lack of intensity from both sets of players. One to endure rather than enjoy.
2. Pricing policy - 12,479 shuffled into Carrow Road. Many will take that as a protest over the pricing policy and perhaps a visible sign of the frustration from many sections of Norwich's support towards a season listing badly, after all that early promise. Norwich's top brass may not have been able to do anything about the latter, as they rely on Alex Neil and his squad to deliver on the pitch, but they could have used this as an opportunity to build some bridges and entice a new constituency, and a younger element, who do not attend league games. There was little innovative about the pricing policy but City were hardly alone in failing to spark excitement for an FA Cup tie. The sparse attendances up and down the country reflect an antipathy with the competition alongside any local disenchantment.
3. South-coast jaunt - City's willingness not to concede defeat earned them another shot at the Saints and a rare place in Monday's fourth round draw. But they may have cause to view a replay on the south-coast as an unwanted distraction to the main task of repairing their Championship promotion bid. A home tie is one thing but a long haul to a Premier League club who will no doubt restore some of their frontline options to the starting line up hardly holds much appeal.
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4. Pray for Timm - The one thing Alex Neil did not want is fresh injuries to any of his key players. The sight of Timm Klose hobbling away from the action seconds after Maya Yoshida's headed goal in the second half looked to be the poster image for another tame FA Cup exit. City hit back through Steven Naismith but the extent of Klose's injury is likely to be the lasting legacy. It evoked memories of his knee ligament damage at Crystal Palace which ended his Premier League campaign last season. One can only hope the prognosis is not as gloomy this time around because Klose is badly needed at the heart of a central defence which has been breached with worrying regularity.
5. Another small step - No points at stake but this was a third game unbeaten. Norwich need to find a genuinely consistent seam to achieve anything tangible over the coming weeks and months. Too often on that wretched pre-festive run it was one step forward and many back. City will not always play well but they need to be resolute in the fallow periods and dominant when they hit their stride, like last week against Derby. They should draw plenty of confidence from hitting back twice against a decent Premier League outfit.