Will cup misery end for Norwich City with Alex Neil in the hot-seat?

Norwich manager Alex Neil with the trophy at the end of the Sky Bet Championship play-off final at W

Norwich manager Alex Neil with the trophy at the end of the Sky Bet Championship play-off final at Wembley Stadium, London. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Ahead of tonight's Capital One Cup second round draw David Freezer assesses the hopes of a cup run for Norwich City under Alex Neil.

Luton players celebrate their cup upset at Carrow Road in January 2013. Picture by Paul Chesterton/F

Luton players celebrate their cup upset at Carrow Road in January 2013. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Cup runs involving Norwich City have almost been as rare as Ipswich Town promotion parades in recent years.

Canaries fans have had to endure some miserable experiences in cup competitions in the past two decades – but could the Alex Neil era bring a greater appetite for knockout football?

The Scot has already proved he has the nerve for that pressure when leading his side to victory in the Championship play-offs at the end of last season.

Ipswich were, of course, the victims of the 34-year-old's ruthless nature in the semi-finals and Middlesbrough were unable to cope with City's intensity in the Wembley final.


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Tonight the Canaries discover their opponents in the second round of the Capital One Cup – a competition they were knocked out of by lower-league Shrewsbury Town during Neil Adams' tenure last term.

Many will argue that defeat was the beginning of the end for Adams as City boss, with a run of just two wins in the next 11 matches causing major damage to the club's promotion hopes.

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The former Canaries midfielder hung on until January, when defeat to another lower-level side in the FA Cup third round – losing 2-0 at Preston North End – proved the straw that broke the camel's back.

Those were far from the only embarrassing defeats suffered by City in cup competitions in the past decade though.

Luton Town, Leicester City and Leyton Orient all inflicted defeats on City as lower-level teams in the FA Cup, as did MK Dons – twice – and Port Vale in the League Cup.

To find the last time City were the giant-killers, you would need to go back to 1993 and the famous slaying of Bayern Munich in the Uefa Cup second round.

Nigel Worthington's team went close in 2001/02, when Carlo Cudicini performed brilliantly to deny City in a 0-0 draw at Carrow Road, only for Gianfranco Zola to score his famous back-heeled volley as the Blues won the replay 4-0 at Stamford Bridge.

Otherwise, there has been little magic for the Yellow Army to get excited about.

In the past decade the FA Cup adventure has not advanced beyond the third round seven times and come to an end with defeat to a lower-league team in five of the past 10 seasons. The League Cup has brought little more fun either, with defeat to a lower level team suffered four times in 10 years. The best run came in 2012/13 during Chris Hughton's first season in charge when Tottenham Hotspur were disposed on the way to a quarter-final against Aston Villa.

Just as the Canaries faithful were starting to get excited about a cup competition and a potential Wembley visit, Paul Lambert returned to Carrow Road and Christian Benteke inspired the visitors to a comprehensive 4-1 victory.

Of course that longing for a Wembley day out was met last season, ending a 30-year wait for a visit to the home of English football.

Could visits to Wembley prove to be like buses though – and two come along in quick succession?

Or will Neil follow the lead of so many other managers around the country of playing weakened teams in cup matches – emphasised once again on Tuesday when seven Championship sides were knocked out in the first round of the Capital One Cup?

There will certainly be plenty of City fans hoping they can at least dare to dream with Neil in charge.

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