It was clear to those in attendance that West Bromwich Albion had not turned up to provide much of a threat on Wednesday night, however there was one player who, for me, showed that spark of class needed to break into the first-team and put Alex Neil under pressure for Saturday’s team selection.
With only 46 league appearances for City to his name, Ryan Bennett is considered in some circles of fans as the promise that was never fulfilled. Joining in 2012, Bennett was dubbed as a player full of talent, with a true leadership streak. Injuries have marred his progress and at 25, he is still looking to fulfill the labels put on him at the early stages of his career.
Yet, on Wednesday night I saw in Bennett all the qualities that were mentioned in the original hype. Composure, leadership and confidence were all on display and, on that basis, I would argue he now deserves another crack at the Premier League.
With a sharp West Brom counter attack escalating into a one-on-one opportunity, extra-time seemed an almost certainty until Bennett came in with what I could only imagine was a costly leg extension found only in the lab of Inspector Gadget.
With Martin Olsson showing an obvious lack of match sharpness, Brady looks to have the left-back position as his own for now, and with Seb Bassong and Russell Martin both putting in fantastic performances against Liverpool, the available positions are dwindling. However I think a change could work in Norwich’s favour – Martin shifting over to right-back and allowing Bennett to come in at centre could present another defensive combination that could be utilised throughout the season.
But glancing back to Wednesday night, is it now time to pursue a cup run?
For many years now City fans have had to prepare themselves for the disappointment of dropping out of the League or FA cup after a lacklustre performance at home or away to lesser opposition, with the most recent chance of a Wembley trip in the cup being thrown away to a poor Aston Villa side, managed at the time by one Paul Lambert.
I am confident this season that we not only have the drive to win every game we play, but also the depth in squad to handle a cup run alongside the inevitable gruelling Premier League schedule over the autumn and winter months. Everton (a) is going to be a tough fixture – extremely tough, as Martinez will be keen to go as far as he can in the competition – but Alex Neil has that “we can beat anybody” attitude, which is always going to land us with a fighting chance, even if we make six or seven changes for the game.
Would I be disappointed if we lost to Everton in the League Cup and went and won the following Saturday? Of course not, because our focus and priority should be finishing as high as possible in the division – but another chance to go to Wembley?
It has to be in the back of the players minds, especially those who didn’t feature in the Play-Off FInal. With our performances in the league showing we can hold our own against any side, I’ve no doubt Alex Neil will guide us higher than the minimum requirement of safety so is this the year to pursue a cup run? Why not…
Follow Matthew on Twitter @norfolkcanary_
Cosmo P says
There seems to be a clamour for Lafferty and Ryan B. after the LC game but unless there’s injuries, they will remain as back-ups probably.
Lafferty took his goal superbly but did have the advantage of being up against a tired defence (fresh when Grabban was on), while Pulis left out his main strikers, making it a relatively easy night for our defenders.
The default back four will be severely tested today by the Hammers but there is no way AN is going to put RM at RB anytime soon. Clearly he rates him at CB unlike some fans.
Ben K says
An interesting stat: finishing two places higher in the league will earn you more money than winning the league cup and the FA cup. I would still love a cup run, but when survival and after that, cash, are so important you can understand that it’s not high on the club’s agenda.