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Lacklustre Norwich Unceremoniously Dumped Out of the Carling Cup

Thursday 25th August 2011
Fringe Players Fail to Threaten Starting XI

To be frank, the Carling Cup isn't held in high esteem by many Premier League managers; last night Mick McCarthy reiterated this by saying he was unaware of which round Wolverhampton FC were competing in. Playing poorly, or even losing in the Cup is not a big deal, nevertheless a 0-4 drubbing at home can be cause of concern for the fringe players involved.Clichés idolise a cup run for reasons such as; 'winning promotes momentum' and that it helps to promote a 'healthy attitude'. Yet losing this game will hardly affect the Norwich squad, I'm sure the starting XI playing Chelsea this weekend will not think twice about the result. The biggest issue lies with the fringe players who failed to impress the supporters and Paul Lambert last night. As the manager stated, some of these players will make up the 25-man-squad, yet if the likes of Adam Drury, Aaron Wilbraham, Daniel Ayala, Korey Smith and even Russell Martin are called upon, I for one doubt their quality.

Eleven changes were made from the side who played Stoke at the weekend, yet there was some Premiership pedigree on the pitch; Wes Hoolahan, David Fox, Andrew Surman and Zak Whitbread all started against Wigan. MK Dons fielded a strong side, with promising striker, Sam Baldock leading the strikeforce.

The entirety of the ninety minutes was disappointing from a Norwich perspective, especially those who had travelled hundreds of miles, yet nothing can be taken away from MK Dons. Slick movement saw the impressive Stephen Gleeson slip in former Canary, Luke Chadwick for his first goal of the night. Only a few minutes later, a mistake from Adam Drury saw Baldock thunder in a second from outside the box, leaving Norwich supporters bemused and shell-shocked.

Thankfully Jabo Ibhere; who had ran the Norwich backline ragged in the first half, was substituted at half time. Yet MK Dons continued to dominate. One long-range, effort from Andrew Surman was well tipped over by David Martin but Norwich chances were few and far between. One nearby supporter actually thought Wilbraham was a second-half sub, such was his anonymity. The half saw Chadwick team up with ex-Tractor boy Dean Bowditch, their quick interchange saw the former easily beat Declan Rudd, as Norwich fans began to contemplate an early night. The 13,000 strong Canary faithful had their misery compounded when Surman's woeful pass let substitute Daniel Powell to nip in for MK Don's fourth goal.

Norwich's performance was terrible; yet the players who performed the worst, are supposedly pushing for Premier League starting positions. Russell Martin, perhaps low in confidence after being dropped, had a frightfully poor game and failed to find any sort of form. Perhaps occasional bad defending can be excused for Martin's normally strong offensive game, yet in this tie he looked uncomposed on the ball and repeatedly delivered poor final balls. Norwich stalwart and legend Drury, who has been plagued by injuries, unfortunately looks past his best and struggled massively against Dons winger, Gleeson. Furthermore, recent loanee Ayala who not only struggled against the powerful Ibehre, got himself injured by half-hearted going into a 50-50 tackle late in the game. Not only are Norwich now a defender short, yet Ayala's commitment now comes under question. As for Wilbraham; the less said, the better.

There is no need to overemphasise the importance of this game, the Carling Cup could have provided a exciting cup-run for Norwich, yet the story of Birmingham City FC tells otherwise. Nevertheless, the fringe players performance will not only ensure that they stay out of the starting XI for the Chelsea match, but it asks question about their quality for participating in the 25-man-squad for the Premiership season.

Hopefully, if the likes of Ayala and Martin are called upon in the struggle for Premier League survival, their performance will resemble nothing from what was on offer last night.

Bring on Chelsea.

Sam Fryer

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