Manchester United vs. Norwich: view from the oppo

Shinji Kagawa, Manchester United v Norwich
Shinji Kagawa scores a hattrick against Norwich for Manchester United in the fixture last March.

Norwich City have are unbeaten in the League Cup against Manchester United. Ok, the two clubs may have only met three times, a two legged semi final in 1975 (which ended as 2-2 at Old Trafford and 1-0 to Norwich at Carrow Road) and a 4-1 drubbing in the 3rd round away in East Anglia sixteen years before Adnan Januzaj was even born (bet that makes you feel old), but history is on the side of the Canaries. United hammered Norwich 4-0 in March, with a superb hattrick from Shinji Kagawa and an excellent long range effort by Wayne Rooney.

The fixture will surely give David Moyes a chance to rotate his side and give the likes if Zaha, and Hernandez a run out. United travel to struggling Fulham on Saturday afternoon and the Manchester United manager will want to ensure he has a full strength squad, so expect the likes of Rooney, van Persie and Carrick to be rested.

Seatwave have some great prices on Manchester United hospitality tickets and a wide range of packages and deals.

We have our usual Norwich City fan Gary Gowers lined up to answer a few questions. Gary’s writing can be found here and you can follow him on Twitter too.

1) Norwich have won the league cup twice since the competition started in 1961. What are your memories of the win in 1985 and how do you fancy your chances in this year’s competition?

I wasn’t even a glint in my dad’s eye when we won the League Cup in the early sixties – so hard for me to comment, although the football world was a very different beast beck then – but can still vividly recall the 1985 triumph.

The Wembley final was obviously an amazing day – even though the game itself against Sunderland wasn’t one for the purist – but the abiding memory is the two-legged semi-final win over that lot down the road.

Steve Bruce (remember him?) scored the winner at Carrow Road with the epitome of a thumping header. It remains my favourite City memory of all time.

2) Leroy Fer admitted that he wanted to win the game when he scored on Saturday. What was your take on the events and Fer’s response following the controversial ‘goal’?

We love Leroy in these parts – he’s without question been our stand out player so far this season – but he got it wrong on Saturday. If the referee had awarded the goal I can’t believe we wouldn’t have reciprocated.

The negative PR simply would have been a disaster, not to mention the three points feeling a tad *tainted*.

3) The canaries have only score six league goals so far in the league this season. Why have you found goals so hard to come by so far? What have you made of van Wolfswinkel?

The million dollar question… and the source of most of the heat currently heading in Chris Hughton’s direction. Ricky van W has certainly found life tough and had struggled to cope with the physical intensity of the PL. The signs are promising however, and he’s finding his feet albeit slower than we’d hoped.

Gary Hooper’s chances have been limited – not helped by an injury he picked up in pre-season – but on another day he could have had a hat-trick against Cardiff on Saturday. Again, the signs are promising but, frustratingly, not bearing fruit right now.

We currently play with one out and out striker which – while ensuring we have a decent chunk of possession in midfield – limits the ability to throw too many bodies into the box. How to strike the right balance is the biggest part of the Hughton conundrum right now.

4) You’ve beaten Bury and Watford in the previous two rounds. How would you summarise both performances?

Two cracking games actually; the Bury game was a goal-fest where our extra quality finally saw us through and at Watford we managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat – only a last minute header in normal time from Hooper saving us from an early exit.

5) Is Chris Houghton the right man for the job and is there any advise you would give him if you saw him in the street?

In my opinion at least, he is still the man for the job but I’m in an ever decreasing majority (for now at least). Many have long decided he’s not the man for us and the current poor run of results had given them a platform.

If I bumped into him in the street I’d advise him to ignore the boo-boys and continue to evolve his team. Patience is something in short supply in these parts right now, but some of us can see the signs of a decent side emerging.

I may also remind him that it’s OK to substitute Snodgrass when he’s having one of his off days!

6) Who is the greatest Norwich player of all time and how much do you miss the clashes with Ipswich?

Wow… what a question. Hard to know where to start, but in my living memory (and I apologise in advance) one Darren Huckerby is without doubt the pick of the bunch. Probably the best winger ever to fly down the Carrow Road left wing, he had all to rare ability of winning games single-handedly. A legend.

7) How will you line up at Old Trafford?

I expect Hughton to make use of the squad and give a game to those on the fringes – probably the same as Moyes – with a likely eight or nine changes from the side that drew so disappointingly with Cardiff. So… hard to predict but expect to come up against the likes of Ryan Bennett, Mark Bunn (if fit), Bradley Johnson and Johan Elmander.

8) Do you expect many youngsters to play in the tie? Are there any standout players we should look out for?

While we have a decent group of youngsters at the moment – the Under 18s won last season’s FA Youth Cup – the only one likely to feature is Josh Murphy, who played a key role in the comeback at Watford. He – along with his twin brother Jacob – will hopefully start to make his mark at first-team level over the year or so.

9) What is your most memorable match against Manchester United over the years?

Most memorable match with Utd: While last season’s 1-0 win is clearly the freshest in the memory, the 1-0 win at Old Trafford in December 1986 – the early days of Sir Alex’s reign – is one that will stay forever in my memory. The sight and sounds of a floundering Gary Pallister getting slaughtered by the red faithful still resonates as if it were yesterday.

10) United and Norwich have only ever met twice in the League cup with United losing both. Once in the 1975 League Cup semi final (which Norwich won over two legs) and a 4-1 thumping at Carrow Road in 1979 ! How confident are you that history can repeat itself!?

Not particularly! Given that your board deemed it OK to charge the travelling City faithful £46 for the pleasure of watching Man Utd reserves, the travelling support will likely be smaller in number than normal. I’m fearful the atmosphere may suffer as a result, and even more fearful that those hardy travelling souls will return home to East Anglia with another defeat to mull over.

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