Ask the Opposition

Ask the Opposition 4 – Norwich

After disappointment in the Capital One Cup semi-final first leg against Everton, City are once again in domestic cup duty against Norwich City. The Canaries have recently found form after an inconsistent start to the season, and Saturday’s game has all the makings of an enthralling FA Cup tie. City go into Saturday’s game in shocking form after yet another away defeat. Against Everton, it was the same old story. City were outfought and again lacking defensive discipline as goals from Funes Mori and Lukaku handed Everton a 2-1 advantage ahead of the second leg.

Ahead of the game we caught up with Rob Butler from BBC Radio Norfolk to discuss the two sides.

After a fairly inconsistent start to the season, you’ve suddenly found a rich vein of form, with impressive performances against Southampton and Arsenal. With that in mind, what are your expectations for this season?

I really think we can stay up fairly comfortably. We’ve got a brilliant young manager in Alex Neil and good owners with the club’s best interests at heart. It’s up to the board to now back the manager in this transfer window and spend some money to push us on. You forgot to mention us smashing Man United… I know they are just a mid-table team now but it was still excellent to win at Old Trafford!

Since he joined the club in January of last year, it’s fair to say Alex Neil has done a remarkable job. Did you envisage him to have the impact he did? And also, how far can he take Norwich?

Alex Neil was a complete unknown when we got him, it was a total and utter shock. But he immediately won most fans over after inspiring 10 men to a win at high flying Bournemouth. He’s a fantastic, bright young manager. He’s very much in the mould of Paul Lambert who will always be a hero to City fans after the heroics he performed taking the club from League One back to the Prem.

Looking at your squad, there is a core of very good players. I look at Redmond, Mulumbu, Hoolahan and Ruddy, all of whom are proven Premier League quality. With us now being in January, do you expect any additions to the squad, and what areas need replenishing?

We definitely need to strengthen and push the boat out a bit (that’s what all fans say in January!). We need a top class centre-back and a poacher up front. Cameron Jerome is a real fan favourite but he just doesn’t score enough in the Premier League. We have Dieumerci Mbokani on loan from Dynamo Kiev and he is starting to find his feet.

Youth development is a huge part of the modern game, and I’m interested in hearing how Norwich are doing on that front. Are there any rising stars who may find themselves breaking into the first team squad?

That’s something we’ve been lacking at Norwich. The last real top class youngster we brought through to have a good career was probably Robert Green. Since then it’s been fairly barren. We did win the FA Youth Cup a couple of years ago but most of those players have now left. Back in the 90s we brought on the likes of Craig Bellamy and Darren Eadie, we need to get back to producing those kind of excellent players.

At Manchester City we have our own celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver, who has changed the whole menu at the club. What’s the food like at half time at Norwich, with Delia serving Ed’s Balls?

I’m stuck up in a gantry usually so don’t get a chance to try it sadly.

We’ve talked about Norwich a lot now, so I’m eager to get your thoughts on Manchester City. What are your perceptions of the club? And if you could have any player, who would it be?

I’d have Aguero please! What a player. He’s got everything in his play that I love about our game…speed, strength, trickery. A bit like a young Darren Huckerby!

I have a lot of time for Manchester City… a proper club, with proper fans who deserve the success they are getting. Coming to the Etihad is a pleasure, such a superb stadium. I’ll be back in the summer for the Stone Roses gig, can’t wait!!

Finally, what are your predictions for the game Saturday and can we expect Alex Neil to rotate? Or do you think he’ll put a strong side out and go for FA Cup glory?

Our FA Cup record recently is abysmal. The fans demand a run but sadly I think as always staying up will be priority so expect a few fringe players to be involved. I’ll take a draw and a replay at your place right now!

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