Norwich City column: David Wagner should have given young players a chance in Bristol Rovers FA Cup tie
There has been plenty to grumble about in the wake of Norwich City’s 1-1 FA Cup draw with Bristol Rovers last weekend.
I thought the League One side were more than deserving of their replay – which has since taken on extra significance for The Gas, given the victor will travel to Anfield in the next round.
That’s because David Wagner’s side put in the kind of display that we’ve become accustomed to: wholly uninspiring.
How Ben Knapper and those in charge at Carrow Road still see Wagner as the man to take the club forward truly baffles me (but I refuse to go into that again).
What particularly annoyed me was the team selection. There is a small part of me that can understand why Wagner went for an experienced line-up, as he is a man desperate for some positive results.
It feels as if doing so goes against the grain of what this club is about. Over the years, we have been famed for giving youth a chance – and what better opportunity is there to do so than in cup competitions?
I think of Max Aarons being handed a debut against Stevenage in the League Cup – and how that expediated his development. And of course, how could you forget Adam Idah netting an FA Cup treble against Preston at just 18 years of age?
But against Bristol Rovers, our next generation of young talent was nowhere to be seen (with the exception of Kellen Fisher).
What was the point of playing Danny Batth and Adam Forshaw? Two players who, in all honesty, don’t have a future at this club beyond the end of the season – perhaps even the end of this transfer window.
I hear the word ‘pathway’ banded about a lot, and it’s correct. If we want to continue to attract the best young talent, they need to know first-team opportunities will be there for the taking.
At the moment, that is not happening.