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Norwich City: Analysis of David Wagner award nomination

Given the cloud that had assembled over the football club at the end of last season, those internally knew the margin for error was impossible. The importance of a quick start was not lost on anyone. 

It was big for David Wagner. It was big for Stuart Webber. It was big for all City officials. 

Shifting the mood was the key. One month into the new campaign, City have taken 10 points from a possible 15 and some are already but cautiously beginning to dream of sunlit uplands that may await them in the future. 

For that to be the circumstance in early September was unthinkable just a matter of weeks ago. It has come as a major relief for all of the key stakeholders who were battered by the bruising conclusion to last season and constant conflict. 

Few expected, at the end of last season, that positivity could be restored so quickly. 

Jonathan Rowe’s early season form, the impact of Ashley Barnes and Shane Duffy and the uplift in performances have all helped a tentative optimism to emerge throughout August. Even defeat against Rotherham United has been unable to burst it. 

Prior to the Championship starting, Norwich did feel like they were on a precipice – one wrong step and the wave of negativity would had returned swiftly. Luckily, they have fallen the right side. 

They are not out of the woods yet. They know the situation would turn fragile very quickly if performances began to deteriorate. But Wagner and his players deserve credit for the start they have made given the pressure and noise that surrounded the club. 

One Championship-focused media outlet described Norwich as having ‘the worst vibes in the 72’ before predicting them to finish in the bottom half of the table once again. 

It doesn’t feel like the same club now. Wagner has managed to create positivity. Norwich fans wanted to feel again – slowly, this group is making them fall. 

Barnes has been a surprise package. Duffy an experienced head. Christian Fassnacht is looking an increasingly shrewd addition. Gabby Sara is continuing to show his talent. Jack Stacey has fitted in seamlessly. 

The system has produced the most goals in the Championship. The underlying data suggests there is a sustainability to what they are doing at present. With options to return after the current international hiatus, there is now hope that they can go again. 

For Wagner, the first few games of the season were of paramount importance to his future and the perception of him from supporters. 

Webber seemed to take the majority of the flack at the end of last term but, as Dean Smith discovered, a continuation of poor form would have led to the German finding himself in the firing line pretty quickly. 

Norwich Evening News: Togetherness is building at Norwich City after a bright start to the season.Togetherness is building at Norwich City after a bright start to the season. (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

The fact he has now received a nomination for the Manager of the Month award is a sign that his hard work is bearing fruit – but nobody is getting carried away by a patch of positive form. 

Wagner has an ability to bring people on a journey. He successfully managed to cultivate a togetherness at Huddersfield through his words, actions but principally by how he set up his team. 

Replicating that at Norwich will be the target. Wagner’s teams have likeable characteristics – they work hard, run plenty, and are built on a collective. But it shouldn’t be downplayed that the football they’ve shown in parts has been entertaining. 

Sara has been incredibly influential to that early season progress – the increasing feeling around the Brazilian is that he will be the next talent to leave the club for a mega transfer fee. 

The 24-year-old is no longer a secret. This transfer window may have come and gone with Sara remaining at Carrow Road, but if he prolongs the August form he has displayed, whilst not fully fit, then it will be a case of when rather than if that moment arrives – and the question may shift to how long Norwich can keep him. 

After Gustavo Hamer’s move to Sheffield United, it is not a stretch to describe Sara as the best all-round midfielder in the division. Even after Saturday, a performance that many City fans would rank as his lowest of the campaign, many of those who cover Rotherham were singing his praises. 

Norwich Evening News: Gabriel Sara has been nominated for Championship Player of the Month.Gabriel Sara has been nominated for Championship Player of the Month. (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

As starts go, this is the one that everyone at Norwich will have been crossing their fingers and hoping for; but the minds are as focused as ever. 

Missteps against Stoke and Leicester after the break will create question marks again – Wagner and City’s officials are well aware of how quickly it can turn again. 

But the signs are positive. Everyone needed it. If they can maintain it, the possibility that something could be developing will only grow. What that means in terms of this season remains to be seen. 

These award nominations are indicative of the early progress that has been made – but it has to be a starting point for the Canaries. 

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