The performance last Saturday in Wigan in a game that in terms of entertainment was a little less exciting than seeing the paint dry, was it not that of a team with pretensions to return to the Premier League, with golden chances given to the team of home because of terrible passing and bad decision making and a complete lack of creativity.

Despite the loud and unwavering support of a packed section, led by the excellent work of the City Elite fan group, the energy in the stands was never matched on the pitch as City sank further and further into ineptitude and only he was saved from an embarrassing defeat. due to the inability of the local team to finish off.

While a point, however undeserved, is better than nothing, it hardly did any good to convince anyone that City are good enough to make the play-offs, let alone succeed there.

So once again we all flocked to Carrow Road on Tuesday wondering which Norwich City was going to turn up, only to be pleasantly surprised by a first-half performance that had all the ingredients Wigan had been missing.

Having looked utterly flat at the DW Stadium, City showed energy, inventiveness and a level of desire that had been conspicuously lacking in Wigan, and should have been in front long before Marcelino Nunez’s marvelous strike.

Much of that was due to a more positive approach, but the fact that his form was so much better also played a part.

At Wigan, City’s midfielders could have used traffic lights to communicate, such was the distance that separated them at times. Kenny McLean would invariably drop into the wing-back or centre-back positions to pick up the ball and then be unable to progress into midfield with the ball or find a short passing option, with Wigan falling to a low block.

That meant Gabriel Sara and Kieran Dowell were left to cover a lot of ground and the problem was exacerbated by the fact that both full-backs, who are key points in City’s system, had poor, error-plagued games.

Eastern Daily Press: Dimi GiannoulisDimi Giannoulis (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

While Max Aarons put that behind him on Tuesday night, Dimi Giannoulis appears to be suffering from a crisis of confidence and currently plays backwards more often than forwards.

On the other hand, the match against Birmingham saw the return of Núñez, who started the season, and clearly relished the role of number 10 and the ability to play closer to his fellow South American.

Sara has continued to grow in the role given to her by David Wagner, having been shuffled from one pillar to the next by Dean Smith. She was outstanding against Birmingham and is increasingly looking like the type of player City can build their future midfield around.

Like Emi Buendía, he seems capable of combining flair with the ability to negotiate the physical challenges that are a Championship trademark and I believe there is much more to come from him as his confidence grows.

Tuesday night could also be a turning point for Christos Tzolis. Although he hasn’t spent much time on the pitch since his return from loan, the goal against Birmingham will do wonders for his confidence, as will the fact that he got the call up to replace Onel Hernández, despite Marquinhos also is on the bench.

So, a lot of positives, but Wagner will be less happy with the way his team lost control after half time. The introduction of another striker in place of a midfielder by the visitors led to a change in the balance of play and some nervous moments before City regained the initiative in the closing stages.

Wagner will know that stronger opposition would have made more of that opportunity and that City must keep up the intensity for the full 90 minutes if they are to beat better teams.


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