David Wagner has made a sensational start to life as Norwich City boss - but now he must prove their current high levels are more than just a new manager bounce.

There have been lots of occasions where managers go into clubs and manage to turn things around in a short period of time - the question now is whether this can become something more sustained for both Wagner and Norwich.

It had come to a head with Dean Smith and a change was required. We saw numerous ex-players, pundits and others in the media question the players and their application throughout this season. 

Within three games, specifically the two away games at Preston and Coventry, we've seen a complete transformation in the way the team are operating - they've found their cutting edge and function a lot more efficiently. 

Sometimes a different voice and a clean slate can be important factors in their own right. 

But Wagner has come in and addressed a major problem that Smith encountered in terms of playing players in their actual positions. 

The players are currently going about their work like they had hit rock bottom under Smith, due partly to the atmosphere around the club as well and they seem freer in their efforts. 

There were mistakes against Coventry but they were more courageous on the ball and Wagner has already created a culture where making errors isn't a problem. The players are looking more responsible for their performance levels in the opening few games under the German than they were for long periods under Smith. 

Whenever a managerial change is made, and I've experienced this in my own career, you tend to get three groups in any dressing room - one that is elated, one that is disappointed and one that is somewhat indifferent. 

Those on the periphery tend to see it as a real opportunity - just look at the early impact of Kieran Dowell and Onel Hernandez under Wagner as an example of that. 

I've always been a fan of Hernandez and felt there was something there with him. He is always a threat, he's direct and he provides something to this Norwich team that no other attacking player does in the squad.

If I was playing up front in this current team, I would want the Cuban international in one of the wide areas. I'm almost certain that Teemu Pukki and Josh Sargent feel the same, despite the frustrations about his end product. 

Norwich have scored 40 goals in the Championship this season meaning one fifth of those have come in the last two matches. That is pretty incredible.

Sometimes a new manager can go into a club but the freshness of their messages and change of approach can create an uplift, we see it all the time with caretakers who then struggle in the long-term - but Wagner's impact feels greater than that.

He has improved individuals and the collective through a clear tactical approach. The players have clearly responded to his methods and the style he is trying to impart on them.

That explains why so many are excited about the future. The fans are allowed to get carried away - but the players and Wagner himself must keep themselves level-headed. 

As good as it has been so far, Norwich have played one side in Preston who had lost three homes on the spin prior to their 4-0 win at Deepdale and another in Coventry who were without a win in five in all competitions.

But that's not to take anything away from Wagner or his squad - it was the level of performance for long periods that impressed as much as the result. 

The next test, against the best side in the division in Burnley, will be a fascinating one. If Norwich can end their run of nine successive victories, that is an almighty statement of intent to send to the rest of the division.

That type of game will serve as a barometer to properly measure where Norwich find themselves. Just how sustainable this positive start is may well come down to how well the new tactical approach works when it is coming under proper pressure against a team with higher quality. 

Park everything else - Wagner has brought a fun factor back to Norwich. Not every problem has been solved overnight, but he has at least made them entertaining to watch and, so far, managed to cultivate a good feeling on the pitch and in the stands. 

That game against Burnley at Carrow Road would have appeared on the horizon with real dread earlier in the season, now there is a natural excitement and eagerness for the challenge. 

Wagner has now a fortnight to work with his group on the training pitch and refine areas that have been lacking. Given what he has achieved so far, that has the potential to be really exciting. 

But what has impressed me most has been Wagner's approach to the job.

Somewhat unfairly, he has a reputation from his days at Huddersfield as being a bit of a chest-beater and overly emotional to the point of having a detrimental effect on his teams.

At Norwich so far, he has been an unassuming character. I was impressed by his comments after the game on Saturday discussing the anger he felt at the first-half display - it is the type of comment that keeps the players honest and standards high. 

Even after matches, there has been an understated approach from him. Instead of basking in the glory of two emphatic wins, he has pushed his players into the spotlight to soak up the applause from supporters. 

That is an emotionally intelligent thing to do given the lack of confidence among the squad before his arrival but also to try and repair the connection with supporters. 

At present, Wagner is ticking all the right boxes - but he must continue to prove that what he is building is greater than just a new manager bounce. 

The Pink Un: Josh Sargent scored his 10th goal of the season on Saturday. Josh Sargent scored his 10th goal of the season on Saturday. (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)


Josh Sargent's goal at the weekend means that Norwich City now have a pair of strikers on double figures for the first time since Teemu Pukki signed for the club in 2018. 

Given how much we've all spoken about the overreliance on the Finnish international striker for goals, Sargent's form this season has been refreshing. It's also been impressive based on the fact most of his football has come from a right-wing position. 

David Wagner favours playing a front two - with Sargent dropping deeper to link the play and Pukki playing on the shoulder to cause havoc with his movement. 

He is happier, as Wagner has said himself, but also better in his natural position. I have played in positions during my career that were for the benefit of the team and it can damage your reputation if you're too selfless. 

During his time at Norwich, he has always been a grafter. Hopefully, now he can prove his quality in his best role. 

Sargent, along with Angus Gunn, have arguably been the only real successes from their high-spending transfer window in the summer of 2021, even if it has taken the American slightly longer to show his quality. 

It's now safe to say that the £8million fee that Norwich are reported to have paid now looks extremely good value for money, even if he failed to make the impact they would have wanted in the Premier League.

When he arrived from Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga, Sargent was a development player and wasn't renowned for consistent goal-scoring. The hope at Norwich was that they could develop him into one. 

He is still a young man who is improving and looks like a player who will become a real asset for the club moving forward. 

But it's a positive that goals are coming from different areas be it Sargent, Onel Hernandez or Kieran Dowell - as was the case on Saturday. 

With Pukki not getting any younger and now in the final six months of his contract, that is a welcome sign for Norwich who have relied on his goals for so long. 

In this attacking system, if they can maintain their high performance levels, it's far more likely that the goals will be shared around.