What a curious football team Norwich City is at the moment.  

Winning three matches and then losing to a Sunderland side who had suffered three straight defeats and a mounting injury crisis was about as ‘Championship’ as it gets. 

It’s difficult to get a handle on what the Canaries actually are. There’s no doubt that things have generally improved since David Wagner’s arrival in January. His first 10 league games in charge of Norwich City have brought 19 goals.  

Despite that impressive return they never really looked like breaking down a stubborn Sunderland on Sunday. Perhaps that shouldn’t have been so surprising.  

There have been some magic, memorable moments courtesy of spectacular strikes from Gabriel Sara and Marcelino Nunez but that isn’t a reliable consistent source of goals. The line-up on Sunday contained several players in the midst of personal droughts.  

Teemu Pukki has scored just two of those 19 under Wagner and both of those were in the German’s first league game in charge at Preston. It’s now six months or 13 appearances since the Finn last scored at Carrow Road. A remarkable fact when you consider how prolific he has been throughout the rest of his glittering Canary career.   

Also, in the team on Sunday was Onel Hernandez who last scored at home in October 2019 against Manchester United. Adam Idah has just two league goals at Carrow Road in his entire career, the same number as Nunez who got both of his against Birmingham City last month. 

In midfield Kenny McLean is about to pass two years without scoring a league goal in front of his home fans. The chances of a defender popping up with a vital header from a set piece were also slim. Ben Gibson has no goals in 80 appearances for the club, Dimitris Giannoulis is at 0 from 56. Grant Hanley has never gone beyond a single goal in each of his six seasons as a Canary and Max Aarons got City’s first goal of the campaign but hasn’t netted since. Top scorer Josh Sargent came off the bench but he is now on a run of three goals in 20 appearances for club and country. 

The Pink Un:

When you really need a goal a penalty at the right time can be precious. Even that is unlikely at the moment. The weekend saw Norwich City clock up a full year without scoring from the spot in a league game. March 10th 2022 when Pukki pulled one back against Chelsea in The Premier League was the last time they successfully converted one. They’ve actually only been awarded one since, that was missed by Pukki in the 2-2 draw at Sheffield United back in October when Dean Smith was still in position.  

There is encouragement to be found from the fact that Wagner has worked out a way of turning that less-than-promising kit of parts into a sum total of 19 goals from 10 matches. City feels like a team in transition given the number of players out of contract in the summer. As they gradually evolve and fully become ‘David Wagner’s Norwich City’ he is going to need to keep the knack of developing the right equations to get the very most out of whatever is at his disposal.  

It’s been such a turbulent season for City. Every time it looks like the campaign might finally take off there is a Sunderland style setback. Frustrating defeats like that may have to be swallowed as the pay-off for thrilling 3-2 victories at places like Millwall until Wagner can put his stamp on things, find a more consistent rhythm and a reliable regular source of Carrow Road goals.  



Initial thoughts... 



Here’s a bit of non-scandalous behind-the-scenes gossip for you.  

The other week when David Wagner appeared for his post-match interviews he was wearing a coat with the initials ‘GL’ on. It wasn’t an attempt to become a master of disguise and confuse us reporters. He’d accidentally picked up the coat that belonged to Glynn Lewis, the club’s head of physical performance.  

It got me wondering when the trait of coaches and managers having their initials on their lapels first started. Having your name on your kit feels like the sort of thing that ought to have been left behind with the Primary School lost property box.  

I can understand players’ names on the back of shirts to help with identification. There are commercial reasons too but the same can’t be said for managers. Even in the heady days when Daniel Farke was the king of Carrow Road I never once saw a fan with ‘DF’ on their tracksuit tops.  

It was a thought that prompted a message on Twitter from Norwich City fan John Cains which suggests that the Canaries could have been football fashion trailblazers.  

He sent a picture of the front cover of the programme from the first game that he attended in 1978. It was a clash with Manchester City at Carrow Road. The picture features the Norwich coaching staff proudly displaying their smart Admiral yellow and black striped tracksuit tops.  

John Bond is joined by Ken Brown, Mel Machin and John Sainty. Or, as it says just below their left shoulders, JB, KB, MM and JS.  

Is this the earliest example of initials on manager’s outfits?  

It’s something that is commonplace now at all levels of the game. Even at Sunday League and junior matches no self-respecting coach is ever seen on the touchline without their initials on display.