It’s still only September and this has already been a season of ups and downs.

In fact, you could say David Wagner’s reign at Norwich has been stuttering from the start - with convincing wins soon followed by disappointing, sometimes heavy, defeats.

After a decent start to this year’s campaign we lost unexpectedly at Rotherham, then clung on unconvincingly to narrowly beat Stoke. Frustrating as the loss to Leicester was last week, they are leading the division. And if Kenny McLean’s shot, which hit the crossbar when we were just a goal down, had been a few inches lower there may have been a different result.

However, there were no “what ifs” following the miserable defeat on Saturday. We were five goals down before an attempt at a fightback had even begun, in a depressingly one-sided competition.

It’s difficult to pin down why we are experiencing these swings in performance, but it indicates a fragility in the confidence of the squad. It can’t be ignored that we have lost our two first-choice strikers to injuries at the same moment as the latest dip in fortune,  but that shouldn’t make an impact on our back line. Our crumbling defence leaking goals so easily at Plymouth seems more difficult to explain as a result of missing forwards.

The Pink Un: David Wagner - still doubtsDavid Wagner - still doubts (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

Wagner is an affable person, and his intentions as our head coach fit the desire for attacking football the majority of supporters admire. He understands the importance of the fans and the relationship the club has with them. He is the one who orchestrates the players’ post-match salute to the crowd after a victory. As a result there is an enormous amount of goodwill towards him, particularly given the animosity aimed towards the previous incumbent.

But his inconsistent tenure in charge of the Canaries means that a few doubts linger. Clearly, on some days he can inspire the team to play beautiful football and win a game with ease. Yet when things go against us the plan goes to pieces.

So what is it we are missing? The playing squad may be without the star quality of an Emi Buendia or a Teemu Pukki, although Jonathan Rowe has been doing his best to bring some excitement to the stands.

The summer transfer business was fairly uncontroversial, and the return of an invigorated Przemyslaw Płacheta is comparable to a new signing. Notable figures have been missing, with Grant Hanley’s long-term lay-off, but there is a good mix of experience and talent in the squad.

So how did we go from a side who comfortably beat Millwall and Huddersfield, book-ended with two wins in the League Cup, to the team that succumbed to a thrashing at Plymouth’s Home Park?

What it does suggest is that last season’s woes have not all been resolved. When the wind is behind us, we can fly up the pitch and score with ease. But when our strategy fails, we don’t just falter, but rather fall apart. A more stable team would be able to grind out a result, or at least a draw, not seemingly forget what they were even supposed to be doing on the pitch in the first place.

I can only speculate that when Wagner took over the reins he had to be Mr Nice Guy to build bridges and bring joy back into the dressing room. Allowing the squad to play to their best abilities, to encourage them to believe that matchday was a chance to shine under the floodlights rather than a slog in the battlefield.

But you need both sides of that coin to be successful in the Championship. For every one-two between Buendia and Pukki to set up a goal, there was a Christoph Zimmermann header at the foot of a striker or a crunching block from Tom Trybull at the other end.

What Norwich need now is a fire in their belly as well as a spring in their step. It’s time for nice guy Wagner to inspire strength of character. It’s time to be brave.