After Norwich City's 1-1 draw with Coventry on Saturday, Connor Southwell delivers six things you might have missed from the CBS Arena. 

1 - Warning lights

One win in six, dwindling performances and the ever-growing sense of drifting that is becoming difficult to ignore – there is a real concern about Norwich City’s current direction of travel.

Saturday’s draw against Coventry, on the surface, is a decent point – but the performance and approach throws up more questions than answers.

Norwich weren’t able to withstand the ever-increasing pressure that Coventry pushed onto them. Jon Rowe was left bemoaning game management. David Wagner felt the game plan had been executed.

After two away games, Norwich took one point from trips to Swansea and Coventry. They conceded soft late goals in both matches and their performances left plenty to be desired.

The trends are tracking in the wrong direction. Be it points, performances or approach – there is little that is mustering confidence that a play-off push can be sustained.

Norwich have taken four points from their last five games. Only Blackburn, Watford, QPR, Rotherham and Sheff Wednesday have taken fewer.

For Wagner and City, a few warning lights have appeared on the dashboard, whilst not at a critical stage – they need to be fixed to prevent the wheels coming off.

With injured players poised to return and an international break allowing for some breathing space, the hope is that Norwich return in a stronger shape.  

2 - Boiling point

Back in January, over 3,000 Norwich City supporters saw their side romp to an exciting 4-2 victory over Coventry at the CBS Arena.

It was defined by slick attacks and optimism, Wagner was just a month into the role and the possibilities felt endless.

Contrast that free-flowing approach with the conservative and pragmatic one City attempted to execute at the CBS Arena on Saturday. Wagner was out to halt a run of four successive defeats on the road – but they lacked control and were clinging on for dear life in the second half.

Norwich failed to record a single shot on target in the second half. Changes by Mark Robins helped swing the momentum into the hosts' favour.

It left a faction of away supporters feeling frustrated and short-changed. They wanted to see more aspiration from their side – irrespective of current form and injury issues.

When Jon Rowe netted the opener, it arrived against the run of play. Norwich remained on the back foot as they sought to see the game out. There felt an inevitability about Coventry finding an equaliser.

It was the approach rather than the result that left supporters angry. Subsequently, there have been reports of fracases and squabbles in the away end – all of it points to a growing level of unrest.

The Pink Un: Norwich City's defence have been called into action regularly of late. Norwich City's defence have been called into action regularly of late. (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

3 - Cannon fodder

Perhaps one of the most concerning trends to emerge from successive away games is the fact that City’s opponents have enjoyed more than 20 shots in both matches.

Coventry had 13 efforts in City’s penalty area. Swansea managed 17 inside their own box.

There is undoubtedly an element of game state about the Coventry encounter, Norwich were inviting pressure as the game grew older – but had it been for better finishing from the hosts, City would have been beaten.

On average this season, Norwich are conceding shots at a rate of 15 per game – a figure only bettered by Blackburn and Rotherham.

If these numbers are maintained, then Norwich will continue to ship goals at a rate that makes it difficult to win football matches consistently, especially away from home when teams are under more pressure to force the issue.

Shane Duffy and Ben Gibson were forced to ‘emergency defend’, as Mark Robins characterised it, before the dam was burst when the latter diverted Joel Latibeaudiere’s cross past Angus Gunn.

What will alarm David Wagner more is City’s underlying defensive numbers.

Only Plymouth (19.5xGA) and Rotherham (19.9xGA) have a higher expected goals against rate than City (18.3xGA), a statistic indicative of their defensive vulnerabilities in the opening 11 matches of the campaign.

 That will need to be resolved in the weeks ahead.

The Pink Un: Dimi Giannoulis was dropped to the bench at the CBS Arena.Dimi Giannoulis was dropped to the bench at the CBS Arena. (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

4 - Shuffle

Prior to Saturday’s game at the CBS Arena, David Wagner had named the same goalkeeper and back four in all of Norwich City’s opening ten matches of the Championship match.

Much of the discourse pre-match revolved around whether City’s boss would opt to shuffle his central defensive options and hand a start to Danny Batth, who is yet to start a game for the club since completing a Deadline Day move from Sunderland.

Sam McCallum was handed a start ahead of Dimi Giannoulis, who has impressed at the start of this season with a series of much-improved performances.

Wagner said pre-match that any changes made would be for fitness rather than quality reasons – and he reiterated after the 1-1 draw that McCallum’s introduction against his former club was down to freshness reasons.

McCallum was solid against his former club even in spite of Tatsuhiro Sakamoto’s impressive attacking display.

Jack Stacey, Shane Duffy and Angus Gunn are ever-present this season, having played every minute of their Championship campaign.

Duffy has now linked up with the Ireland squad and will likely be involved in both matches over the break.

Grant Hanley is preparing to make the next step of his recovery by returning to team training, but Wagner will have to manage him and his other backline options cautiously in the coming weeks.

The Pink Un: Mark Robins has enjoyed much success against Norwich as a manager.Mark Robins has enjoyed much success against Norwich as a manager. (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

5 - Rockin' Robins

‘That’s probably the most and the best that we’ve been in a game against Norwich since I’ve been here.”

Those were the words of Coventry boss Mark Robins during his post-match reflections after the draw on Saturday.

Robins, a former City player, hasn’t enjoyed a great record against the Canaries as a manager having lost five of six encounters with them.

The only other positive result came during Covid, when Norwich faced an injury crisis and were forced to play Marco Stiepermann as a lone striker.

Robins’ comments are similar, if less pointed, to the verdict that Alex Neil delivered after a goalless draw against his Stoke side at the back end of last year – when Norwich adopted a similar approach to ensure they got a point.

He felt Norwich served as a benchmark for his side’s progress. If they were more clinical and less disjointed, they would have inflicted victory on the team he helped beat Bayern Munich 30 years ago.

After over seven years at the helm and a play-off final, Robins is a god-like figure at the CBS Arena – his building job against a backdrop of adversity has been astonishing.

He remains popular with Norwich supporters despite the fact his association with the club ended in 1995.

The Pink Un: Daniel Farke awaits Norwich City after the international break. Daniel Farke awaits Norwich City after the international break. (Image: PA Images)

6 - Reunion on the horizon

The clock is ticking to the small matter of Daniel Farke’s Carrow Road return after the October international break.

Farke will return to Norfolk for the first time since he was sacked as Canaries head coach in November 2021, bringing his much-improved Leeds side with him.

He is sure to get a warm reception after five years at the helm at Carrow Road and delivering two league titles – but Norwich must ensure the goodwill stops there.

Leeds are resurgent after a turbulent start to their Championship campaign and have won four of their last six matches.

Farke has helped them shake off a disappointing relegation and has his sights on achieving a third promotion to the Premier League. There is likely to be a willingness to settle some old scores when he steps foot in the opposition dug-out in just under a fortnight.

For all the concern around Norwich’s away form – they have won four of five home matches this season and will be hoping to make life uncomfortable for their former head coach.

It is unlikely to be a dull return – with Norwich under pressure and performances flatlining, there is a need to ensure it is an unhappy afternoon for Farke.