After Norwich City limped to a 1-0 win over Queens Park Rangers, Samuel Seaman highlights six things you might have missed from Carrow Road.


The three points were courtesy of the first clean sheet Norwich have produced since their last home win, a 2-0 defeat of Birmingham in NR1. It was their first in eight games, and that's undoubtedly a step forward in a game that produced more questions than answers.

Danny Batth's role cannot be underestimated after his second impressive outing in as many starts, but David Wagner would also highlight the contribution of under-fire Shane Duffy. He's faced significant criticism after a poor run of form that culminated in a one-game ban, but contributed significantly as the hosts limited QPR to one real chance.

The Pink Un: Shane Duffy impressed in a strong defensive performanceShane Duffy impressed in a strong defensive performance (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

With only one shot on target produced and barren attacking output from the Norfolk side, that sturdy display was needed to secure a vital win. There weren't many positives other than the result, but finally managing to shield their own goal was one of them.

You can't win anything with kids

City's starting line-up was the first in the league since their April 2022 loss to Manchester United not to include an academy graduate. That may be no surprise given Wagner's clear preference for experience, but it's not a good sign for the Canaries' commitment to home-grown talent in their first team.

Jonathan Rowe's heel injury halted a run of 16 consecutive league starts for the winger, and meant, along with Jaden Warner's dropping for 31-year-old Duffy, that the dying embers of youth were stamped out of Wagner's team for a stodgy and dull win.

The Pink Un: Adam Idah became the first City academy graduate on the pitch when he replaced Hwang Ui-joAdam Idah became the first City academy graduate on the pitch when he replaced Hwang Ui-jo (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

That lack of youth was evident in the performance, with Jack Stacey and Dimitris Giannoulis routinely driving forwards with little support before turning to pass to their trailing team-mates.

Under a sporting director keen to address the age profile of City's squad and at a club dependent on generating revenue by selling their young talent, the German would do well to reconsider his priorities in the long term.

Golden oldies

Continuing the theme, this was also the oldest outfield line-up used in the division this season, beating bottom side Sheffield Wednesday's previous record with a whopping average of 30.3 years of age.

Not every head coach can rely on a wealth of academy products ready to throw into their team, but some youth is required for balance. Gabriel Sara was comfortably the youngest player in the Norwich team at 24, with 27-year-old Stacey and 28-year-old Giannoulis the only others under 30.

The Pink Un: David Wagner has prioritised experience at Carrow RoadDavid Wagner has prioritised experience at Carrow Road (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

Whether that's a failing of recruitment or a needless bias on Wagner's part will be debated, but in any case it can't be a good sign. Even if it did get the job done against their lowly counterparts on Saturday.

Solid Mr. Sara

Ask anyone who saw this game about Gabriel Sara's performance and they'll tell you about his beautifully-weighted raking assist for Hwang Ui-jo in the 21st minute. That moment was trademark Sara, and it's no surprise that it sticks in the memory.

But throughout the afternoon the Brazilian thrived in an area he's not typically known for: defensive solidity. The 24-year-old made as many successful tackles (three) as anyone on the pitch, completed more clearances (four) than any other midfielder, and wasn't dribbled past at any point.

The Pink Un: Gabriel Sara posted impressive defensive statisticsGabriel Sara posted impressive defensive statistics (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

After months of inconsistency and questions marks over the physical side of his game, that will mean sweet relief for August's Championship player of the month and vindication for Wagner against doubters of his tactical nous.

One moment is all it takes

Hwang Ui-jo highlighted the essence of being a striker with his performance during the game. The South Korean touched the ball just 15 times throughout it, the least of any player who started.

Two of those decided the fixture, however, first a deft touch to drop Sara's delightful pass into his path and then a well-timed finish to slam beyond Asmir Begovic and into the Hoops goal.

The Pink Un: Hwang scored the only goal of the gameHwang scored the only goal of the game (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

That may now be the type of performance required if Wagner is to stick to this defensive blueprint, and it was clear from the head coach's post-match comments that he sees Adam Idah as a super-sub of sorts.

That combined with another important goal for Hwang suggests the 31-year-old is likely to be given the chance to impress until Josh Sargent's return, upon which he'll hope to give his temporary boss a very tough choice to make.

Long shot

Another player hoping to give his head coach a difficult decision will be George Long, who is expected to return to his understudy role when Angus Gunn reaches full fitness. That's likely to be Sunday's trip to Bristol City according to Wagner's timeline, with the trip to Watford tomorrow a chance for Long to impress once more.

That clean sheet was his first since joining the club from Millwall, and he played his part with some decent saves and satisfactory handling. There was one nervy moment when he spilled a shot to Ilias Chair's feet, but he survived and has done so fairly well since replacing the injured Gunn.

The Pink Un: George Long won his first clean sheet as a CanaryGeorge Long won his first clean sheet as a Canary (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

Doing that in the games to come will be a tall order up against the man who usurped modern legend Tim Krul, but a long-awaited shut-out was key for Long and will give him confidence.

He may not be the solution as City's first-choice stopper, but the Sheffield native has proven himself an able deputy.