David Wagner makes Bristol City play-off claim before Norwich;s crucial Championship encounter

Norwich City manager David Wagner believes Bristol City could be in Championship play-off contention next season having been impressed by the performances of Liam Manning’s side since the international break.

City travel to Carrow Road for their penultimate away trip of 2023/24 having put together a five-match unbeaten run since Good Friday which has left them secure in mid-table. It was an increasingly distant dream but last Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Huddersfield Town has made finishing inside the top six a mathematical impossibility, with Norwich currently occupying the final play-off spot and 13 points ahead of the Robins.

Wagner has already faced City once before as he looked in danger of losing his job when trailing 1-0 at Ashton Gate in early December, in what was Manning’s fourth game in charge. But a second-half revival, via an own goal from George Tanner and then Adam Idah robbing Zak Vyner to score an injury-time winner, meant the Canaries emerged victorious.

Norwich have three matches to secure their spot in the play-offs, as they lead seventh-placed Hull by six points but with the Tigers having played one game less. Saturday’s fixture pitches together the division’s two best teams over the last five games; City have taken 11 points and scored eight goals, conceding once, during that time whereas Norwich have 10 points with seven for and six against.

The Robins run has evidently made Wagner take notice of their capabilities as they head into a crucial summer which will be Manning’s first significant opportunity to shape the squad more in his image, as well as have a full pre-season, something he has placed huge emphasis on.

“As long as we win, I don’t care what the others are doing,” Wagner said of Norwich’s play-off rivals. “This will be our aim for Saturday as well. Everyone knows Bristol is the in-form team in the last five games.

“I like what I’ve seen of them; it’s a very energetic team, they work hard, would not be surprised if they are in the mix for play-offs next season. This is a proper challenge we will face, if you look at the names they have beaten already, in the FA Cup as well.

“They can put out a top performance and they have shown they are on a good run, very energetic, quick. Anything you need to be a super successful team. This is a team you will have to have an eye on next season.”

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