After 81 minutes of Norwich City's trip to Cardiff, the script was being strictly adhered to.

A bizarre David Wagner team selection had his side 2-1 down to the Bluebirds, with patience from the travelling support running low and Wagner's status as the Canaries' head coach hanging by a thread.

Stuart Webber was in the directors' box for the last time as the club's sporting director, with Ben Knapper set to replace him two days later and many expecting the first item on his itinerary to dismiss the coach his predecessor had put in place.

City were on their way to a fifth consecutive defeat, on the way extending their barren run to one win in 11 - the same statistic they ended the last campaign with. The expected direction of travel was clear. And then it wasn't.

Norwich Evening News: Many Norwich fans expected the trip to Cardiff to be Wagner's last game in chargeMany Norwich fans expected the trip to Cardiff to be Wagner's last game in charge (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

Just as Wagner's fate seemed sealed, in the eyes of some at least, Christian Fassnacht's cross was diverted into the Cardiff City net by substitute Ryan Wintle. At that point the German's future became questionable, and before long it had become incredibly unlikely that he was sacked.

The impact of Adam Idah's 84th-minute winner on Wagner's career is as yet unknown - the latter will hope it's the turning point from which he found his feet as Norwich boss and kicked on for the third time at the club. But it's impacts in the short-term are indubitable; he may just have saved the 52-year-old's job.

Suddenly Knapper has a more complex job, with Wagner's penchant for streaky runs of form suggesting this could be the start of another golden period, perhaps even matching the eight-game unbeaten spell that started the season.

The on-pitch evidence, aside from Saturday’s late show, however, suggests that’s a minute possibility. Even in victory the Norfolk side conceded twice through flimsy structure and ill discipline, and it still required two half-time substitutions.

Knapper’s background as a numbers man surely suggests he’ll look beyond the simple anecdotery evidence of the previous era’s final game. But there are other complications and politics in his way.

A pre-match phone call reaffirming the club’s joint majority shareholders’ faith in Wagner put the former Arsenal loans manager in undoubtedly murky waters, and the internal appreciation of Webber prevents a total clear-out.

It feels somehow like Knapper has less scope for change than when the 39-year-old made his entrance in 2017, and that’s not a good sign given the state of the club at present.

He inherits an ageing and struggling Championship squad with a heavy wage bill and a head coach under huge pressure. The previous two months of form had at least crystallised this in spite of the internal support for Wagner, but a decline-busting victory complicated that situation.

That’s why there’s a feeling of limbo in NR1, and an absence of the new beginning many were hoping for. Until Wagner either departs or does enough to prove that he’s the man to lead the club forward, there’s a holding pattern at Colney.

Executive director Zoe Webber stated during the hiring process of her husband’s replacement that they were looking for someone who could work with David Wagner, and the early signs suggest they’ve found him. There’s been no action on Knapper’s first day at the helm, even if this is City’s best chance at a fresh start this season.

How long that ensures likely depends on how Wagner muddles through in the interim, with Josh Sargent’s injury return date surely circled on his calendar. Make it to then and he may at least have a mid-term future at the football club.

One thing is indisputable: as of now, he remains in post. Saturday’s win was huge for the 52-year-old, even if it complicated things in the short term. Only time will tell if it was a positive in the long term, and whether this was a large-scale changing of the script or simply a lengthening of it.