Paddy Davitt: Farke and the urban myths around City boss
Do not rule out a surprise or two at Norwich City from Daniel Farke the other side of this international break.
There is more than a trace of urban myth surrounding Norwich City's head coach that would try to convince you he is wedded to a zealous devotion to the purest possession-based football.
That Farke is a hipster head coach with a smooth, affable, easy going nature charming players and supporters alike.
He is all of those but ask any under his command if he has a steely edge beneath the pleasant exterior and they will tell you Farke is a man who knows what he wants. And more importantly how he wants his sides to play.
Sam Byram remarked when he joined from West Ham over the summer he had never worked under a manager with such a forensic eye for detail. Byram revealed one to one chats that go into the minutiae of what he wants from every player in every situation within the overall team ethic. None of his troops are left in any doubt what their role is in the pursuit of success.
A debilitating injury list has frayed City's performance levels since that high tide against Manchester City. It has left Farke exposed to questions about the balance of his defence, the mix in midfield, even seemingly a reluctance to dip into his substitutes to alter the flow of a match.
None of those accusations are new but in the glorious march to a Championship title few queried the man or his methods. Farke knows better than any in a results-driven industry every decision, every selection call he makes is scrutinised.
The manner of that 5-1 defeat against Aston Villa - a fifth league defeat in six - magnifies the focus on his selection criteria for the trip to Bournemouth the other side of the current break.
But there is a pattern in both of his previous seasons in Norfolk that bodes well.
The German has demonstrated previously he knows how to maximise a precious pause in the relentless league grind to re-focus and re-set his squad for the challenges ahead.
That Villa pummelling felt every bit as painful as defeat at Millwall, which marked a watershed in Farke's early Norwich reign. The man himself referred to it again in the build up to his 100th league game in charge last week as a match he would remember for all the wrong reasons.
Likewise it was a heavy defeat prior to an international break back in September 2017. Set against a backdrop of the same type of questions about Farke's philosophical quest rubbing against the jarring reality of English football. Only much, much louder as the unheralded Borussia Dortmund II coach had nothing to fall back on at that stage, other than Stuart Webber's personal endorsement as the front man for a new, bold vision.
What we saw after the mauling by the Lions was the restoration of Alex Tettey to beef up a midfield that looked just as brittle as the one against Aston Villa on Saturday. Such pragmatism underpinned a nine-match unbeaten run that included five consecutive clean sheets. Norwich may have fallen away again later in Farke's debut season, but the ability to change course was evident once more in a truly remarkable promotion-winning season.
The Teemu Pukki we recognise now as a prolific plunderer of goals - which has continued in the Premier League - started out life in Norfolk as Jordan Rhodes' shadow man. Until the Finn was deployed on his own up top for the first time following a September 2018 international break in a match-winning cameo against Middlesbrough. The rest as they say is the stuff of legend. Norwich lost only one of the next 18 Championship games and Pukki swept all before him, while Rhodes was cast in the role of enthusiastic cheer leader.
That is why it pays not to second guess Farke's next move. Much hinges, in the short term of course, on clearing the medical rooms at Colney. Then we can see how City's head coach views the task of Premier League-proofing his template.
Which tweaks and refinements - be it in personnel or perhaps even the deployment of a defensive three on occasion - can make Norwich far more robust, far less predictable and far more capable of defying the predictions of those who forecast an instant return to the Football League before a ball was kicked.