Melissa Rudd: There are still doubts over whether Farke's tactics can be successful in the Championship
PUBLISHED: 15:09 30 August 2018
While there is little doubt that table-toppers Leeds would cause most Championship teams problems playing how they did on Saturday, their comfortable win at Carrow Road highlighted more worrying wider issues for City.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side were a perfect example of a team flourishing under a new boss. The Argentinian’s influence in just over two months at the helm at Elland Road has been extraordinary.
Leeds looked fitter, sharper and more hungry to win the ball back even when three goals to the good in time added on.
It brought a City team who had produced two moments of quality to clinch a first win of the season against Preston back down to earth with a sickening thud that reverberated around Carrow Road.
Leeds had won four of their last 23 games in 2017/18, and while £3million summer signing Barry Douglas impressed, their vast improvement can’t be attributed to a spending spree.
The left-back was the only one of five new additions to start for the visitors on Saturday, which featured seven of the same eleven that were beaten 2-1 at Carrow Road in April.
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Patrick Bamford, the club’s only other big money purchase, had to settle for a 13-minute cameo off the bench.
Bielsa has been the catalyst for their transformed fortunes, instilling his own famed brand of intensity when both pressing to win the ball back and driving forward. The speed of his team’s transition between defence and attack is remarkable.
That’s a trait that Daniel Farke has thus far looked incapable of imparting to his Norwich team 15 months after taking over.
Whereas Leeds players, to a man, carried out the instructions of their head coach, once a goal down those in yellow and green looked mostly unsure of quite how they should go about getting back into the game.
Whether Leeds will be able to maintain that across a 46-game Championship season will determine if it is a long-term strategy for success, but it made Farke’s preference for possession based play that suffers too frequently from slow tempo look particularly toothless for the majority of Saturday.
There are still doubts over whether Farke’s tactics can be effectively executed with the pool of players at his disposal, and given he has now had three transfer windows to try and make it work it does raise the question of how much longer he will be given to do so.
While a 3-1 Carabao Cup defeat of Premier League Cardiff on Tuesday night was a very welcome distraction from Championship matters, it is of course Sunday’s East Anglian derby that could prove a pivotal point in the season.
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A positive performance and win at Portman Road would do wonders to lift the mood among supporters; one that feels somewhat downbeat after acquiring only four points from the first five matches.
Whichever way you assess Norwich’s current situation, Farke’s record now stands at four wins from the last 21 league games and a first derby defeat in nine years would make for a grim international break indeed.
They may be languishing at the bottom of the Championship table, but Ipswich supporters are probably thinking Sunday presents the best chance they have had to beat City in years, given Farke hasn’t overseen a league win on the road since January.
The old adage about form going out of the window in these fixtures suits both teams ahead of Sunday.
City’s Cup success midweek featured few players who are likely to start, though Michael McGovern’s assured performance between the sticks might give Farke something to think about after Tim Krul’s poor display on Saturday.
Fans will care little about the personnel in the aftermath though as long as the result is right – and retaining bragging rights in the short-term may be critical to Farke’s long-term future.