Norwich City on tour: One surefire way to annoy Daniel Farke
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Norwich City’s German trip is an essential staging post for Daniel Farke and his new squad. Paddy Davitt watched the City head coach hold court at training.
The only time Daniel Farke’s ice cool exterior has threatened to slip since he took control of Norwich City is when his players squander possession.
That has been evident in the early pre-season skirmishes and here again in the summer heat of his homeland, at the Canaries’ impressive training base tucked in the pretty countryside of North Rhine Westphalia.
It is easy to see why Farke’s charges, plus the club’s development squad, relocated to the Hotel-Residence Klosterpforte, with its self-contained full-sized training pitches situated within the neatly manicured grounds.
Dutch Eredivisie club Groningen have been recent neighbours. Portugal’s national side, no less, used it as their base for the 2006 World Cup. Farke himself played no part in the choice of venue but the City head coach is very much the focal point.
The German held court for nearly two hours at Tuesday’s training session, ahead of the first tour friendly against newly-promoted Bundesliga Two hopefuls MSV Duisburg on Wednesday evening.
On the adjacent pitch, Matt Gill and Darren Huckerby prepared the new wave for an opening friendly game on Wednesday lunchtime against regional side Rot-Weiß Oberhausen.
There is a synergy and a clear overlap to this trip. Farke and sporting director Stuart Webber are striving to build a culture and an identity that permeates far beyond the first team set-up.
Farke admitted after the session he expects stern tests against Duisburg and Arminia Bielefeld on Friday. The early groundwork has been established, the punishing physical regime overseen by his head of sports science Chris Domogolla.
Now with each passing day there is a growing sense his philosophy and his ideology is being assimilated by a squad who know the price of veering from the script.
The drills are functional, the advice imparted bordering on the common sense but the manner Farke carries himself and his quiet, understated demeanour command respect.
Each mini break in the morning training session was the precursor to a huddle centred around the new head coach.
He raised his voice only to implore his players not to cough up cheap possession; advice less concerned with adhering to some idealistic mantra than encouraging the economy of thought and deed he wants to see from his Norwich City. Losing the ball means extra work to try and get it back. That was the maxim he repeated on more than one occasion.
Wes Hoolahan sat on the turf as the small-sided games resumed once more. The Irishman is nursing a thigh injury but the Dubliner proved a captive audience. This is his brand of football, where technicians and those who can caress the ball are highly prized. But the additions of Christoph Zimmermann and Marcel Franke have added much needed ballast and physical presence.
It is easier perhaps to fret about the injuries and the departures but there is a freshness and togetherness to the group that would appear a key tenet of Farke’s success so far in his coaching career.
“Marcel has settled in well and the training camp is perfect for him to be with the other guys 24 hours a day,” said his boss. “I hope they speak not only about football but away from the game to learn a little bit about each other, to have a coffee and sit with each other. ”We have great facilities, the sun is shining and the weather certainly helps. It is a really nice place for a training camp. We are still working hard on the physical aspect but it is more about the tactical things as this week progresses, how to react when the opponent has the ball in defence, and we have some pretty good tests against German teams, who are pretty far in their pre-seasons because the German second division starts next week.
“We have had three weeks together and the guys maybe feel it in their legs right now but this will be a step up in terms of opponent. It will be hard for them but it is a challenge I want for them, to play two tests in three days. It is good for the mentality and for the togetherness of the group, I feel, to be put under pressure.”
Norwich will certainly feel the heat and the pressure soon enough when the real action begins. They better get used to it.
• Paddy Davitt will have live updates from both games across all our channels. Norwich City’s U23s KO at 12:30pm and the first team’s match at the Willi-Hafer Stadium gets under way at 6pm (all times BST).