Paddy Davitt: Farke snub leaves a sour taste
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The Canaries were worthy Championship title winners. But Daniel Farke’s key role has again been overlooked. Paddy Davitt reflects on the latest snub.
Cut it any way you want but for Daniel Farke not to be named the Championship manager of the year is laughable.
Sheffield United rival Chris Wilder followed up his Football League award by lifting the same accolade at the League Managers' Association (LMA) gathering on Tuesday in London.
Wilder then completed his own personal hat-trick when he took to the stage again at the Grosvenor House Hotel to accept the overall LMA manager of the year, presented by Sir Alex Ferguson and Gareth Southgate.
Those are the facts. Much like the five-point gap Wilder's club finished behind Farke's Norwich City at the top of the Championship standings.
Farke was shortlisted for the prestigious overall LMA award, along with compatriot Jurgen Klopp and Manchester City's Pep Guardiola. Yet the Sir Alex Ferguson Trophy, voted for by fellow managers, went to Wilder.
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The LMA's chief executive, Richard Bevan, spoke of a 'homegrown' success and Wilder's brilliant achievement in securing three promotions in four years at two different clubs.
Homegrown is an interesting term. You could use it to emphasise the different backgrounds of both Wilder and Farke. You could also use it to label the faith City's German head coach placed in Ben Godfrey, Jamal Lewis, Max Aarons and Todd Cantwell.
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Or the wider commitment at Norwich City to transforming the buildings and the belief around the importance of the academy, to sustain the work of Farke and sporting director Stuart Webber.
This is nothing to do with Wilder's personal recognition and everything about why Farke has been consistently overlooked.
Wilder's managerial feats deserve to be hailed.
He is a spiky, confrontational presence but he is also an astute, inspirational leader who has done a remarkable job with limited resources at Bramall Lane. But so has Farke.
To take a club that finished in the middle ranks of the league last season, remove James Maddison and Josh Murphy out of financial necessity, and then construct a squad packed with youth and astutely acquired gems from overseas is no less epic an achievement.
The suggestion Wilder is a manager and Farke is simply a head coach is semantics. For those making that argument - beyond the borders of Norfolk - it overlooks how pivotal he is in recruitment.
Farke's key relationship with Webber is built on trust. Webber may have hand picked Farke but it is a marriage of equals. His coach does not inherit players and even if that was the case the litmus test is results on the pitch.
On that measure the German was peerless in the Championship.
Plus you can be sure Guardiola works within the framework of a similar continental model at Manchester City, and that did not preclude him from being named the LMA Premier League manager of the year for a second consecutive campaign.
Farke lifted the silverware that mattered most at Villa Park.
City's head coach will not lose sleep over any perceived slights. As he himself said after winning his one and only monthly managerial award from the Football League, back in November, if he sought individual recognition he would have stuck to tennis.
There may be deeper discussions to be had elsewhere about why certain facets of British football appear to remain insular. Farke was one of only three non-English managers to win the monthly prize this past season.
Wolves' Nuno Espirito Santo was one of only two non-English managers the season before. Neither was named EFL Championship manager of the year for plotting title wins at their respective clubs.
Webber himself certainly alluded to this faultline in the domestic game after promotion was sealed, when he referred to the flak he had taken for opting to appoint Farke and before him fellow German David Wagner at Huddersfield Town.
"I get stick for bringing in two foreign coaches. I would love to bring a young, British one in but they have to open their mind and accept they need help," he said.
"Too many get an opportunity and they go against their own philosophy.
"If I look at my experience of interviewing young English managers here and at Huddersfield you still come up against this reluctance to play young players or look at the foreign transfer market.
"They want good, solid English professionals to get out of the Championship."
Not at Norwich. Farke was best in class in his respective year group.
The league table really never lies.
Just not good enough for some, it would seem.