Tough love from Canaries’ chief
- Credit: PA
Daniel Farke is warning his Norwich City players to stop feeling sorry for themselves or forget plotting a Premier League great escape.
Farke felt there was a period after Tim Krul’s midweek gaffe at Arsenal his players retreated, and wants no repeat against Brighton on Saturday lunchtime at the start of a week that could seal the Canaries’ fate.
“There is still a chance but in this best of nine series we are down three so it tells you have unbelievably difficult it is,” he said. “We know we have some crucial games against opponents who are on our level in the league. But when you lose 4-0 you have to be humble and self-critical. We knew Arsenal would be difficult, after 120 minutes against Manchester United and only one centre back available.
“There are many reasons why we could feel sorry for ourselves but I want us to look in the mirror and see (at Arsenal) we were not on our top level in terms of concentration in the key moments and we have to make sure we get back to that level.
“I felt we didn’t do that for a spell after the first goal. We seemed to feel sorry for ourselves and we lost that aggressiveness to our play.”
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Farke’s squad have failed to pick up a point or score a goal in the Premier League since the resumption, and there was a sobering assessment from the head coach ahead of the Seagulls’ visit.
“From the first day I said if we can stay in this league it would be a bigger miracle than our unexpected promotion,” he said. “We came up with a bunch of young lads, academy products, and players who in the main had not featured in this league.
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“Even before the season started I would have said we had a 5pc chance to stay up, as long as we had all our key players available and a bit of luck along the way. But in reality I doubt any other club was hit by so many injuries to key players.
“So with those odds in 19 out of 20 cases you are probably relegated.
“Of course it is disappointing and it is not realistic, let’s be honest, to say at this stage we can stay in the league. We have won five games in 32 league matches, now we have to win five from the last six.
“But let us concentrate on what we can deliver, which is performances. That is our only focus right now.”
Farke cautioned those seeking to make comparisons with how Brighton have bridged the divide from the Championship need to understand the financial reality.
“You could say there are similarities in how Graham (Potter) wants his team to dominate possession but it is also difficult to compare,” he said. “They were still able to bring in quality - when I think about Neal Maupay - I would also like to have him in the yellow shirt but Brighton have the financial opportunities.
“If you are outstanding in the Championship it doesn’t automatically mean you can be top class in the Premier League. But we knew this before a ball was kicked. There was no other option for us.
“We are the only self-funded club and we were in a situation we still had to pay for some sins of the past. Both (Aston) Villa and Sheffield United have spent tens of millions in two transfer windows. We spent something like £1.5m. I am not naïve.”
Farke’s gloomy injury bulletins have been a regular feature this season, but on Friday he sounded an upbeat note over defensive duo Christoph Zimmermann and Sam Byram. Both have undergone injection therapy to try and avoid fresh surgery.
“With Christoph it looks quite good. It seems the injections are working and he is already back on the training pitch doing some individual work,” said the City chief.
“We even have some hope he might be able to return to team training by the end, although that is probably more with a view to be back for pre-season.
“In theory he could be back for the last two or three games, but the main thing is the injections appear to have worked.
“With Sam it looks okay so far. A bit too early to judge if he doesn’t need surgery.
“Maybe another week or two before we make a final decision on the surgery.”
Grant Hanley (hamstring) was recently ruled out for the season, and midfielder Moritz Leitner will now join him after Farke confirmed he had returned to Germany for a hernia operation.