City chief's Colney home truths ahead of Reds' cup tie
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Daniel Farke has done enough talking. Now the stage is set for his Norwich City players to respond.
Carrow Road at the final whistle of Saturday’s 3-1 Premier League defeat to Watford was a mix of frustration and empty seats, from those who decided to head for the exits.
Colney the following morning was no more a welcoming environment, as the German spelt out to his troops what needs to change. Liverpool’s League Cup visit to Norfolk offers the first chance to turn the page.
“Saturday evening was not nice, horrendous in fact, and then the day after is even worse but it always helps to have that first session back on the training pitch,” said Farke. “We had a team meeting to analyse, to be self-critical, to be honest. It was a monologue from me to be honest.
"We have to improve our defending behaviour, we concede too many goals at the moment. We cannot hide behind the fact in this topic we are not good enough. We spoke as well about the reaction after the third goal. I do not want to see that again. Now we are in a much better mood and ready to go.
"I back them. I think it’s important to be always honest, but not to bury them alive.
"I am also critical and speak about what we have to improve. We have fantastic, young players who are full of potential and also highly motivated. I know some supporters may have got on the back of Brandon Williams because he stopped playing before the third goal and was just waiting for offside. We had the same topic a little bit with Bali Mumba at Manchester City. I cannot hide this. Of course a more experienced player would have played on.
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"Sometimes the positioning is not right, we are going into higher positions too early and that means we don’t control the counters. When you play an experienced team like Watford they will exploit this. It is my task to speak with our young players and to show them the scenes to make sure they improve.
“It’s not fun. It is also not easy because when you played at Championship level we were by far the best team, and at this higher level we have found it difficult to win games. Liverpool have lost one game in all competitions but we want to go to the next round.”
Christos Tzolis and Josh Sargent grabbed their chance to impress in the previous round’s 6-0 win over Bournemouth. Farke is pledging to ring the changes again.
“There is a lot of competition now. Last season if we had three games in seven days we opted to stick with more or less the same line up, but the intensity of these games is much higher and we have to be a bit careful with players,” he said. “We had some problems in pre-season, the Covid outbreak and the new signings arriving late. It is not easy then for these players to deliver top class performances every three days.
"We will definitely bring some fresh players in but not so much in order to rest others. It’s more like to be more competitive because I think against Liverpool we need players who can play with the highest intensity level.”
Farke on Monday reported no fresh fitness issues from those on duty against the Hornets. But the City chief did confirm Todd Cantwell is set to miss out due to personal reasons. Kieran Dowell and Jacob Sorensen come back into contention after failing to make the matchday squad at the weekend.
Dowell, in particular, could feel hard done by having started the previous Premier League game at Arsenal.
“An unbelievably tough decision because he produced a solid performance in the last match,” said Farke. “We opted to start against Watford with three quick players to try and attack the space in behind a bit more. Then we had Todd on the bench to add this creativity and those technical skills in that number 10 role.
“To have two of those type of players on the bench is sometimes difficult. You also need a full back, a centre back, a winger, a striker. I am pleased to have Kieran but in midfield there is lots of competition.
“Jacob missed some training and he was out as well, while Pierre Lees-Melou was ill in the week and he was on the bench.”
Christoph Zimmermann (ankle) is still sidelined. Sam Byram is yet to re-join full first team training after a fresh setback in the summer, following his long layoff from two hamstring surgeries, while Przemyslaw Placheta has not been under consideration as he recovers from Covid. The Pole could return to training next week.
City pushed Jurgen Klopp’s side for an hour in their opening Premier League duel last month before running out of steam in the second half. That script needs to change.
“We are not in the best position in the league but if I judge our first five games so far against Liverpool for 65 minutes we were competitive and exactly on the same level,” said Farke. “Manchester City was a difficult game, but that is always going to be tough for any side going to the Etihad.
"Against Leicester at home we had a standing ovation at the final whistle.
"We were pretty competitive at Arsenal and lost the game to a goal which took nearly five minutes to rule through VAR. We had one result that really hurts and that was Watford.”
The tie will go straight to penalties if the sides are level after normal time.
NCFC Extra: Farke on Norwich City booing