'Without them, I am nothing' - Farke eyes one final prize for City
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Never mind after the Lord Mayor’s show. Daniel Farke wants a Championship title for after the awards show, to put a fitting seal on Norwich City’s season.
Farke’s own mantlepiece was notable for the absence of any personal recognition over recent months, despite engineering a second consecutive promotion to the Premier League.
Beat Reading at Carrow Road and the German can add another trophy to his newly-acquired Championship manager-of-the season prize.
Add a double player-of-the-year for Emi Buendia, and three other team mates joining him in the Championship team-of-the-season, and it is clear City’s achievement is causing ripples well beyond Norfolk.
“I would have taken all of my players in the team,” joked Farke. “It says a lot that Oliver Skipp is not in the team of the year, although he was close to winning our own club award.
"Teemu (Pukki) is in contention for the Championship shortlist for player-of-the-year and doesn’t even make our top three.
“It's always difficult to pick these things, and the judging panel has to make sure that it's not all in yellow. But the team of the season was still quite yellow and green and for that I don't complain too much. I have said before, for me, I do not need individual awards.
"Otherwise I play tennis or golf. But I accept it on behalf of my coaches and all the backroom staff. Without them, I am nothing.”
Farke is tipping Veljko Paunovic’s Reading to earn plaudits next season, despite slipping out of play-off contention after a blistering start to the Championship.
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For that reason alone, the City chief is wary of a Royals’ outfit with nothing to play for in terms of league status over these final two games.
“It's a bit unpredictable to judge. My gut feeling is that this side is a really fantastic, interesting team,” said Farke. “Such an exciting, promising side. I'm pretty sure they will be in a top position next season.
"Perhaps you get this feeling at the crunch time period they had many young players, and were there with a few too many draws in order to finish in the top six.
"Maybe the pressure stopped them a little bit but now the pressure is away and they can shine again.
“I'm also quite sure after a really good season for them, even with a disappointing outcome in terms of the top six, they will want to finish with a highlight.
"Maybe a good result at the team who are top, plus they will want some momentum for next season. So for that I expect a really highly motivated and highly focused team, who can just concentrate on letting their individual quality shine.”
Norwich will not lack for motivation themselves, and Farke confirmed yesterday he had no fresh fitness concerns from the squad who won 3-1 at QPR last weekend.
Christoph Zimmermann’s attempt to return from a hamstring issue before the end of the campaign has suffered a setback.
“There was a little bit of hope to join us next week in team training but he had a small muscular problem so it is unlikely that he will be with us," said Farke. “Even if he could make one or two sessions it makes no sense to bring him for the final game day of this season. A bit like with Lukas Rupp the priority now is to be fit for pre-season.
“Yes, my lads are highly motivated and they want to show this but sadly this is never a guarantee that things really work out because there's also an opponent who is standing in our way. I love a lot the job Veljko is doing.
"We know that if we are good in our tactical behaviour, concentrate on our discipline in certain areas and what we're doing, then we have a great chance but we have to be at our best.”