Not perfect but good enough for Farke
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Daniel Farke feels it will take a special team to win a special Championship in a season unlike any other.
The ongoing impact of the pandemic, particularly in condensing a football calendar where the English second tier is routinely packaged as a test of endurance as much as skill, means only the toughest will be left standing.
That could well include Reading for Farke ahead of Wednesday's match up, with the Royals arguably the surprise package to this point.
Reading won seven of their opening eight league games, and appear to have recovered their composure after a recent four-game downturn.
“They have done a fantastic job. It is not early doors after 18 league games. That is a proper amount of games,” said Farke. “To be in the top six and not far from the top underlines their quality. They are one of the best in the league.
"They had an outstanding start with many wins, then a dip, but now that consistency is back.
“They have really good players in possession, many offensive threats. We have to be at our best to protect our position. It is a game where small details will be determining.
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"This league is always relentless but even more this season. We are grinding out results and I am pretty pleased with what we have done.”
City’s last six league wins have all come by a one goal margin. Farke is already on record as suggesting the load on players this season will impact on the quality of the overall product.
“If you had seven or eight days between games then you have time to work on things,” he said. “It is quite normal more games in a shorter period of time means sometimes the quality is not that great across the league.
"We have to play in the toughest league in the world. To do this more or less without a pre-season or a proper summer break and then in a season that is one, one and a half months shorter than normal is hard. It is so difficult for the lads to go every three days.
"We don’t have any time to really work on things on the training pitch.
"Even in terms of recovery it is tricky.
"Compare it with other top leagues in Europe and quite often you find four or five sides maintaining that two point per game average. In this league there is one team.
"That is us. It says how tight this league is. Look at the teams struggling at the wrong end. Nottingham (Forest), you would expect them to be a really good competitor for the top six.
"It is fine margins. Every game can go in every direction. When you lose four or five you find yourself in trouble and the same applies if you win three or four on the spin, in terms of the top six.”
In such a gruelling environment Farke is thankful he can call on players like Christoph Zimmermann. The powerhouse centre back has grabbed his chance with Ben Gibson out injured.
“Looking back to the season we got promoted he was more or less untouchable. He was on a top level, in a perfect rhythm and full of confidence,” said Farke.
“We missed him a lot last season. Let’s be honest even when he was available and not injured it was hard to be in his best rhythm. Then he had some minor injuries at the start of this season.
"With Grant (Hanley) and Ben doing fantastically well there was no need to rush him back into the team. Even so, he looked unbelievably sharp on the training pitch, and maybe it was harsh to leave him out in a few games.
"I was never concerned when I had to throw him in. I am pleased with all my centre backs.
"There is always a little detail we can do better. Ben Gibson with the goal against Sheffield Wednesday. Christoph shifted to the near post against (Nottingham) Forest and Grant with the Blackburn goal.
"So not perfect, but to have two of these three available at all times we know we will be solid in the back four.”