Through troubled waters to unexpected success - Farke reflects on spell as City boss
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Daniel Farke has experienced the highs and lows of managing at Norwich City - now he is hoping to defy the odds at Carrow Road with promotion from the Championship once again.
When he arrived at the club, he discovered a club on the brink of financial disaster and navigated tricky waters to construct the most unexpected of title wins. Harsh lessons were learned in the Premier League, but Farke still feels like he is the best man for the job despite advice he has received from outside sources.
City's boss has been linked with clubs in the Bundesliga and elsewhere in England but elected to stay at Carrow Road due to believing he possesses the best skill set to help the club return to the Premier League.
“Everyone in this business recommended ‘listen, with this squad, without any experience, you need a miracle to stay in this Premier League.’ Everyone told me. Every coach in Germany and at Premier League level told me I had to cry for more quality.
“For the short term picture, it would have helped me if we’d have signed two players for £20m. It would have been possible if we had not paid for the sins of our past, not invested in the future of the club, not extended the contracts and not invested in the infrastructure.
“I got the feeling that if there is one coach with some credit in the bank and backs the club with this approach, then it is me. If we got relegated, I knew we would get lots of punishment and stick. I can handle this. I’m old enough. If I leave right now, I’d make my life easier and I had lots of offers. Even the agents recommended leaving because it couldn’t get better. I wanted to leave the club in a better situation than I found it.”
Overcoming adversity and sorting through the wreckage once he first joined the club was pivotal to implementing his ideas and moving the club forwards. That meant Farke had to make some tough decisions.
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“It was a big challenge. That is one of the main reasons I wanted to sign with this club. If I’m honest, there were some easier opportunities in Germany. I got the feeling that to work abroad, to work not as a native speaker and to become the first non-UK head coach in the history and then to work at a club with such a big history but also such an emotional club.
“For twenty miles, there is no Premier League club. There was a Championship club but not at the same level like we are. It is unbelievably emotional; the stadium is always emotional and if we win a game then we think we’re going to fight for the Premier League title and if you lose a game then the world goes down.
“In the situation, it was a fresh start but unbelievable financial pressure, we needed to rely on our youth and implement a special style of play and how we want to work," Farke told the Official Norwich City Podcast.
“Even in the first year, we had great players but our group was a bit too old and it didn’t really fit with our style or how we wanted to go forward. We needed to sell some of our best players, we had great players like Jonny Howson, Graham Dorrans, I liked them a lot but we had to sell them because the financial pressure was so high.
“It was sad because I had to take some strict and harsh decisions. We had to split with some players where if we were able to work with them five years ago when they were a bit young, it would have been a dream because they were great players.”
The top-flight proved as tough as Farke expected. City finished bottom and only recorded 21 points. A mantra inside the walls of Colney is to 'ignore the noise' when criticism comes their way.
External sources and some supporters were questioning why City didn't spend money in their pursuit of top-flight survival and, despite being frustrated at times, Farke believes their approach to last season was the right one.
“It is frustrating but it’s important to make sure you’re not too influenced in your work. For example, I think about when we played Southampton and we lost the game 3-0. We got lots of stick. The players got lots of stick, my coaching staff, head coach, everyone.
“We were criticised for not being flexible in our style. We changed our base formation four or five times, made five substitutes and tried everything. They brought in Danny Ings for £22million and had a player like Che Adams, I was interested, we were interested but we couldn’t afford to sign him.
“We had to compete with this but it came back down to quality. It was frustrating because I knew this. We weren’t fighting with the same tools but if you’re too annoyed then you can’t work in this job for Norwich City.”