'I don't have any doubts' - Every word of Farke's passionate defence of City's dry spell
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Daniel Farke launched a passionate defence of his Norwich City players this afternoon, when asked if he was worried about back-to-back goalless draws threatening his team's Championship dominance.
The Canaries boss began an answer of more than 10 minutes long, during his pre-match press conference ahead of Friday's away game against third-placed Swansea.
Including an FA Cup loss at Barnsley, City haven't scored for three successive games, which was followed by a 0-0 home draw with play-off chasing Middlesbrough on Saturday and a 0-0 draw away to mid-table Millwall on Tuesday, a team with one of the best defensive records in the division.
Despite those disappointments, City are unbeaten in six games and four points clear at the top of the table after keeping three clean sheets in their last four league matches.
Farke remained as calm and collected as ever, with a frustrated grimace rarely overtaking his polite smile, but was clearly determined to realign expectations as Norwich close on three months at the Championship summit.
From using club legends such as Darren Huckerby and Wes Hoolahan as examples, to comparing to fellow relegated Premier League sides Watford and Bournemouth both losing in midweek, Farke was in no mood for negativity when asked a question about the reaction to the draw at Millwall.
Here is Farke's passionate answer in full...
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“That’s a difficult question because I don’t have any doubts in my mind. In general I have to say the lads are doing fantastic and deserve all the praise.
“I know the nature of football, in this business sometimes we are crazy in how we judge everything but because we are there with two draws in this league, I wouldn’t be concerned at all.
“The outside world praises us for what we’re doing. We were quite honest and transparent that we want to finish in the top six this season and we are currently sitting 15 points clear of position seven.
“We are top of the league, we are sitting a few points clear in the automatic promotion ranks, I don’t know how many points that will be after the games in hand for Swansea and Brentford. The lads are doing fantastic, there is no doubt about this.
“It’s not like you win 46 games and finish with 138 points, in this league it is all about consistency, it is so difficult.
“When I judge our last performances, against Middlesbrough, a team who has lost their last two home games before they played us because of injuries to key players. They signed two players and a few players came back from injury, and they were just sitting outside the top six.
“We played against them without several key players and also had one of our key players in the offence sent off, Emi Buendia, we played 30 minutes of an underload and still didn’t allow them to have one chance against us, not one shot on target.
“It of course is always difficult to win the game and to create chances against them if we are on an underload. But also against Middlesbrough, we have won four points from them and two clean sheets. At the end of the season which team will have a better statistic against Middlesbrough?
“And Millwall, all of the teams in the top six drew against them; Brentford, Watford, Bournemouth, Reading drew against them.
“We played there three days after a game when we played 30 minutes with an underload, on a difficult pitch, we dominated for 75 minutes of the game and then were struggling the last 10 or 15 minutes when they brought some tall players on and tried to produce something hectic. But Tim Krul I think still had one save to make and we took a draw.
“Watford and Bournemouth, they always have a starting line-up with more than 1,000 Premier League appearances. They play a home game against a side bottom six (QPR) and Watford lost. Bournemouth plays at home against a side in the bottom three (Shefield Wednesday) and they lost.
“We play a difficult away game, against a team in mid-table in the middle of the season, with several key players not available, for example in the offence Jordan Hugill of course it would be good to have him as an option to change our game a little bit, Emi Buendia a key player, we played the last months without Marco Stiepermann, a proper number 10 on this level.
“The offensive players on the bench – Adam Idah, Kieran Dowell, Onel Hernandez – they are just back after being back from three months with injuries and of course not in their rhythm.
“We played there and drew the game. Of course it’s not like we are dancing on the table after a draw but it’s a proper result, no doubt about this.
“I have to say, we played against Millwall, and they had (Kenneth) Zohore and (Jed) Wallace up front and on the bench they had options like (Tom) Bradshaw, (Jon Dadi) Bodvarsson, Matt Smith and (Mason) Bennett for the offence - this is a really proper Championship side.
“For us on the bench Adam Idah was out for three months after a red card and a knee injury, surgery and then the Covid-19 situation. So with all due respect I don’t think it is realistic that we go there and just blow them away with four or five goals or whatever.
“Each and every game at this level is difficult. Also the outside world judge it in this way. I was nominated for Manager of the Month for October, November and December – January I’m not sure yet but no other team won more points than us, so I guess I will be nominated.
“I will miss out on the award, I’m used to it. But it doesn’t mean that I’m such a wonderful or great coach, it just means that the lads are doing absolutely fantastic.
“Each and every month we are nominated as the best team of the month, because this is what Manager of the Month means, and this is how the outside world judges us.
“It's not like we have a natural right to win the Championship title. You can count on one hand (how many times City have won that title), it’s not like each and every season we should be winning the title.
“We won the title two years ago with the best season in Norwich’s history (in the second tier) but we won the title on the last game day when Mario Vrancic scored at Villa Park. That’s the reality.
“It’s not like we are in cruise control, 20 points in front of the others. Right now we are playing a season where we are sitting top of the league and our point average is even better than it was two years ago, when we were there with the best season in Norwich City history.
“In this situation to have doubts or be concerned, fearing the worst or talking about whether our glass is half full or half empty, has nothing to do with the reality. The lads are doing fantastic.
“Speak with our legends. Alex Tettey is here for several years, or Darren Huckerby, a top lad and player who was successful, or Darren Eadie as a commentator, he was successful and knows what it means to be successful, or Wes Hoolahan, our legends.
“They had fantastic times here at Norwich but if you ask them how many titles did they win or how many times did they find it easy during a season and were in cruise control, 10 or 15 points ahead of the other leading positions and just won game after game, I think they will say ‘no, it was always hard work, never easy, yes we celebrated promotion but not that often by winning the title'.
“So it’s not in our DNA or natural given right that we win titles. I think it’s important also to stay realistic, we are top at the moment and what we are doing in terms of points average, we are playing the best season in the history of Norwich City Football Club – in terms of points and many topics.
“I’m far away from fearing the worst or perhaps the glass is half empty. This is also why I love Norwich City because I get the feeling that this club is always humble and realistic, we are not pretending to be more than we are.
“We are not a fake club where nothing is ever good enough, we are a club who stick together, we are one community, we know how difficult it is each and every game to win a proper game of football and this is why I love so much to work for this club.
“I also got the feeling that 90 or 95 per cent of our supporters and everyone connected with Norwich City appreciates it in this way. They say that the lads are doing fantastic and deserve all this praise.
“In football there is maybe always five per cent who are always searching for something negative or that ‘this’ is not good enough or ‘that’ should be better and I will always take this because we are playing football.
“We are living in the worst pandemic in a century and if it helps for people to moan about something in football or to worry about this, to get the frustration a bit out of their everyday life and it helps them, then I’ll take this.
“This is also what football is responsible for. We are living in such a privileged environment and are allowed to work in such a privileged role, so if we give them sometimes also a bit of an area of frustration or moaning or being disappointed, if it helps them to feel a bit more relieved and relaxed in their private life, then wonderful.
“We take this but I think 95 per cent of our supporters will judge it in the right way, that the lads are doing a fantastic job and are wonderful, they deserve all the praise.
“I’m far away from criticising players, they are doing fantastic. We still speak about wanting to score more goals than in the last few games and we want to create a few more chances, there are areas we can improve, that is normal.
“But in general, what these players are doing is fantastic. If anyone things with this group of players we should this league ahead of 25 opponents and perhaps the coach is too weak for this then I accept this criticism.
“But I won’t accept any criticism of my players or my staff, I think they are doing a cracking job and with this attitude we will travel to Swansea in a difficult situation, a third game in seven days.
“Like I mentioned, with the key players that I mentioned, Jordan Hugill, Emi Buendia and Marco Stiepermann unavailable. Onel Hernandez is available but was out for three months, Adam Idah for two-and-a-half months, Kieran Dowell two surgeries out for three months – so I don’t expect miracles from them.
“We will go with what we have got, we will work our socks off, we will fight together, we will stick together and if it doesn’t work, we keep going. If it does, even better and we are in an even better position.
“So I am far away about being worried or fearing the worst. I think we are enjoying the best times, at least in terms of points and everything, that we have ever delivered for this club. So far away from fearing the worst.
“It doesn’t feel like this because the stadium is not full and sadly the supporters are not allowed to come to Carrow Road and celebrate.
“But my message – your question was about my message to fans, 10 minutes ago or something! - is that it is the best times at the moment and not possible to be much better.”
- You can watch Farke's speech in full in the video at the top of this article