‘He has been in the mix for a possible return to Dortmund’ – German football expert reveals interest in City boss
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It’s a rumour which has been doing the rounds in Germany for much of the past year and now German football expert Raphael Honigstein has gone a step further, claiming Borussia Dortmund are considering Norwich City boss Daniel Farke as their potential next head coach.
Farke joined the Canaries from Dortmund's second team in May 2017, having led BVB II to second place in Regionalliga West in his first full season in charge, after finishing fourth in 2015-16 having been appointed midway through the season as David Wagner left for Huddersfield.
After a difficult first campaign of transition saw City finish 14th in the Championship amid many changes on and off the pitch which were being put in place by sporting director Stuart Webber, Farke's attacking style and possession based approach brought a wonderful title triumph and promotion to the Premier League in 2018-19.That momentum was punctured by a lengthy defensive injury crisis however and, having had limited funds to invest in the promoted squad, Norwich head into 2020 sitting bottom of the table and six points from safety with 18 games left to play.
However, supporters have been left hugely frustrated by a succession of impressive performances, featuring plenty of stylish attacking play, not bringing the results which many have felt they deserved - with that verve and bravery on the ball catching the eye of pundits throughout the season.
Despite being bottom of the Premier League, the Canaries have a highly rated international striker in Teemu Pukki on nine goals, playmaker Emi Buendia impressing with six assists and a host of top creative stats as he targets a place in the Argentina squad and talented youngsters catching the eye, including Todd Cantwell and Max Aarons.
Honigstein, a regular pundit for BT Sport, was speaking on The Totally Football Show podcast and had initially been asked about Norwich's lack of summer spending - before being confident enough in Dortmund's interest in Farke to question whether the 43-year-old would stay if relegation is not avoided.
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"It's very difficult to say because spending money doesn't always equal quality, as we know from clubs like West Ham, for example," said Honigstein.
"I tend to err on the side of giving the club credit in saying that there is a strong possibility we might go down and if we sign all these Premier League players on Premier League wages, when we go down we'll have a real problem on our wage bill and might never go up again, even with the parachute payments.
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"So being in a position where you can establish yourself as a contender to go up immediately again might actually make more sense for Norwich's organic growth, even though the fans will probably look back and second guess those decisions, which is normal.
"The question is whether Farke will actually be there because he has been in the mix for a possible return to Dortmund, as head coach, in case Lucien Favre's time as head coach is coming to an end, which has been a constant source of debate in Dortmund, where he is very highly rated.
"That should tell you that people are looking beyond the results and within the context of what he has done and what he can do, that's he's still a pretty extraordinary manager."
Dortmund currently sit fourth in the Bundesliga and seven points adrift of leaders Red Bull Leipzig as the German top flight pauses for its winter break, with eight wins from 17 games.
That has seen Favre come under pressure, despite missing out on the title by just two points to Bayern Munich at the end of his first season in charge, being knocked out of the Champions League in the first knockout round by Tottenham.
BVB have made it through to the knockout stages of the Champions League again though and a last 16 tie against Paris Saint-Germain awaits in February.
Big fees have been paid out in recent seasons though, bringing high expectations at the Westfalenstadion. England star Jadon Sancho was reportedly one of the players who had fallen out with Favre earlier this season, with a 2-1 loss at Hoffenheim ahead of the winter break sparking fresh doubts.
It would seem a huge step up for Farke though, who studied the methods of Thomas Tuchel closely during his 18 months with Dortmund, going from Norwich to a Champions League club with crowds of up to 80,000.
Former Huddersfield boss Wagner has enjoyed a revival back home in Germany since quitting midway through Huddersfield's slump to relegation last season though, with his Schalke team currently fifth in the Bundesliga.
Farke did sign a contract through until 2022 earlier this year however and spoke of how much he was relishing his role at Carrow Road in October, as he took charge of his 100th league game, saying: "I feel that I'm totally in the right place. I enjoy my life here and I like the challenge to create something special, and we are creating something special at the moment.
"I feel really honoured and blessed and look forward to be allowed to work in this responsible role for such a long time. You can't take it for granted but it would be a great honour to be here even longer.
"Then hopefully one day we can look back in this spirit and I would be happy if the people can say, 'Okay, he's done alright and we'll take this'.
"To be honest, I don't look back too much. It was mentioned to me in the beginning of the week so you have to be unbelievably thankful to the key people in our club - to our owners Delia and Michael, to Stuart (Webber) and to our board but also to our supporters to trust me and allow me to help the yellow shirts to succeed.
"I am humble and just thankful that I'm allowed to plan this extraordinary role for this amazing club and it's a great privilege."