This week, Johnny’s positive look at our managers and how they perform on telly and radio goes down the A47 to Norwich to find a man who looks like an action hero who might fight robots, possibly on a horse whilst wielding a huge sausage. That’ll be Daniel Farke, then…
Who are ya?
Daniel is 42 and was born in Steinhausen, which was in West Germany back in 1976. His playing career as a striker was all done in the boondocks of lower-league German football, largely with SV Lippstadt 08. On retiring he took over in the dugout for six years and managed to get them up two divisions into the fourth tier. From there he went to Borussia Dortmund II, the reserve side. From there he was plucked by Norwich City sporting director Stuart Webber, who had previously worked at Huddersfield Town and had found David Wagner in the same role as the same club. First season in charge was only a modest affair, finishing 14th, but everything has changed this season. Currently they top the league, four points clear of Sheffield United and Leeds United, having lost just six games and top scoring with 77 goals. Fair to say Farke Life, as the song goes (even though I’m told it is pronounced Fark-er), is sweet these days.
🙌🏼🙌🏼 FARKE LIFE 🙌🏼🙌🏼 pic.twitter.com/852zJBo5nK
— Talk Norwich City (@TalkNorwichCity) February 24, 2019
On a small budget he’s gone about squeezing the best out of limited resources, exemplified by signing top scorer Teemu Pukki from Brondby on a free. Like all the best modern managers at whatever level they operate, he coaches players to make them better. This is how he’s impressed. While some other clubs in the Championship have tried to spend their way out of the league, Daniel has done it the old-fashioned way.
Seems to be the sort of manager who is good at motivating his players. Has a wheel of fortune that players who break rules can spin and take their chances with, instead of accepting a fine.
A tall, solidly built unit, he has the tough look of a man who plays bass in a German industrial thrash metal band. Face looks carved out of oak and tar. Pitchside he’s all about the big coat and the sportswear but put him in a suit, and he has the enviable, not-really-trying-but-still-look-really-stylish thing going on which definitely gives him the air of a Hollywood action hero. Easy to imagine him dishing out a beating to some insane robots while hanging onto a rope and dangling over a vat of molten lead. That or being a moody, SAAB-driving Detective Inspector in a Scandinavian subtitled 10-parter about a serial killer who skins his victims and makes clown masks out of their faces.
His presence has apparently led to an increase in the sales of sausage in the local area, which is good because sausage in an excellent word to say in a broad Norfolk accent.
Before leaving Lippstadt he was paraded around the ground on a horse, for reasons that need not trouble us here. Norwich fans have of course incorporated a reference to this to the tune of Stone Roses Waterfall and all seem very amused about singing “we’ve got Farke on a horse”. He’s even been asked at press conferences whether he’ll be parading around Carrow Road in similar fashion if they’re promoted. As he looks extremely awkward about the whole thing, it seems unlikely.
— Jeebs Palmer (@JeebsPalmer) March 8, 2019
A superb English speaker, press conferences are a mixture of big roaring laughs and darkly-knitted eyebrow scowling. Seems a very thoughtful sort of chap. “You have to have a clear philosophy as a club, how you want to play, the work ethic, the atmosphere. We are all addicted to results. But the biggest chance to do that is to work in a methodical way. It’s important you are not too focused on public opinion.”
That’s a very refreshing approach. Far too many managers are forever trying to appease fans. No good can come from that, not least because fans’ wisdom, such as it might be, is largely always born of hindsight and not from vision.
Got the love of fans by winking during a contretemps with a very angry Paul Lambert in the local derby with Ipswich. This is the sort of tiny detail that seems to be so important in such situations.
Cleverly he’s also spoken of how he wants to “make this Club a permanent member of the best 25 clubs in the whole country. That means that we are always allowed to play either in the Premier League or to at least fight in the play-off ranks to reach the Premier League” which gives him some room for relegation from the top flight and still be fulfilling his aim.
Although he’s got great English, amusingly the odd word gets misplaced.
For example, “I’m sure we will travel highly motivated and recreated enough to be there with a good performance”. Who doesn’t like being recreated?
I love ‘scene’ in this sentence, it sounds very groovy and late-60s.
“…we concede a goal close to the half time whistle so I was pretty annoyed with this scene because such a small situation can change the world in football.”
An often underrated element of having non-British manager is that the press conferences and interviews can be far more interesting simply because the manager hasn’t had the cliched British manager software uploaded to his hard drive and thus actually says something of interest
Media hit or miss?
Our football media is utterly obsessed with the Premier League and its worship of mammon over soul and thus seems unable to remove its gaze from the endlessly unfolding soap opera, so even though Daniel is taking the Championship by storm, there isn’t too much national limelight shone onto him, in much the same way as was the case with David Wagner. But as Norwich seem very likely to be promoted into the hanging on in quiet desperation league, his profile will soon be much higher.
He looks good on camera, has charm, wit and a sparkle of star quality about him, all of which are so essential for the high-profile big club manager these days. When the camera loves you, it is half the battle in getting enough to time enact your ideas.
Proper Football Man rating: Hot Dog
Yer Proper Football Man doesn’t believe in education, preferring to smirk knowingly whilst saying they’ve been to the University of Life, an educational establishment they consider far superior, even though they still don’t know the difference between gross and net. Is gross really disgusting money Jeff? Like when you drop a 20 down the toilet?
So the fact Mr Farke has got a degree in Business does not sit well with them. They also fear educated people because they know words of several syllabubs, Richard.
Anyway, the PFM knows all about business, especially about the business of getting a lot of money for talking rubbish on the TV. A German being manager of Norwich City just feels really odd to them as they probably thought Delia Smith was in charge. Having come from the 4th division of German football means they have to start witlessly waffling on about good young English managers not getting chance, seemingly unaware of the global nature of football and the fact it isn’t the 1970s anymore except in the choice of his own aftershave.
However, the boys do love sausage and have noted that Frankfurt must’ve been named after the delicious Frankfurter hot dogs that they used to buy outside the ground from a man in a white overcoat, stained with ketchup, or possibly blood. And they can be persuaded to wear those leather shorts as well once the second bottle of brandy kicks in. They also think they’re clever for spotting that Daniel’s surname sounds a lot like Ray Parlour swearing, which they love and is never not funny. He also allows them to make their sour kraut joke as well, which they love even though they’ve heard it a thousand times but still don’t know what sauerkraut actually is.
Also the German does look like he could handle himself in a ruck, and the boys love nothing more than someone who can batter them in the face relentlessly without their arm getting tired.
But they’re now worried that in the public imagination being a PFM is a very bad thing and that they’re getting increasingly regarded as out-of-touch narrow-minded Little Englanders at a time when the media is run by snowflakes and them lesbosexuals. Thus if they don’t mend their ways, they may never again get asked to pass opinion on players whose names they can’t even pronounce, in return for eye-watering sums of money. So nodding approvingly of Daniel Farke’s achievements is a good career move for them. After all he’s only German like the Royal Family, god bless ‘em, so it’s not like he’s a proper foreign, is it?
What the people say
Asking for contributions for a piece on a manager of a relatively small regional club is never going to drum up a lot of response and so it was here but what did come in was highly appreciative of the big German.
Has got us playing beautiful football, and has even overseen a noticeable reduction in the “jus gerriduvit” mob.
Not since Ulysses S. Grant has a man ridden a horse so eloquently and demanded so much respect #NCFC
— Simon | ShareMyYear (@sharemyyear) March 28, 2019
If he wasn’t a manager, would easily get a role in a scandi noir thriller.
Has the cheeky look of a man about offer to fix your fridge whilst a saxophone plays softly in the background.
Forgetting the league table and the football played, the bloke is undeniably the most likeable manager I can ever remember us having. To say I get the feeling I’m content is an understatement
I enjoy listening to him when he’s interviewed after a game. He speaks so quickly with passion, knowledge & enthusiasm.
Farke has been a revaluation so strong his wink got lambert sent off and effectively relegated Ipswich
His success makes PFM Investigator Ian Abrahams displeased
As much as I'm not quite a fan of Norwich, I'm enjoying that
— Lord KIA (@_KunleAjao) March 29, 2019
At the end of last season I wished he’d Farked Off !! Pleased he’s proved me wrong ,he’s Farkeing Brilliant !!
He’s brought the good times back to the club after a slow start last year. Has shipped out the old guard and put faith in youth. We play attractive, intelligent passing football every week regardless of opposition. Also, love how he starts every reply with “jah, for sure…”
He is brilliant. Had a plan, stuck to it even though last year was the dullest we’ve had for many a year. He has moulded a great team, spirit and style & by god it is fun to watch now. Fantastic speaker as well.
He took a squad bloated with ageing, high wage, average players, and turned it into one fighting for the title despite having to sell the good players to cover gaping holes in the finances. All while instilling a beautiful style of football and helping to create a bond with fans
— Robert Broke (@rob_broke) March 29, 2019
How long has he got?
Although he is massively vaunted by Norwich fans right now, and even though there’s that song about the horse, all of that will be quickly forgotten once they start getting handed their arses every week in the top flight. So, as his career seems to be following that of David Wagner quite closely, he’ll probably survive for a season in the Premier League before struggling in the second and thus leaving by mutual consent in the vain hope to prevent relegation, even though merely existing like a zombie in the Premier League with no hope of achieving anything seems pointless and even though the financial rewards will be merely frittered away on keeping them in the league in order to keep doing the same thing until everyone dies boredom.
However, his time at Norwich will have provided a quantum leap in terms of profile for him and as he’s just in his early 40s, there are plenty of years to ply his not inconsiderable talents all across Europe. He’s an attractive personality and when coupled with talent in the job means he’s got a great, long career ahead of him.