Working from home is presenting new challenges for Norwich City’s playing squad, but Head Coach Daniel Farke says the team are still coming together as well as making the most of their time away from the usual fixture schedule.
Speaking to canaries.co.uk from his home in Germany earlier this week, Farke explained how he’s been getting on during these challenging times.
“I’m fine and all the people who surround me are fine as well, so we can’t complain too much,” he said. “Of course, it’s a strange and crazy time that we’re all not used to, having to self-isolate and not having a social life.
“It’s challenging and demanding at times, but I don’t want to complain too much because there are people who are struggling much more in this situation. All in all, we’re in a good place.”
One thing this break does allow for is additional scouting of players, however, not to mention the freedom to spend more time with family at home.
“It’s quite normal to carry on working from home, so although there’s no possibility at the moment to train as a group, there are many demands,” Farke added. “Firstly, we now have time to analyse the season a bit more and to go into a bit more detail.
“We stay in touch with all the staff members in order to prepare the players in the perfect way for when they will come back. Of course, it’s important to work on their individual training programmes and stay in touch with our sports science staff, physios and assistant coaches to make sure we make the right choices with our schedule.
“There’s lots of time for scouting players and analysing them using the laptop to work a bit closer with recruitment.
“Then there are the normal private demands – my family and children are at home, so we have to look after them and be a bit like a teacher for them at times. We would all prefer to continue normal work, but at least there is time right now for things we often don’t have as much time for, like scouting and planning for the new season and our last nine games.
“During normal everyday life, there’s not that much time to spend with family, so it’s quite important to do that with your loved ones at home.”
Although we’re going through a period of time without the typical training routine, Farke adds that this isn’t quite the same as the end of season summer break that players usually experience.
“You have to take the positives out of this,” he said. “It’s important to keep in mind that there are many worse scenarios for many people in the world. Everyone who is at least okay in this moment shouldn’t complain too much.
“It still feels a bit strange because when there’s a summer break in the summer and after the season, you can relax a bit and prepare for something new. Now, it feels like it’s not done, it’s just a little break, so it’s not possible to calm down completely.
“The children go to school and have to carry on with their schoolwork at home, so it doesn’t feel like a holiday, but at least there is time to spend with the family. It’s important to value that and appreciate that you are allowed to do that.”
Of course, the manager’s job is often informed by those around him, and Farke insists that, while he is staying in touch with the rest of the first-team playing staff, he wants to give them time away from the usual environment during this period.
“I try to have less contact at the moment. During the whole year, my staff are seeing my face and hearing my voice. Each day, I’m there to analyse games and speak about the next opponent. They see me when they put the tele on to analyse our games. Each day, they have to handle that I’m in the driver’s seat and I tell them what they have to do.
“For that, I try to give them a bit of free time. I’m sometimes tempted to speak to them and ask them about the programme, but I think it’s also important at the moment to stay away from them a bit because the season is nine months old and since last June we’ve worked every day together, quite often doing two sessions a day or travelling to games.
“They have to handle me more than their families, so it’s important when there’s a scenario like we have right now not to annoy them too much! Of course, I’m sometimes in touch when there’s something urgent or a birthday, but I don’t want to annoy them too much.
“Sometimes, as a Head Coach, you’re tempted to be in touch with three or four telephone calls a day to speak to them in order to pretend we work unbelievable hours. We’re still working a lot, but it’s important to use this time to give them some when they don’t have to handle my voice or face anymore!
“It’s not like I need to call them every day to ask what they had for breakfast or how they spent their afternoon.”
Norwich City’s players have also been trying to keep themselves busy while at home, with Emi Buendia catching attention for his new haircut!
“I heard about Emi’s haircut,” Farke said. “It’s important that the players have some private time. In normal seasons, it’s important to have the summer break because, although everyone likes to work with each other, after more or less ten and a half months, to have a break for a few weeks without the same faces and voices is important.
“We’re having that period right now. When we can resume playing, there will be a tough schedule with many games within a short time, so there won’t be much time for a real summer break.
Ey @NorwichCityFC ! 🙃 When we get back, the connection with Pukki will be perfect!! 🧑🏻🦲⚽👨🏻🦲— Emi Buendia (@Em10Buendia) March 24, 2020
Canaries, who do you want to the be the next? 🤪✂ @ToddCantwell_10 @alextettey86 @BenG0dfrey @TimKrul who else? 😇 pic.twitter.com/Kxg82YEgNK
“There’s no big or proper winter break in England like in other countries, so when we keep going in hopefully a few weeks, we will have to keep going into the summer of 2021 or something.
“It’s important to give them private time so they can come back with fresh motivation and enjoy spending hours with each other.
“We have some training sessions that they have to join in all together. Last week, we had a yoga session they had to join and you feel that they enjoy to be together and chat together, but it’s also important they have private time and come back physically in a good mood and shape.”
Last week, the news broke that Norwich City’s players and staff had donated more than £200,000 to help those negatively impacted by COVID-19. It wasn’t a difficult decision to make, according to Farke.
“It’s a sign of how we run this club, it’s more like a family,” he said. “For everyone who is involved, be they a big supporter, staff member or player, or anyone emotionally connected, it was unbelievably important to react quick.
“I know there are many discussions about salaries and wages, but for us it was important to react quick and help the people who need help. We lead privileged lives and are blessed and honoured to work for this amazing club.
“We’re in a situation where we earn lots of money, so it’s quite important when it’s necessary to pay something back. We wanted to prove that when it’s urgent and people need us, we are there to help. It wasn’t a difficult decision for us to donate this money.
“It’s perhaps easy to say we are one family, but when there is an urgent situation it’s important to prove that we stick together, and no-one is left behind. We wanted to show our commitment and responsibility, not just for the football club, but also for the whole community.”
Asked for one final message to supporters of Norwich City, Farke was keen to re-iterate the importance of togetherness and optimism for the future.
“Let’s stick together and stay kind at heart,” he said. “It’s challenging for everyone, but more so for the older generations. There are many people struggling and suffering from coronavirus, so it’s important to look after each other and help.
“I know it’s not easy to self-isolate, especially if you have young children at home or are bored, but it’s important. We don’t have to have the perfect solution for our children’s maths homework, we have to make sure we don’t forget we are there for each other and show love for each other.
“As a big Norwich City family, I want us to stick together and if we do this we will come through this challenging time in a good way. One day, the sun will shine again, and we’ll all be back at Carrow Road to enjoy playing and watching football.”