Norwich City Head Coach Daniel Farke says that he doesn’t label any game as ‘easy’ or ‘winnable’, as 20th-placed City take on 19th-placed AFC Bournemouth in the Premier League on Saturday.
“I wouldn’t label one game as easy or winnable,” he said. “We always have to be at our best level in order to have a chance. We’ve sadly proven that we will also lose games against top sides if we’re not at our best level.
“It’s always important to be defensively solid, brave and calm the nerves to be well structured. There’s a balance between confidence and discipline - that will be key against Bournemouth.”
Eddie Howe’s side were third in the league in mid-September, but a string of defeats impacted by a growing injury list saw them fall into the relegation zone in January.
“You wouldn’t expect them to be in this position, but it says a lot about how competitive this league is,” Farke added. “They have a top coach with Eddie Howe who has done a fantastic job over the years. It’s a good club with fantastic players and team spirit, but even they can struggle when certain details aren’t perfect because small margins can make a huge difference.”
Two players who could make their City debuts against Bournemouth are new signings Lukas Rupp and Ondrej Duda, who both joined the club this week.
“We’ve got more midfield options so it’s good to have them around,” Farke explained, justifying the transfer targets. “It’s a bit tricky to sign players in January because you don’t have pre-season with them and the games are coming thick and fast, so it’s not so easy to settle in, but they’ve been here all week and are experienced lads, quality players and good characters.
“We had been having 16 players in training with some from the academy. It’s not healthy to have few options. We don’t need a squad of 40 players but it’s important to have competition and we didn’t have much in the last few weeks.
“It was important to bring players in with quality, experience and character. We’re unbelievably happy to have Lukas and Ondrej. We allowed a few players to go on loan and permanently as well. The two players who were closest to the starting lineup were Dennis Srbeny and Patrick Roberts – both offensive – so we wanted to bring those types of players in.
“You could say we needed a centre-back, but while Grant Hanley, Christoph Zimmermann, Ben Godfrey and Timm Klose were injured after the summer transfer window closed, three of them are fit and Timm isn’t far away, so we are covered.
“You could argue we need to bring a striker in after playing an 18-year-old up front at Manchester United, but we now have Teemu Pukki, Josip Drmic and Adam Idah available for one position, so we are covered.
“Where we were weak in quantity was on the wing and at full-back. Rupp has played as a winger and as a full back, so he can cover both positions. He can also play in centre-midfield, so in the long-term he can cover Alex Tettey and Mario Vrancic.
“In our number ten role we didn’t deliver enough goals. I love my players, but we’ve played three in number ten and only one of them scored – Kenny McLean with a header against Man City when playing a holding midfield role.
“We needed to improve the end product, so we brought in Ondrej. Lukas is a perfect fit for now and the long-term. If Ondrej works it will be great for us and him, if not then we haven’t risked the future of the club with a stupid deal, so compliments to Stuart Webber.”
Farke also discussed the upcoming business end of the Premier League season, expressing his gratitude for the backing of the supporters as City fight to make a great escape.
“To stay in the league, we probably need to win seven of our last 16 games and we know it’s a huge task. Sunderland closed the gap in 2014 and it was a big surprise. That proves that everything is possible.
“If we win all of our home games, it will be enough so our supporters can bring us over the line. Regardless of the opposition – Bournemouth or Liverpool – we want to win every game. There will be tricky periods during the games, so we need the backing of the supporters.
“I don’t take the support as given. Often, you’re judged just by results, so it’s not normal to applaud the manager after losing 4-0 [as City fans did last weekend]. It’s tough for them to wait for a win, but I appreciate their support and am unbelievably grateful. The fans love the club and put so much passion into it, so they deserve us to surprise the world again and work on another miracle.”