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Daniel Farke: We had to be solid in defending

14 July 2020

Norwich City Head Coach Daniel Farke was pleased with his side’s defensive performance in their 1-0 defeat to Chelsea on Tuesday night.

The Canaries had four put past them the Saturday prior by West Ham United, but a focus on blocking the centre of the pitch nullified Chelsea’s threat through the middle at Stamford Bridge.

“After conceding four, the first rule was to be solid in defending,” Farke said. “In terms of the class of the opponent, I think we were spot on in what we wanted to do in our tactical terms. We were aggressive in the centre so I was pleased with the three central midfielders. They defended everything.

“Of course, when you’re so focused on the centre, it’s not that easy to control everything on the wings so out of one situation they were able to score the goal. There’s always work to do, but how committed we were today I was pleased with.

“Once you’ve been relegated, it can be easy to think about scoring goals as an individual, to get an assist or special trick, but we showed great togetherness and team spirit. For that, it’s remarkable, especially for a young side in a period they’ve been criticised for the first time.”

As for Farke’s overall reaction to the defeat, he explained how the goal could have been avoided but his side’s second half reaction was cause for optimism.

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“There are no happy days at the moment,” he admitted. “We’ve been relegated so we’re not dancing on the tables. We lost a game and we’re still disappointed, but I was pleased with our reaction because it was a difficult night for us.

“We’ve been relegated for two days and my young lads handled it against a highly motivated Chelsea team who needed to win after their game against Sheffield United to finish in the top four.

“They’re a top class side in the best league in the world, so it was a difficult game for us but we were competitive. We looked solid in defending, were well structured and our tactical behaviour was spot on.

“Sadly, we had an avoidable setback before the half-time whistle. We needed to apply more pressure to block the cross and defend it better in the centre, but it was also due to the quality of Christian Pulisic. There’s a reason they spent £60million on him. It was a top cross and Olivier Giroud is one of the best box strikers in the world, so it’s difficult to defend those goals, but possible.

“I was pleased with our reaction because we were more competitive in the second half but weren’t able to create that one big chance that we needed to equalise. I was pleased with the commitment and togetherness, so I have compliments for the performance even though we’re disappointed to lose again.”

Despite having relegation from the Premier League confirmed by West Ham on the weekend, the Canaries are still keen to deliver the best performances possible in the two remaining league games.

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“We spoke a lot about how important it is to be professional, show our pride and responsibility for our supporters and this yellow shirt,” Farke said. “Several players who haven’t had much game time like Josip Drmic, their workload was great for the team.

“It’s not the kind of game a striker wants. He wants to be in the box and fed with crosses. He just had to work with the long balls, pressing and fighting. It was the same with Lukas Rupp.”

Finally, Farke touched on the slight injury to Klose, who went down holding his knee in the first half but was able to carry on for the remainder of the game.

“It was a bit painful for Timm to go further on but we need him,” he said. “It’s tricky for my young lads like Ben, Max and Jamal who have to play every second at the moment in their first Premier League season, so it’s not easy but I’m pleased with their desire.

“It’s not easy for Timm to be involved in the goal, but he’s the most self critical guy in the dressing room and was unbelievably devastated. We have to back him. We would prefer him to be spot on in every situation but he was out for 18 months so you can’t expect miracles.”

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