On Tuesday afternoon, Norwich City Head Coach Daniel Farke held his first press conference at Lotus Training Centre, albeit via video call, since before lockdown began.
Following an hour of questions from the media, the boss put aside a further ten minutes to chat with canaries.co.uk about lockdown, training, the upcoming season restart and more.
You can read the interview transcript in full below!
canaries.co.uk: Now that we can reflect on the last few months, how has lockdown been for you?
DF: Like for all human beings, it’s been a strange and crazy time. We’ve tried to use lockdown as well as possible in terms of analysing the season and preparing for the restart and the future of the club.
It was strange to adapt to the situation but hopefully we’ve done the right work. It seems like the restart isn’t too far away now.
canaries.co.uk: Jamal Lewis told the media last week that he spent some of lockdown starting a degree in stocks and finance, so it looks like he’s been using the time off wisely!
DF: A degree as a football player would be even more important, but it’s always good when they use their time in a sensible way. Working on individual education is always a sensible way to spend such a period.
I have to praise the players because they all came back physically well prepared and in a really good condition. Of course, it’s strange when you’re not able to train on the football pitch with a ball as a team.
We have to make sure from day to day that we adapt our competitive rhythm, but physically we’re in quite a good position. Right now, during this little pre-season, we try to do our best to prepare them in the perfect way for the restart.
canaries.co.uk: What’s the mood like now the lads are back in the contact phase of training?
DF: The mood is good, but we don’t want to force anything. If a player feels uncomfortable or not happy with joining us as a group or not training, we wouldn’t put any pressure on him.
We wanted to create an atmosphere where everyone feels like Colney [Lotus Training Centre], our training ground, is more or less one of the safest areas in the whole country and that’s what we have done.
You can feel now the trust of the players in the processes and it’s growing more each day. It was strange for them to self-isolate for ten weeks without being allowed to see any other human beings outside their households.
They’ve been brilliant so far, and the mood is good to be allowed to do our job again; to do what we love. Each day, the trust and sense of unity is growing more and more.
canaries.co.uk: How different is it going to be to prepare to play against teams? The form guide is likely not as relevant anymore, considering teams last played almost three months ago!
DF: It’s tricky, because we don’t know how other teams have worked during lockdown, if they’ve changed their processes or the way they play.
They’re still the same coaches and the same players, so you can’t change the quality of them – it’s not like they’re completely new, but, like at the beginning of the season, it can be difficult to prepare for how the opponents will play.
That’s the same for all teams, so no complaints.
canaries.co.uk: Having watched some German football over the last few weeks, what will it be like to play in an empty stadium? The club are trying to find ways to involve fans on matchday, but of course they can’t physically be in the ground.
DF: It’s definitely still a strange situation and completely different to a normal game. We all play football for our supporters. Now, to have to play behind closed doors and not be allowed to play our last five home games in front of our amazing supporters, it feels strange.
That’s the situation we all have to cope with. It reminds me of how we started – at youth level when there were not so many supporters or just some parents around.
We have to keep in mind that, while we’ll be playing in an empty stadium, all of our supporters will follow what we are doing quite closely and they are with us.
Although they’re not allowed to attend in a personal way, it’s important that in our minds and our hearts, we take their support into Carrow Road as well as our away games. They will try to send us their energy so it’s important to take that into the games.
canaries.co.uk: Last week it was three years since you joined Norwich City. What are your favourite moments and personal highlights over that time?
DF: Time is running, definitely! It’s crazy. Three years is a long time and I’m unbelievably grateful and thankful that I’m allowed to work in this role for this amazing club and for these amazing people.
Thank-you to our owners Delia and Michael, to our board, and also to our supporters for all this trust during all the ups and downs.
It was a tricky situation when I joined because the financial situation was so difficult. We had to sell, more or less on a weekly basis, our best players. We had to deal with demanding situations and try to re-build and improve the club step-by-step.
You look back at how far we have come and there are great moments and great memories, but I’m not willing to just be in an analysing mode. We’re still in a fighting mode in order to make sure that hopefully we will play in the best league in the world next season.
We want to be as successful as possible in the FA Cup. The dream would be that we’re allowed to play in the best league in the world next season and also in Europe by winning the FA Cup!
They’re big challenges and perhaps not realistic targets for us, but definitely targets we can achieve. In a few years’ time, when I’m no longer in charge, then there will be the chance to look back and enjoy the memories, but right now we are greedy to create some more memories.