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Interviews

Daniel Farke: My blood is yellow and Norfolk is my second home

21 July 2021

Norwich City head coach Daniel Farke signed a four-year contract extension with the club on Wednesday.

After putting pen to paper on the new deal, the boss sat down with canaries.co.uk to discuss his time in Norfolk so far and his anticipation of the years to come.

canaries.co.uk: Boss, congratulations on signing a new contract here at Norwich City. Just talk us through your feelings about extending your stay here.

DF: Yes, I’m absolutely over the moon and feel pretty emotional in such a moment. I’m unbelievably grateful for all the trust, all the support and all the help. 

More or less from the first day I walked in, I’ve felt really at home. I’ve got a home in Germany but it definitely feels here like my second home in Norfolk. 

On such a day, I can just be grateful for all the help and trust that I’ve been given from our owners Delia and Michael. I can’t ask for better owners and fantastic human beings. It’s a pleasure to be allowed to work with them and for them and to lead this club in this responsible role. 

Of course, a big thank-you also to the board and to Stuart Webber - it’s a pleasure to work with him - to all my staff and, last but not least, to all the supporters because, and I don’t take this as given, from the first day I really felt so much positivity and desire that this project would be successful. 

In these moments, you feel also a bit small and quite humble and thoughtful. I’m unbelievably grateful.

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canaries.co.uk: You touched on some of the reasons there but can you just tell us a bit more about some of the factors that made you want to decide to stay here for a few more years?

DF: Yes, the main reasons are the first four years if I’m honest. My blood is already pretty much yellow and it feels already like my second home. I also got the feeling the project is not done. 

Once I walked in through the door four years ago the first topic was to keep this club going because we were under unbelievable financial pressure and we needed to create values and that’s what we wanted to do. 

We tried to develop special values for everyone to stand for, a special playing philosophy and to develop our young lads with our academy. We needed to bring some money in because the club was financially in a really difficult position. 

On the first day, our target was to make sure that this club is an established club in the top 26 teams in this country. That means we want to play either in the best league in the world - the Premier League - or to always finish in the top six on Championship level to give us the chance, if we’re not playing in the Premier League, to be promoted into it. 

It’s not easy to achieve this consistency as a self-funding club and a special club that doesn’t have the financial opportunities like some bigger names in terms of clubs, but in the last four years we’ve shown this consistency.

We won the Championship title, spent a season on Premier League level, won again the Championship title and right now we head into the fourth season where we are in the top 26 and it’s a great achievement.

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We showed this consistency and right now it’s about going the next step, at least that’s my big desire, to make sure this club becomes an established Premier League side where it is possible not to just stay for one year or with a bit of luck two years. 

No, that it’s possible to stay for a few years in a row and hopefully never to be relegated back, but there is always this danger for a self-funding club, and if this happens perhaps in a few years time when there is unbelievably bad luck in terms of injuries and you go back but you are that established that you go straight up again. 

To have this consistency and this feeling that we are an established Premier League club is the next step. Once I want something I can be unbelievably stubborn and work more or less each and every minute of the day to achieve this. 

I know it’s unbelievably difficult because we failed a little bit in the past decades to create this consistency and it’s never easy but I want to help this club to go the next step and for that the project was not done and I got the feeling there is still more I can give to the club and this is my big desire.

canaries.co.uk: How important was it to you to have your backroom staff extending their stays at the club as well?

DF: I’m nothing without them. It’s not possible to work without them because there’s so much trust, help and quality in their work and I need them. They’re all specialists in their different areas. 

Okay, it’s me who has to put the picture together but without my backroom staff I’m nothing and for that I’m unbelievably grateful that I have so many fantastic people who are with me on this way, who help me and support me. Without them, I’m nothing.

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canaries.co.uk: In terms of the development of the club off of the pitch as well as the team on the pitch in the past four years, how do you feel about that?

DF: Yes, it’s also a moment when you feel humble because once I look back at how our situation as a club was and right now where we are, we’re standing for a special brand of football, we have our values, we have developed so much in our academy, when I think about the infrastructure, how Colney looked four years ago and what we are doing right now. 

Also, the progress in the stadium, the financial solidity and our reputation, it’s great. I’m humble and grateful that I can play a little role in this project together with fantastic people, with our sporting director, our board, our owners and all the helpful hands. 

For me, it’s a moment when we can be unbelievably proud, not so much about our individual work, but more like what we have achieved altogether. This is a club full of togetherness, full of emotions, full of unity and we have achieved this altogether and it’s a moment to be proud. 

It’s important also to enjoy these moments at times and to value what you’ve come through, not just thinking about the next step. Once you can’t feel the joy of what you’ve achieved, at one point in the future you’ll ask yourself ‘why am I doing all this?’ 

So I think it’s important sometimes to be proud and to celebrate a little bit of what we have achieved, but then after the celebration to keep going because we always want to go further on and take the next step.

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canaries.co.uk: Like you say, keep going, and there are many more challenges to come. What are your hopes and expectations going into the Premier League this season?

DF: First of all, we are fully aware how difficult it is. It’s the best league in the world with some great clubs, the best coaches in the world and the best crowds in the world and the toughest competition that you can find, but we haven’t won our place in the lottery. We have fully deserved to play on this level and for that we want to be competitive. 

We were always open and transparent. Two years ago, we spoke about how we needed a little miracle because it was a great achievement and an important season in terms of the development of the club and it helped us to play two years ago on Premier League level to achieve this financial solidity. 

We could make quicker steps with the infrastructure, also with the squad to improve. Sadly, the outcome was relegation but we were always honest that we needed a little miracle and, let’s be honest, we were not really prepared in the situation as a club at this moment or as a group of players. 

We had exactly one outfield player with Premier League experience before the season started and for that right now I’ve got the feeling we’re in a much better position as a club, we’re in a much better position as a group of players and we’re back for good. We want to stay. This is the target and right now we don’t need a miracle, we just need a bit of luck in terms of injuries as well as unbelievably hard work. 

We’re fully aware of the size of the challenge because we’re the only self-funding club and it’s still not possible for us to spend money like all the others do, even some of our competitors after promotion. 

For example, when I think about Watford, they’ve played many years in a row before they were relegated on Premier League level so, not being jealous, but their financial situation is a different one so hopefully we are also one day in such a situation that we can spend that much money. 

It will still be difficult for us and a great challenge but, nevertheless, we all got the feeling right now that we are much more prepared than two years ago and we are back to stay.

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canaries.co.uk: Do you feel that those experiences from two years ago could perhaps be beneficial this time around?

DF: Experience always helps. Each and every person, player, manager, head coach, sporting director and club has to have this will to improve and develop every day. 

Once you have the feeling that ‘I know everything about football, I know how to lead a football club in a successful way, we’re a club who is established and don’t have to develop anymore,’ this is the moment when you’re not good enough anymore for the top level, you become a dinosaur and pretty quick you’re away. 

You have to be open for experiences, for development and hopefully we have developed a lot over the last year so I wouldn’t talk too much about lessons learned because we knew two years ago that in order to be competitive we would need to sign more individual quality and we would need more experience but it was simply not possible in our situation two years ago.

Right now, we are much further on but it’s still not a guarantee that we’ll win the Premier League title or play in Europe, or even achieve the main target which is to stay in this league, which will still be a challenge, but we’ve got the feeling that we all are much more prepared and the club is in a much better position.

canaries.co.uk: There’s lots of positive momentum from last season, the signings made in the summer and how pre-season is going at the moment. Do you think those things can play a part at the start of next season?

DF: They have to play a part. All the details have to be perfect. We can’t afford as a club like some other clubs to waste millions of pounds on players or into a project that has no benefit. 

Of course, you can’t always be right and we’re careful in what we’re doing because money is a limited resource for us and for that all the details have to come together. 

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We’re on the back of the best season in the history of Norwich City Football Club. It wasn’t that often that we were able to lift some silverware, even on Championship level, but also in terms of points - 97 - this club has never achieved that before, even in the lower tiers. 

We’re in a good position but 97 points won’t help us next season so we need to work unbelievably hard, we have to make sure that we adapt to the quality of the competition and we have to work hard with our new signings. 

The job is not done so we still have lots of work to do in the final part of pre-season and in terms of working on the squad. We still need some more options and if we’re really successful we can judge this when the transfer window is over at the end of August. 

We want to be as far as possible once the season starts and want to be in a good shape. Then, at the end of August, to be in a position with our squad, not to cut the league into pieces, but to attack every game, be competitive and fight for points.

canaries.co.uk: Lastly, you’ve got a great bond with the supporters here at this club. How exciting is it to take them on the next step of the journey with you?

DF: This moment is a feeling of being grateful, thankful and humble because I spoke about my backroom staff but it’s the same with the supporters - without them I’m nothing. We play football for the supporters. 

It’s not for the sporting directors, the head coach, the players, or even the owners or the board. You play football for supporters and that’s why we all love this game this much. 

Football is the best sport in the world because we play for our supporters and once I get the feeling they don’t want to see our brand of football, our principles or our values anymore and want to see proper long-balls, 4-4-2, that’s the moment I have to quit. 

So I need their backing and their trust and I’m grateful that I’m allowed to work in such a privileged and responsible role and that I have the backing and the unity with our supporters. It’s really a great honour and I can’t express how much I’m really thankful and grateful for that.

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