Profile: Passionate and humble new Norwich City boss Daniel Farke might not be such a gamble for the Canaries
PUBLISHED: 11:41 25 May 2017 | UPDATED: 13:12 25 May 2017
As the search for Norwich City's new head coach comes to a conclusion David Freezer takes a look at the man taking on the Canaries challenge - former Borussia Dortmund U23s' boss Daniel Farke
The name Daniel Farke may have provided a rather large spike for internet search engines in Norfolk over the past few days, as Norwich City closed on their new head coach.
This is not new ground for Canaries fans though. The last man to be handed control of the City first team, Alex Neil, prompted similarly vague responses when he was on the verge of moving to Carrow Road.
Back in January 2015 the young Scot was a complete unknown to the majority of Norwich supporters, despite his success with Hamilton Academical. This time Farke has prompted even deeper searches for facts though.
The 41-year-old former coach of Borussia Dortmund Under-23s not only has the language barrier as a shield but the North Sea and a lack of profile in his homeland, creating a great deal of intrigue in what he could bring to England.
All of which points to something of a gamble on the part of City’s new sporting director Stuart Webber.
Neil’s appointment paid off for former chief executive David McNally though, at least initially with that glorious Wembley promotion party exactly two years ago today, and Webber has form.
The 33-year-old is looking to repeat the trick which brought him to the attention of the Canaries’ hierarchy – having previously appointed Dortmund’s U23s coach and been spot on with his appointment.
He may have been tempted away from Huddersfield by the greater resources and size of club on offer at City but the head coach he took a gamble on, David Wagner, is on the verge of leading the Terriers to the Premier League.
If the German can lead his team to victory over Reading in Monday’s play-off final at Wembley it would be little short of miraculous for a club which hasn’t played in the top flight for 45 years and which finished 19th in the Championship last season.
So it’s easy to see why Webber would keep faith with the method which revolutionised his former employers in Yorkshire – but why is Farke the man he’s opted to appoint?
The highly-rated German – who becomes the first foreign coach in City’s history – appears to have the same pedigree as Wagner, the man he replaced as Dortmund’s U23 coach in November 2015.
Farke made quite an impact, turning a team tipped for relegation into promotion challengers, leading his squad to fourth place in the West Region League last season and to second in Germany’s fourth tier during the current campaign.
The young Black and Yellows lost just three games and missed out on the title to Viktoria Köln by nine points but comfortably had the best defence in the league, conceding just 25 goals in 34 games.
His team weren’t quite as lethal in front of goal, with six teams managing more than their total of 54, although Norwich fans are well aware that scoring goals wasn’t a problem this season after City finished joint top scorers in the Championship.
That success meant Bundesliga giants Dortmund wanted to retain Farke’s services but weeks of contract talks broke down and, as Dortmund daily newspaper Ruhr Nachrichten put it: “Daniel Farke is too good for the Regional League West.”
Farke started his football journey at his home club SV Steinhausen and has never coached or even played in Germany’s top division.
His most notable season as a player was in 2002-03 when he scored 28 goals for SV Lippstadt 08, where he had spent the majority of his career and is something of a legend.
The former striker later became a coach and sporting director, where he studied for his Uefa Pro Licence, but the pull of stepping up to manage Dortmund’s best youngsters was too hard to resist.
Would he be able to adjust to the rough and tumble intensity of the Championship as effectively as Wagner has though?
He summed up his style of football in a Ruhr Nachrichten interview, saying: “Energetic, bold and attacking. We want to have as much of the ball as possible and dominate. The football should reflect Borussia Dortmund and the region, that means never lying down... being down to earth and being passionate.”
Many Canaries fans felt Huddersfield were the best team seen at Carrow Road this season and those values would seem to tally with the high-pressing ‘Gegenpressen’ style shown by both Wagner’s team and by Liverpool under former Dortmund boss Jurgen Klopp.
If he can bring some of the passion, innovation and character that those two have brought across from Germany, then maybe Webber isn’t taking such a big gamble after all.