Daniel Farke's Norwich City career a reassurance about slow starts and a warning to Willy Gnonto

When Leeds United manager Daniel Farke recently said Willy Gnonto "knows there is no third chance" there would have been plenty of nods of recognition in Norfolk.

The Whites' start to the season – slow and steady amidst a mutiny from want-away players – looks very familiar to those who followed the German's fortunes at Norwich City.

Connor Southwell, chief Norwich City reporter for the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News can assure Gnonto the talk of no third chances is not an idle threat.

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Gnonto is onto his second after he and Luis Sinisterra made themselves unavailable for Leeds in August to try to force through transfers. Sinisterra eventually succeeded, loaned to Bournemouth after behaviour chief executive Angus Kinnear said had not put the winger "on our Christmas card list".

But Farke won the battle with Italy international Gnonto, who apologised before being reintegrated to the group. Err again and he will be out of the door.

Farke has been here before, banishing Emi Buendia and Todd Cantwell in August 2021.

"There was a game against Bournemouth where Cantwell and Buendia were left out pretty brutally because there was speculation going on," recalls Southwell. "Norwich lost, and Daniel was pretty much on the front foot, very direct and clear.

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"He managed to get them back into the team. Buendia in particular but Cantwell as well, who improved as the season went on, basically got Norwich promoted through their performances and what they added to the attacking play. Norwich went up, Emi Buendia moved to Aston Villa and Cantwell stayed.

CHAMPIONSHIP PEDIGREE: Daniel Farke twice led Norwich City to the second-tier titleCHAMPIONSHIP PEDIGREE: Daniel Farke twice led Norwich City to the second-tier title
CHAMPIONSHIP PEDIGREE: Daniel Farke twice led Norwich City to the second-tier title

"That summer an unknown issue led to Cantwell starting the first five games of the season then being put in the under-21s and Daniel was pretty unequivocal that was it, the final straw. There was no injury issue we were aware of but he didn't play again until Daniel left.

"Daniel does have a track record for giving a second chance but if you burn those bridges twice, there really is no way back.

"Emi Buendia said subsequently the agreement was get us promoted and if somebody meets our valuation, you can go. It was inevitable really, he was so good that season.

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"For Cantwell, prior to Rangers (who he joined in January), Norwich had never even got an offer for him. I know there was lots of speculation around lots of big clubs, it never really materialised. He probably felt he wanted that next step but Norwich couldn't sell him because there was no one to sell him to."

BACK IN THE FOLD: Leeds United's Willy GnontoBACK IN THE FOLD: Leeds United's Willy Gnonto
BACK IN THE FOLD: Leeds United's Willy Gnonto

Farke's stance with Gnonto won him a lot of respect on the Elland Road terraces, and the same was true at Norwich, says Southwell.

"When you have a manager that does that, particularly when players are trying to go, people tend to side with the manager,” he argues.

"He wasn't prepared to walk on eggshells and keep stuff private, he wanted to let supporters know.

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"It probably made the situation better because he got back two players who were so determined to achieve something because they knew it could benefit them personally. Buendia went from someone who looked like he was going to leave the club to comfortably the best player in the Championship that season.

REBELLION QUASHED: Emiliano Buendia and Todd Cantwell at Norwich CityREBELLION QUASHED: Emiliano Buendia and Todd Cantwell at Norwich City
REBELLION QUASHED: Emiliano Buendia and Todd Cantwell at Norwich City

"Even prior to that he inherited a dressing room with Russell Martin in it, Cameron Jerome and players with a lot of big personalities but he was never afraid to not play someone if they didn't fit into what he was doing or didn't agree with it.

"Pretty early on he left Josh Martin (now on loan at Barnsley) out of a matchday squad because of his attitude and how he'd maybe not done what he wanted in training.

"You tended to find when there were these clashes between players and manager there was only one winner, and that was Daniel.

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"Some of the things I've seen with regards to Gnonto and other players haven't come as a massive surprise."

For anyone fretting that Leeds have only one Championship win in the first part of the season, there are reassuring messages from the past there too.

"Both title-winning seasons were pretty slow starts," says Southwell. "In 2020-21 when they romped the season in the end they only won one of their first four and two of those were defeats – 1-0 to Bournemouth, then Derby the week later. They started 18-19 even slower – one win in six including a 1-1 draw with Ipswich which if they'd lost it I think he probably would have been sacked.

"I think that's just players adapting to what he wants. He so idealistic and driven, I think it can take players a period of time to fully grasp what he wants. But when it does click it has the ability at this level to be pretty relentless and difficult to stop, especially when you have a lot of players who are very good at the level.

"He's the best person for this situation.

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"It would be no shock to me if Leeds were challenging towards the top of the table pretty quickly."

* The October 25 Championship game at Stoke City will now kick off at 8pm for live Sky Sports coverage.