Leeds United v Cardiff City: Fighting talk and defiance from Daniel Farke suggests he understands the Leeds psyche already

DANIEL FARKE may only be at the start of what he hopes will be a long and successful journey with Leeds United, but he has already learned one key thing which should stand him in good stead.

With Leeds, the maxim of 'us against the world' always forms a big part of the narrative.

Elland Road is a place where the supporters' defiance towards those who choose to knock one of England's bonafide big football clubs is worn as a badge of honour.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

And when there is adversity and strife – as there is currently – you close ranks and dig deep and come out fighting. Keep fighting. Never give up.

Daniel Farke. Picture: GettyDaniel Farke. Picture: Getty
Daniel Farke. Picture: Getty

In the here and now, it specifically applies to those players who remain at the club following a pretty desperate relegation. There is considerable focus on what Leeds have lost and may be about to lose before the summer window closes. Farke turns it around and prefers to focus on what he has got.

Just 16 first-team players trained on Friday before Sunday's opener against Cardiff City, but the German liked what he saw. Less is more sometimes. And he isn’t bemoaning his lot.

At the end of last season, club captain Liam Cooper relaid a message to wantaway players immediately after United's relegation in no uncertain terms. The polite version stated: 'if you don't want to be here, then on your bike.'

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He recently reiterated that fact in an interview. Leeds might not have certain things at the minute, but, by and large, they have players who want to be there. It's a precursor to any sort of fightback. Possessing players who care.

Farke, preparing for his first league game in charge at Elland Road, said: "One thing is for sure, as long as we find 11 guys who wear this white shirt, we are competitive in each and every game and that's what we will do.

“I knew the situation after relegation would be difficult, but in a positive way, I am surprised with the reaction of my lads.

“After relegation, I have been in this position before and normally, at a club, there is a bit of a hangover and you are used to losing games and there are many outgoings and some question marks and doubts.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“But I have to say how much the lads have stuck together and it is quite impressive for me. The group at the moment on the training pitch is not overly big, we trained with 16 (on Friday) and it's not perfect when you want to be ambitious.

"But as long as these 16 players are tight together and work unbelievably hard, you always have a chance. We have a chance of some of the injured players coming back hopefully soon and are working on a few new signings.”

For the first weeks of the season, it promises not to be straightforward, with the future of certain players being uncertain and some injury issues having arrived at an untimely juncture.

The art of being successful over time in the Championship is finding a way and not feeling sorry for yourselves. Farke knows that through experience at Norwich City.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Farke, who has been up front and honest about Leeds’s situation with supporters from day one, continued: “I think our situation will just improve and the last two friendlies were quite impressive and I am pleased with this.

“For me, the important topic is to have a unity and togetherness. My feeling from the outside with this club – and especially the supporters – is that they are always tied together and they are there when the club needs them the most.

“In difficult and tough times – and let's be honest after relegation, it is a tough time at the moment – I always have the feeling that the club have the backing of the supporters even more than other times.

"We need the supporters, especially in the next three or four weeks and I think it's our biggest value.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Farke’s cv, which contains two promotions from this level with Norwich City, suggests he knows what he is doing.

Both were contrasting. What he does know about the Championship is that fight and possessing the right characters is just as important as ability. He has looked into the whites of his players’ eyes and seen what he wants to see.

Despite pre-season not being easy, he is in ‘a good mood’ as he puts it.

He continued: "It is always good that you know what is necessary to be successful. I have had this in different positions.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"The first time we (Norwich) were promoted, it was a bunch of young lads and unknown players and we were able to win the league with 94 points.

"In the second season after relegation – and being the favourite more or less in each game against opponents - it was the game of the season v Norwich and you preferred the expectations.

"It is joy to work with these lads and I like the potential of the club. My gut feeling is that are smart and have the right thoughts about this club.”

As for talk about any notions of pressure going into a season which looks problematic, the 46-year-old has a quick-fire and intelligent answer.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"If you crack under pressure, you shouldn't work in this job. At least not at Leeds United, that's definitely for sure,” he added.

“You need to show some steel and the most important topic is not to be like a flag in the wind.

"There are moments when you will struggle and there are different sorts (of strugglers) because it is a massive club and there are always many emotions and different ideas.

"It is important to be open-minded and flexible in what you do, but also the important topic is not to be like a flag in the wind. You must stand there in the tough days.”