Queens Park Rangers v Leeds United: Daniel Farke's sore point is motivation for crucial Championship game

Queens Park Rangers v Leeds UnitedThere was a sore point in what Leeds United hope will be their penultimate pre-match press conference of the season and it was not Patrick Bamford's bruised knee.

And therein lay his complaint.

Grumbles about the schedule are common these days, with the television companies making increasingly unfair demands of players and moreso fans, and clubs conveniently ignoring that if you accept huge amounts of cash from them, they are going to want to call the tune.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Most have hard-luck stories to tell but as the Championship's star attraction, Leeds have more than most. It makes rude songs about Sky Sports a regular soundtrack to most of their games.

Farke is unhappy his team play twice away from home this working week, at Middlesbrough on Monday and QPR on Friday, for their benefit.

Moaning about it can be self-defeating. Ignore it and the problem will never be confronted, but tell people they are tired, and eventually they will start to believe you.

Usually Farke has little sympathy for the idea of footballers being unhappy at being asked to play football so the way he brought up the topic was out of character.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
"Major doubt": Leeds United striker Patrick Bamford"Major doubt": Leeds United striker Patrick Bamford
"Major doubt": Leeds United striker Patrick Bamford

"I have to say we're not blessed if I'm really honest," argued Farke when asked if playing before Ipswich Town (and Leicester City) could work help this weekend.

"It's hard to understand.

"We have lots of load – it's the same for Ipswich playing three games in seven days after two weeks without a game. It's difficult.

"This was more or less due to Coventry's (FA) Cup run. We took the decision when we had our Cup run that we would play against Norwich in the middle of a week when we had a big load. We accepted we would have more of a load than all our competitors at this time to have at least three normal weeks at the end of the season.

HOW? Leeds United manager Daniel Farke is not happy with his team's scheduleHOW? Leeds United manager Daniel Farke is not happy with his team's schedule
HOW? Leeds United manager Daniel Farke is not happy with his team's schedule

"But what happens at the end of the season? We have more or less 10 days off – not a normal set-up – and they postponed our game (at Middlesbrough) until Monday. All of a sudden we have two away games within four days. No one can explain why to me.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"There were no Monday kick-offs in the whole season (six other late-evening games so far with Leicester's at Preston North End to come), we normally play on Friday evening (25 of them) so we were fully expecting if the Middlesbrough game would be picked by TV we'd play on Friday evening and perhaps also on Friday against QPR.

"Why was it postponed on Monday so we have two away games in four days? It affects the availability of some players, the quick turnaround, in terms of recovery.

"Why it was picked in this way for more or less the first time on the 44th and 45th matchday is hard to explain but I've learnt to adapt to reality.

BUSY DIARY: Willy Gnonto battles for possession with Middlesbrough's Matthew Clarke on MondayBUSY DIARY: Willy Gnonto battles for possession with Middlesbrough's Matthew Clarke on Monday
BUSY DIARY: Willy Gnonto battles for possession with Middlesbrough's Matthew Clarke on Monday

"We can play with full energy because we've done the right thing in between games. We'll adapt to the situation and not use it as an excuse but you definitely can't speak about it as an advantage.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"This season the fixtures have been at least hard to explain if I put it in gentle words."

But good managers can turn every negative into a positive, and perhaps Farke saw his chance. It is the sort of "us against the world" moment they have thrived on since the days of Don Revie's often unloved winners.

“This is what this club is all about – we never do it the easy way,” said Farke. “We have to make sure we earn what we want to achieve.

"We have to (use it as motivation) because we can't influence it. We can complain about it and feel sorry for ourselves but it won't help us.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"It's important that behind the scenes we speak with the key people about these topics because the sense should be of fair play in terms of everyone having the same chances. We want more or less the best players available for all matches.

"It doesn't make sense to have a break between gameday 43 and 44 of 10 or 12 days, and for Ipswich two weeks, then have to play a lot of games in a short period.

"We want to have all the best players available to entertain the supporters so we have to ask some questions but it makes no sense to complain, feel sorry or use it in advance or after the game as an excuse. We have to adapt to the situation.

"We have to try to win some extra motivation out of it."

Bamford's knee apart, Leeds have a clean bill of health from Monday's game, and are working "more or less 24 hours" a day to get Dan James fit for the final match of the regular season, at home to Southampton a week on Sunday.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

If Leeds can win their last two matches, Ipswich need to win their final three – starting with Saturday's trip to Hull City – to condemn them to the play-offs. Victory for Leicester at Preston will secure them the title.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.