Farke’s take on set piece struggles may surprise City fans
Appearances might be deceptive for those busy trying to decipher Daniel Farke’s Premier League work at Norwich City ahead of Sheffield United’s Carrow Road visit.
Not in doubt is his desire to trust younger players or front foot attacking football filtered through technically gifted midfielders.
To label Farke a purist in that context might be seen as a tribute - although it overlooks his pragmatic approach. Yet those accusing him of a slavish adherence to zonal marking at set-pieces - following those latest concessions at Southampton - should be under no illusions the same pragmatism exists.
"I am not so addicted that I have a special philosophy in this area or I am addicted to one way over the other. I am quite old fashioned. I just want us to defend a set-piece," he said. "Both systems have advantages or disadvantages.
"All I know is when you play with guys like Onel (Hernandez) or Tom Trybull or Todd Cantwell or Max Aarons it is fair to say that in certain situations they will not be as competitive defending set-pieces. It was the volume of set-pieces (at Southampton).
"If you concede as many as we did in that first half then you might be able to defend 12 or 13 properly but there will be one or two when the opponent wins the header."
Southampton's opening goal in midweek from James Ward-Prowse's delivery crashed home by Danny Ings underlined his point.
"We had a two against one against Ings and not only that but two of our best headers of the ball. We should be able to win this situation," said Farke. "There was a great delivery from Ward Prowse and excellent movement from Ings.
"We don't have nine or 10 tall players in the team. If I am honest if that was how we had put this team together we might look to go a different way defending set-pieces.
"But if you have two or three really strong headers you want them in the most dangerous area, that is why we line up with Christoph (Zimmermann), Ben (Godfrey) and Kenny (McLean) in that part of the box, but even they can lose a header or two. Then it looks like a big issue."
Headers proved a recurring theme on the south coast, with Farke critical of the sporadic service to Teemu Pukki before a second-half response.
"Teemu is a top-class striker but he is not the best when he gets the ball at his chest or head, the same with Onel, Emi (Buendia), Patrick Roberts and Todd," he said. "That is why it is important to have a good positional structure to bypass the press.
"Even if the pressing is intense we still have to be aggressive and not reacting to them. All teams try to press us. Manchester City did the same. Yet we were able to cause them problems by a good structure and being brave.
"Then a side might have one set piece in 20 minutes, not 15 a game. Even the best headers in the league would struggle to deal with so many."
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