Daniel Farke makes first Leeds United request with relegation admission but Whites feeling clear

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There were several contenders to dampen Daniel Farke’s mood at his first Leeds United pre-match press conference. Dampen quite literally.

As part of a summer where it has rained just about every day, it chucked it down, obviously, although not until the new Whites manager’s pre-Cardiff City press conference was finishing. By then, the 46-year-old German had told those present that he would have not one, not two but three strikers missing for Sunday’s first game of the new campaign.

All this as the dual Championship-winning boss had to face more questions about further players possibly leaving. Hell, there was so much to cover that nobody even got to the subject of Saudi side Al-Qadsiah reportedly wanting to sign his captain Liam Cooper.

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Yet there was a definite spring in the step of United’s new manager who immediately declared his excitement for Sunday’s curtain-raiser and being the man charged with steering Leeds United’s quest to bounce back from last season’s relegation with Championship promotion this term.

EXCITED: New Leeds United manager Daniel Farke ahead of Sunday's Championship opener against Cardiff City at Elland Road despite obvious Whites issues, injuries and generally the 'hangover' from relegation. Photo by Tim Goode/PA Wire.EXCITED: New Leeds United manager Daniel Farke ahead of Sunday's Championship opener against Cardiff City at Elland Road despite obvious Whites issues, injuries and generally the 'hangover' from relegation. Photo by Tim Goode/PA Wire.
EXCITED: New Leeds United manager Daniel Farke ahead of Sunday's Championship opener against Cardiff City at Elland Road despite obvious Whites issues, injuries and generally the 'hangover' from relegation. Photo by Tim Goode/PA Wire.

It was hard to know exactly what to expect from ex-Norwich City boss Farke’s first proper pre-match press conference at Thorp Arch on Friday. But it was easy enough to have a reasonable idea. It has been apparent for some time that the German is polite, approachable and well spoken with superb English and ultimately a damn good coach. Two promotions in superb style as Championship champions with Norwich tells you that much.

Now the task is to try and bag a third and there are no shortage of obstacles in Leeds United’s way, starting with the very real prospect of having nine players out injured for Sunday’s opening game as part of a summer where six first team players have exited the scene on loan in addition to last season’s top scorer Rodrigo being sold.

Honest as ever, Farke readily admitted that he could not rule out further departures before the transfer window slammed shut at 11pm on Friday, September 1. Yet the overriding message from Farke was that his club were looking to strengthen not weaken as the German declared his pride at being the club’s new manager and enthusiasm for leading the promotion drive.

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Asked first and foremost how excited he was about Sunday’s opener and the challenge ahead, Farke beamed: “Well, obviously I'm looking forward to this game. The first game of season is always exciting and the first game at Elland Road, even more special.

"I was a few times at Elland Road and I know that atmosphere is always great and outstanding, especially the first game after the summer break. We're all looking forward to have this first competitive game. We’ve had a proper pre-season so far, but right now the real stuff begins and we’re all looking forward to it.”

Ah, but then came the injuries updates, and a lot of them, so many that they had to be covered by three separate questions. In a nutshell, neither Patrick Bamford or Georginio Rutter will make Sunday’s clash against the Bluebirds, or the midweek Carabao Cup tie against Shrewsbury Town for that matter.

Oh, and arguably the third ‘no 9’ option at present in Mateo Joseph is also injured revealed Farke who explained that 19-year-old Joseph had rolled his ankle in training. Then came the confession that he could not rule out further exits but not before outlining a clear need to strengthen his squad and not weaken it.

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"I'm always realistic and we all know that we would need to strengthen the squad more or less in all areas,” said the Whites boss, for whom Tyler Adams, Jack Harrison, Junior Firpo, Sam Greenwood and Stuart Dallas also all remain out injured, with Cody Drameh also sidelined recently with a hamstring issue.

Farke added: “So thank God we brought Karl Darlow in. Right now in the goalkeeper position I think we are really strong for this league. But in all areas, we could need some additions, in the centre half position, in the full-back position, physicality in midfield, creativity in midfield, firepower up front. There are many wishes but we also have to stay financially disciplined.”

Plenty to deal with for the double-promotion winner who has regularly admitted this summer that Leeds must first and foremost navigate the natural “hangover” from last season’s relegation. Yet the overriding message was that Farke is raising a glass to being the new man in charge of Leeds and one who is prepared to tackle the challenges that lie in store head on.

Asked if anything had surprised him at Leeds from his first month in charge, Farke reasoned: “Not surprised because I knew what a massive club this is and also the expectations have come along. The situation would of course after relegation be difficult but in a positive way I am surprised with the really good reaction of my lads.

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"Because after relegation, I was in this position before, normally, as a club, you have a hangover, also, as a player, you're used to losing games. Then we have many outgoings and then some question marks and doubts. But I have to say how much the lads have stuck together. This is quite impressive. Impressive for me and they’ve worked unbelievably hard. So what I can say is the group at the moment on the training pitch is not overly big.

“We've just trained was with 16 players today, it's not perfect when you when you want to be ambitious. But as long as 16 players are tight, together and work unbelievably hard, you have always a chance and we have the chance that some of the injured lads will come back hopefully soon.

"We also work on a few new signings so I think our situation where we just improve and also the last two friendlies were quite impressive. I'm pleased with this and, for me, the most important topic is that we as a group have unity and togetherness.”

Making a first Whites request as he hailed the club’s supporters, Farke added: “More or less, I was not allowed to judge it so far because I was never in this chair before. But my feeling also like from the outside world, I always got the feeling that this club, especially all supporters, are always tight together and they are there when the club needs them the most in difficult and tough times.

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"Let's be honest, after relegation it is a tough time at the moment. I always got the feeling the club and the players have the backing off to supporters even more in other times and this is also what I feel at the moment, I feel it when we play all our friendlies.

“There are perhaps a few things to worry about or to be concerned but I feel a lot positivity and I feel positive attitude as long as the lads work for the shirt and defend the shirt and work for the club then everyone is happy and stick together.

"I've got the same feeling at the moment that we need our support. So we need them especially in the next three or four weeks we have a really proper group together to carry us a little bit. I feel this and this is what makes me feel also quite positive because I think it's our biggest value.”