Daniel Farke on 'desperately greedy' Leeds United and key lesson from madcap win over Middlesbrough
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The game’s opening seven minutes brought three goals and before the afternoon was out there had been a penalty, a rash of yellow cards and a red, for Boro’s Anfernee Dijksteel. Although the visitors found themselves a man down with just under half an hour remaining, all of the scoring was completed prior to the break, despite a glut of chances for Leeds and a couple of close calls at the other end.
Farke knew it would be a difficult test for his side and because of the quality of the opposition, he had no time for suggestions that they could have made life easier for themselves. “I expected a tough game for us and couldn't be happier and prouder of my boys today,” he said. “A third game in eight days against a very good side, Middlesbrough, I judge them as one of the main competitors for the top six positions. It was important today to be brave, to press with intensity and perhaps even be a bit over emotional. It's always important you're fully committed off the ball. We created so many good situations and moments.”
The German insisted that even the manner in which Leeds cancelled out Emmanuel Latte Lath’s second minute opener and then went in front themselves was evidence of how badly his side wanted the win. Both Daniel James and Crysencio Summerville, relatively diminutive figures, got on the end of crosses to head past Seny Dieng in the Boro net. Farke said: "The goals were a sign of our will and how desperately greedy we were today. Daniel James fully committed to win this [aerial] duel. The second goal more or less the same, Cree not known as the best header in this league but fully committed. It was top class in the first half.”
Farke’s only concern in the first half was the way Leeds seemed to bend to the excitement in the stadium, forcing passes and expending unnecessary energy, which he felt then had a knock-on effect in their own box. “The only problem was we were a little over-ridden with emotion in possession and when you give so many moments away and it's transition, transition, transition against a side who punish little mistakes, and when you can't calm the game down then you can't have the energy to defending in detail in your own box,” he said.
"It was a wild game in the first half and probably every football fan must have enjoyed this game. I loved what we did but as a manager I liked the second half when we calmed everything down and didn't play with any mistakes – we missed a bit to bury the game, we had just one mistake when we gave a counter attack, but we were able to play it out with a monster block from Joe Rodon. This was the only situation I was a bit unhappy with. For me a priceless three points against a very good opponent.”
Farke had mixed emotions as he went down the tunnel at the break, having enjoyed his side’s creative endeavour but not the peril they faced as a result. “It was also important to discipline myself because the fire is still burning, I'm not dead,” he said. “We played with too many transition moments but this is a side of my team I love, when we're a bit more over-excited instead of playing football like sleeping pills. On the other hand it was also important to calm them a bit down, that our game management would be a bit better. In the end a hard fought but definitely a deserved win.”
The victory was third-placed Leeds’ seventh on the bounce at Elland Road and they have now opened up a 10-point lead over Blackburn Rovers, just outside the Championship play-off positions. Farke’s Whites can still be described as a new team and a young one, too, and his hope is that they continue to pick up valuable experience to improve while still winning games.
“Hopefully we get better game by game and even out of this first half we learn a lot, learn what is necessary on order to play on the front foot because there were many positive things,” he said. “Also in terms of game management, especially for a young side when you are 3-1 in lead, the stadium is buzzing and everyone wants you to go forward in each and every moment. Then not to lose the nerves and still to stay tidy in your passing and your passing choices are not always the most risky ones. It’s definitely something we can and have to learn and have to improve but as long as we win games like we do at the moment we’re still on a good path.”