Leeds United v Middlesbrough: Daniel Farke press conference every word, Stuart Dallas, Djed Spence updates
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Leeds returned to winning ways after last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Rotherham United with Wednesday night’s 3-1 victory at home to Swansea City which lifted Farke’s side back up to third place and just eight points behind leaders Leicester City.
Just three days later, the Whites will step out at LS11 again versus a tenth-placed Middlesbrough side who have rocketed into the promotion reckoning with a strong run of results after an initial poor start to the campaign.
Ahead of the game, Whites manager Farke spoke to the press at 1.30pm at Thorp Arch and here is every word from United’s German boss.
Leeds United v Middlesbrough: Daniel Farke press conference every word
Injuries- Firpo and Gelhardt out
"The team news is similar but not equal. Sadly two players are not available, Joffy Gelhardt has a little hip problem. He will not be in contention and also Junior Firpo reported some problems with his hamstring, we've scanned him and it's a strain, he'll be out for three weeks. It's not a major problem for Joffy, it's just a light problem, he'll just miss this game I think.”
On senior figures leadership - Ayling, Cooper and Dallas influence
"Well, first of all, it's important that they are still really really good footballers. So Luke was involved in many, many games at the beginning of the season and scored an important goal. Also Liam was involved in several clean sheets so the first value is always the sport. Sadly, Stuart is still in his rehab from a really long term injury so the main topic is always always the football player himself, but furthermore then they also experienced and they have values. We have got a pretty, pretty young side and so it is always good to have experience around the dressing room and also lads that keep the spirit high, the standards high and have also the personality and also the experience to know that after wins you can't afford to give 2% less in training. No, in the next training session you have to be really focused again and also perhaps after a little setback then not to be too down - we want to show reaction and let's keep going - we move on. So they bring this experience and even more this mentality into it and it's always good to have a good mix because we have a pretty young side especially the starting line-up in last games was pretty young but you need also your your leaders in the dressing room and within the squad and with these lads we've got a really good base."
On experience influencing younger players
"Yes. Of course. First of all, it's always about not so much about the age, it's always about the personality and also how you get along and also to lead by example. This is quite important. Even the younger player can be also a leader and develop into this role but experience always helps everyone in the squad. Everyone is fully aware that players like Liam and like Luke are Leeds legends, they were successful before, they won the league a few years ago and everyone knows how difficult it is to be successful on this level. But these guys have done it and when they talk about different things and give their experience also to the younger lads, it's always beneficial and also crucial. And if you're smart, as a young player you listen, you try to learn. It's quite often also, when I speak about my career as a football player, I learned sometimes even more from my teammates in comparison to the manager. It was a different time but if you have to look at how they behave and at good habits, what experienced and especially successful players are doing in order to be successful, to stay successful in training and the professionalism on the pitch and also sometimes little tactical hints in personal terms, how to react after setback, how to deal with success., this is always quite crucial and I'm a big believer that also the group and the team educate them also themselves. That's also quite important, not just stare at the managers and listen and to be aware what they say, but also be fully aware about what's happening within the group and for that I'm pretty grateful to have these players."
On keeping the squad happy when players aren't playing
"Yes, it's the most difficult part of the job because you're not working just like on a FIFA PlayStation when you just press some buttons and there are no emotions. You don't work with robots, you work with human beings and this is what you always have to keep in mind and also the experience in how you felt yourself as a player. It's sometimes difficult to see and to judge a whole picture. It's more like to just listen to a decision and have a look and this is not an individual and subjective perspective. I know how tough it is. My experience is always openness and honesty and the truth so the players don't want any excuses or something more like to spin around the picture - to be open. to be direct, to be honest, this is the best way. I think it's not possible to keep all players happy, I am working with a group of nearly 30 young people full of energy, full of adrenaline, full of pride that everyone wants to play each and every second. But just XI are allowed to start and quite often just six are allowed to have 90 minutes so it's not possible to keep them all happy but that's part of the game, that's also part of the job and you have to show some leadership and in my experience, always the best way is always don't let your levels and your standards drop - just honesty, transparency to your decisions and direct decisions. This is always always the best way and not searching for any excuses or to wrap it in a nice little message. The best way is always open and direct."
How do you keep people like Cree Summerville in the form that he is in?
"I think most important is what you on the training pitch, obviously you need to be smart in the loads in training for example. But that doesn't mean so that we wrap them in cotton wool. It also means, okay, if you got the feeling sometimes they are there with 2% less in training then no, no, remind them that they keep going. This is quite important. Obviously we talk a lot and speak a lot about things like like winning mentality, what you need to be and to do in order to to successful by the end of the season and for example to lift some silverware because there are many many top players out there with lots of potential but just a few who are they who can watch back after 17 years with a big belly on the sofa and a glass of wine and perhaps a cigar and say 'listen, I made the most out of my career'. Quite often it's more like the thought of I could have done even a bit more and to speak about these things and to give the right messages and to bring the winning mentality and habits. So winning is a habit and you have to bring this mentality into the head, to the hearts and the souls of the players. We speak a lot about also about the soft skills and what is necessary to do and to be each and every day on it and to keep improving because when you think 'okay, right now I'm the superstar' this is the moment when you start losing your game so you have to keep going but the main thing is we just can just bring the players closer to the door and explain this and bring this into the heart and create the setup of performance culture and winning mentality and culture. This is what we're trying to do but the player himself needs to have this fire burning inside that he goes through the door and nowadays, if I'm honest, I am not sure if I would want to swap with the player and the players of nowadays because nowadays there's so much distraction also from the pure football and from the performances. We have got social media and you hear all the praise and all the criticism and everyone is a bit more like an individual person due to our affinity and with the mobile and the digital world so it's quite difficult for the players nowadays, although you could argue 'okay, they lead a privilege life and they earn more money compared to the person to 20 years ago but it is also quite quite difficult to stay on your way and to stick to these values. But I have to say that my gut feeling is we've got such a proper group and so many good lads and they listen and they learn and they go to the right direction but it's also hard work to make sure that this mentality stays each and every day with them but if a player then has consistency and can then look back one day on a nearly perfect season, yes, you can help as a manager and you can support this a little bit. But always all the credit goes to the players and many players now in our squad are at the moment on the right path, but just on the path. We are not over the finishing line. It's not even half-time during during the season and we have to keep going."
Is game management key for young players?
"Yes, I wouldn't label it perhaps the key thing or the main thing but it's definitely one of the things - to be not over excited when you are in the lead and also to don't rush it when we need to score goals - to do it in a smart and calm way and also situations when you have perhaps a difficult time in the game. You have to make sure that you have different parts, so that you control the rhythm and it also comes a bit with experience and sometimes you have the topic that young players rush it sometimes even a bit too much and sometimes they are overdoing things. So game management is key but also sometimes there are periods or moments when you are in lead and everything goes in the right direction, then also it is to make sure that you don't fall asleep and you keep going so it's also the other way round. So the sense of the flowing of the game, like you mentioned, game management, especially for young players is quite an important topic and this is also how they learn from experienced players but this is also key topic where you have to work with with them as a coaching staff, as a manager, to talk about the things. This is quite crucial."
Do you have young leaders here?
"Yes, of course. Like I mentioned, it's more about personality, it's not so much about the about the age but one of our key values is always like to value also experience within our squad. This means when there is a discussion on the pitch between a 32 year old Luke Ayling for example and perhaps a 19 year old guy, Luke Ayling is always right. Even if he is wrong, he is right. That's definitely the rule. We can then discuss about things after the session or after the game, but no discussions then on the pitch. This is one of the one of the key values but this doesn't matter that young players don't have the responsibility and also the allowance to lead. This is quite, quite crucial to a group that play with many, many young players in key roles. It's not about like the old school leadership with body language and talking, it's also quite, quite important but also to lead by example how play, how sharp you are, how focused you are, what you're willing to invest in, if you're willing to repair a mistake of your teammate, this is also definitely leadership and also young players are allowed to talk on the pitch and to motivate and to fire each and everyone up and we have many young players who develop 100 per cent into the right direction to be leaders and be encouraged also in this group and coaching staff because they need to grow into these roles but we have lots of potential also in these terms. In soft skills, not each and every player is made for leadership so some are just also a bit like individuals and you have to allow them to develop it but it's crucial that also young or younger players grow into these roles and we support them with that."
Sam Greenwood can't play tomorrow but any regrets about loaning him to Boro?
"No, we are happy that he is progressing in the right way because in general it's not just about Sam and when you loan a player out you have two targets. Either that he comes back in a in a good rhythm and with a good loan and good performances and with good confidence to improve your squad or to increase his value out of a business aspect. These are the two things and, yes, I think that was definitely the right decision also to send him out because he's a young player full of potential and has many really, really good skills. For example, in set pieces and free-kicks, he is one of the best free kick takers I have ever worked with and I've worked with some good players for example like James Maddison and whatever. He has unbelievable skills. But in football, it's also not like American football, where you have a special squad and just for a special occasion you can send one player in. If you want to show this skill for example, you have to be on the pitch. So it's not like I can just go 'okay, there's a free kick or penalty or a corner, I just substitute a player in like in American football. This is different. If you would be allowed to do this, I would definitely have kept Sam Greenwood because in these terms, even in our squad he would be second to none. That's definitely a fact. But it's also important to play on this level if you want to improve us and create value for us. It's it's more or less like you have to make sure that you play day in, day out as a young player and also 90 minutes. And let's be honest, the situation for him was also a bit unlucky due to a long term/midterm injury in pre-season. Sadly he missed a big part and in these position is we have got Cree Summerville, Daniel James, Willy Gnonto, Joel Piroe, Jaidon Anthony, Joel Piroe, Giorgi Rutter, Patrick Bamford, it would be difficult for him to get this game time and it's important that you then gain this game time because you can also feel a bit in the beginning at Middlesbrough, he needed five, six, seven games to come into this rhythm and get a few minutes and I think he has eight starts so far during this campaign. I think he's on the right way, not already done but on the right way to earn his spot in also a really good possession side to play day in day out. It's not done yet because sometimes he also comes in as substitute but what you want is more like that he plays each and every game more or less for 90 minutes and he's in a good way to achieve this is. He's also delivered a few good end products and that is also good so he has shown what he can show if he's in a good rhythm And for that I'm delighted with him because he's not just a really good player but we also not thinking just selfish to keep him, although we know it's difficult for him to get some minutes for him. It's also important that he develops and there are no regrets. You want that a player does well and he has good chances to look back after the season on a really good, really good loan and if he does this then perfect. Also, the main topic is that he doesn't score against us tomorrow. This won't happen. A major topic is also that he doesn't score against us in the second leg. This won't happen. And in other terms I also think it was beneficial, when I think about some end products that he has delivered against some opponents who are around us the table, I think at the moment it's very very beneficial. So no regret, it works in a perfect way I have to way."
On Skubala leaving - plans now?
"Yes, it's too early to speak about what happens on the long term so right now we just focus on the here and now and Scott (Gardiner) tries to invest everything in order to do a really good job to improve the team and we will see what happens. We are happy that we have him and that he overtook also these responsibilities. It is also the next step for him and let's see what the outcome is. The initial feeling is is really good but it's not like we have to rush any decisions."
On Djed Spence - were you tempted to bring him on in midweek?
"Yes, all the players who are with us on the game days squad have chances and also during each and every minute you think about situations when you could bring him in and he's also a pretty attack minded fullback and once we were 2-1 in the lead and 3-1 in the lead, I have to say that Archie had everything under control and played a really, really good game in the full back position. He kept Lowe pretty, pretty pretty quiet who is a really decent winger and he was also crucial in our possession offensive game. He put in a nearly perfect cross for a great chance of Jaidon Anthony in the last minutes. Yes, Djed, because of his ability and his potential, I was thinking a lot during the last game about him but in the final stages of the game, there was also Pascal Struijk who was out for a little bit and had a few cramps and I was forced also to have a change on the on the centre back position and for that, the other changes and substitutes were more like on the offensive positions also to split the game time a little bit and then three or four so there are proper competitions. It was not the day to bring him in but this day could come pretty soon. Each and every day on the training pitch helps him and he is getting closer and closer."