Why Leeds United boss Daniel Farke is not holding Norwich City play-off press conference

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Such is the way of the modern game that every word uttered by managers like Leeds United's Daniel Farke is scrutinised and the same can be true of the words left unsaid.

Farke and Leeds decided last week that with no contractual obligation to hold a pre-game press conference for the play-off semi-final second leg, there was no real argument to do so. The logic? Well what has changed since he last spoke to the media after Sunday's 0-0 first leg draw? The opponent is the same. He's talked about facing Norwich already on three separate occasions this season. His feelings on that club and the difficulty they pose as a team are no different. The job at hand is the same, the stakes have not changed and just about anyone could sit in front of a microphone and call this a big game or a must-win fixture. The only new information that Farke might bring to the table to discuss was any team news and given that he ruled Patrick Bamford out of this fixture almost a week ago, even that might be exactly the same. Besides, from a Leeds perspective, would keeping a secret or two from Norwich be such a bad thing?

Before this strays into turkey voting for Christmas territory, press conferences are still an important part of the footballing week. They're a chance to update supporters on the health and wellbeing of their players, address any number of situations engulfing the club, the team or individuals, an opportunity to explain decisions and philosophies. The concerns of fans can be represented and, sometimes, assuaged. With access to club owners, particularly those based elsewhere, so limited a manager becomes a spokesman - fairly or not - for the entire organisation. Accountability is a difficult thing to bring to a football club’s doorstep but press conferences offer a small window in that regard. When Marcelo Bielsa was at the helm he was a figurehead. His press conferences could be utterly fascinating. There were times when it felt like he was on a mission to educate, or at least to advocate for principles in danger of being lost from the game. Had Farke held a press conference this week, the YEP would have been there because no chance to put questions to the manager of Leeds United should or will ever be missed. An opportunity to dig a little into the likelihood of seeing an Archie Gray-Georginio Rutter axis in the second leg, or unearthing some detail on what it is you focus on in training before tackling the same opponent in a game that, unlike the first leg has to be won, would have been nice.

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But if Farke was holding a pre second leg presser this week, what would he be saying? We can take some pretty safe guesses, or as he might put it: "Sometimes you have to be there with some pretty, pretty spot on guesses." How big is this game? Yes it's a spotlight game and we know we have to win it if we want to be there with a chance of the best possible prize. Are your players ready for such a big game? Yes they have been focused and they are prepared but it is one thing to bring the ideas to the head and the hearts of the players, they need to bring it onto the pitch, but I trust all my players. What role will the Elland Road fans play? We need each and every supporter, especially in difficult moments. Put a mic in his hand this week and he would, of course, play all the hits.

How the decision to stay silent will come to be viewed is, like anything, linked heavily to whatever result Leeds get from this game. Win it and no one cares, let alone remembers to make a point of it. Lose and you might as well chuck it in with every other decision that will be torn asunder amid the wailing and gnashing of teeth. It will of course pale in significance next to the Holy Trinity of team selection, tactics and recruitment.

There is a case to make that a pre-match briefing would have been a chance to issue one last rallying cry to the fans. And perhaps to set the tone, publically, for his players. A Leeds fan working elsewhere in the world of football communications recently remarked in the minutes directly following Farke's pre-Southampton press conference that they would 'run through brick walls' for him. The German had been asked how comfortable he was in backing players that might have let him down a little of late. In response he mounted a defence of his players and their season that should have had them striding around Thorp Arch at their very tallest, with shoulders drawn back. Of course, it did not lead to the result they wanted in that game, but all season Farke has protected his youngsters through his public utterances in order to keep them onside and on track for what still remains possible. If the mood was dark at the tail end of the season, then the Norwich performance was somewhat of a dawn, at least in terms of fight and defensive effort. Farke might say that if his players don't know what he thinks of them and how much he rates them by now, then they never will.

And of course, when it comes to the fans, they don't really need Farke to tell them what their job is on Thursday night. Elland Road is a stadium with acute emotional intelligence. Desperate for success, sure, but not so impatient or ruthless that they allowed disappointment to hang in the air after that Southampton defeat. Instead they gave in to an urge to roar their players around the pitch, off down the tunnel and into the play-offs. On Sunday at Norwich City it was the same. How many 0-0 draws, especially let's face it pretty drab ones, end in an ovation quite like the one the away end delivered? Leeds fans know full well what Farke needs from them for the second leg. After that, after whatever comes next, there will be plenty to say and Farke will be obliged to respond. For now, though, Leeds have decided that the talking is going to be done on the pitch. Let's see what they have to say.

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