Daniel Farke's Leeds United gut feeling disproved as boss addresses nervy finish and ref complaint

PERFECT RESULT - Daniel Farke's gut feeling that Leeds United were due a sucker punch was disproved as the Whites beat Plymouth Argyle 2-1 at Elland Road. Pic: Jonathan Gawthorpe
PERFECT RESULT - Daniel Farke's gut feeling that Leeds United were due a sucker punch was disproved as the Whites beat Plymouth Argyle 2-1 at Elland Road. Pic: Jonathan Gawthorpe

The Whites were utterly dominant in the first half, going 2-0 up through goals from Daniel James and Joel Piroe, and after the break they created more than enough chances to win at a canter. But in failing to hit the net for a third time Leeds ran the risk of letting the visitors back into it and an 84th minute counter attack, finished off by Ben Waine, introduced nerves to the equation. Holding out to clinch a third straight win and drag the top two sides in the Championship back to within eight points made Farke a very happy man.

“I'll take these three points all day long,” he said. “If you would have offered me to win 2-1 before the game I would have signed it. Today I was really concerned. After a spotlight game, after a brilliant result and performance [at Leicester City] and getting so much praise from the press, fans, pundits -and well deserved – the training week was very good and my gut feeling was it's all too easy. I’ve experienced this before as a player and a manager. Normally you're there with a sucker punch. So those three points are priceless. A perfect result. When you're so dominant as we were in the first half, 2-0 up, you speak about the chances in the second half, you would have wished to win 6-0 but if you don't score the goals it's always the same.”

Farke acknowledged his team’s second half wastefulness, having carved Argyle open on a couple of occasions and crafted shooting opportunities in and around the box that could and should have stretched the lead to three goals or more, but he credited Steven Schumacher’s men for making a game of it. Farke said: “Joel Piroe in two situations where he normally always scores, Rutter with a couple of chances, Gnonto in a one-v-one that he normally scores, Anthony with a big chance. Normally you should score at least three or four. But there's also a brave opponent who plays with freedom and goes for it. We allowed them to have one chance in the second half, they were clinical, able to score. Then you have to bring a tight lead over the line so I was quite pleased. We made our life today a bit more complicated than it should have been but again I just have compliments for the performance, for a valuable three points. I'm still a happy man.”

Farke’s opposite number used his post-match press conference to complain about referee Josh Smith’s decision not to award Plymouth Argyle a penalty for Ethan Ampadu’s challenge on Bali Mumba. Schumacher felt Smith got it right in the first half when he ignored Georginio Rutter’s penalty appeals, but Farke did not see eye-to-eye with the Plymouth boss. He said: “I haven't watched the scenes back, difficult to say. But if one has to complain today about some situations the referee has decided, it should be me. It was definitely not that we had an advantage with the referee, it was more the other way around. I don't want to watch it back [Rutter’s first half penalty appeal] because if I realise it was a penalty I'd be even more annoyed.”

The German has repeatedly resisted any early talk of league tables and points tallies but reducing Leicester’s lead from 14 down to eight before the November international break is one indicator of how well Leeds have settled after a difficult summer and the mass exodus of players. Farke is pleased with how things have gone and determined to ensure Leeds strive for much more.

“I'm not too addicted to a position in the table but after this tricky start, if someone had guaranteed us to be in third many people would have said it would be a positive surprise,” he said. “We're in a really good shape, on a really good run, six wins out of seven is a top level. The performance levels is the most important topic. We improve more or less on a weekly basis and show some really consistent performances. We show the values we want to stand for and to create a big identity and unity within the club and dressing room. This is Leeds United and this is how we want to work and play. The points average, nearly two per game, if we can transport this to the end of the season then happy days. It's a long way to go. If we stay on 31 points we'll probably be relegated so we have to make sure we win many, many points and this is definitely the plan.”