Wag­ner’s Ter­ri­ers beat odds, si­lence crit­ics

The New Age (Free State) - - SPORT - LON­DON

DAVID Wag­ner’s ar­rival at Hud­der­s­field Town was greeted with scorn, but just 18 months later the Ger­man has si­lenced the crit­ics by mas­ter­mind­ing his club’s fairy­tale pro­mo­tion to the Premier League.

When Wag­ner was plucked from his role as Borus­sia Dort­mund’s re­serve team coach by Hud­der­s­field owner Dean Hoyle in Novem­ber 2015, many pun­dits claimed his lack of ex­pe­ri­ence in the cut-throat world of the sec­ond-tier Cham­pi­onship meant the ap­point­ment was doomed to failure.

Ian Hol­loway, then a tele­vi­sion pun­dit and now Queens Park Rangers man­ager, la­belled Hud­der­s­field as can­di­dates for rel­e­ga­tion at the start of this sea­son.

Win­ning pro­mo­tion, which is worth £170m (R2.9bn) to the Ter­ri­ers, was a sweet mo­ment for Wag­ner and, drenched in cham­pagne from his play­ers’ cel­e­bra­tions, he ar­rived at a post-match press con­fer­ence keen to re­mind his crit­ics how far he had come in such a short time.

“By the way Ian Hol­loway, all the best for next sea­son,” Wag­ner said. “I know a lot of the pun­dits wrote us off. I’m so happy to prove ex­pe­ri­ence is not es­sen­tial, es­pe­cially here in Eng­land which is so tra­di­tional. Well, ex­pe­ri­ence is im­por­tant but if you have pas­sion and ideas you can match it.”

Wag­ner’s tri­umph is even more im­pres­sive when you con­sider Hud­der­s­field’s bud­get ranked among the low­est in the sec­ond tier.

Turn­ing an unglam­ourous former mill town into a host venue for the star- stud­ded line-ups of Chelsea, Manch­ester United and com­pany is the stuff of dreams.

“The peo­ple that re­mem­ber Hud­der­s­field be­ing in the top flight are very old,” Wag­ner, him­self 45 years old, said.

“It’s spe­cial. I’m so proud for the play­ers and so happy for the whole town. I told the play­ers they are heroes. They had the op­por­tu­nity to be­come leg­ends and they have done it.”

When the fix­ture list comes out, Wag­ner will look for Hud­der­s­field’s dates with Liver­pool, whose man­ager Jur­gen Klopp has been a close friend since they worked to­gether at Dort­mund.

Klopp, who is god­fa­ther to one of Wag­ner’s daugh­ters, was the boss back in Ger­many but they will meet in Eng­land on equal terms. “It will be funny to meet him in the Premier League. He’s a pal but it doesn’t meant it won’t be crazy on the touch­line.” – AFP


MOV­ING UP: Hud­der­s­field coach David Wag­ner.

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