Wagner’s Terriers beat odds, silence critics
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.