Football: Huddersfield’s “improbable” journey
It was supposed to be the moment that “cold, hard reality” would bite for Huddersfield Town, said Nick Townsend in The Sunday Times. Returning to the top flight for the first time since 1972, they had been dismissed as favourites for relegation. Yet in their first Premier League match of the season, at Crystal Palace, they won 3-0 – putting them top of the table for a day. “This was as good a return to the elite as the club could have envisaged,” said Sam Dean in The Sunday Telegraph. They were “organised, powerful and aggressive”. And in Steve Mounié – the Beninese striker who scored two goals – they might have one of the signings of the summer. The Terriers’ “improbable” journey to the Premier League is nothing short of a “football fairy tale”, said Simon Kuper in the Financial Times. Their wage bill last season was a mere £11m, the fourth-lowest in the Championship. By contrast, in the Premier League the lowest was £58m. The club has an “unusually close” relationship to the town: the fan base is “almost entirely local”, and the players’ canteen is still open to the public. Unlike so many Premier League bosses, the owner, Dean Hoyle, is a fan who lives nearby, and keeps seasonticket prices pegged at just £199 – the cheapest in the league. But if anyone is responsible for the club’s success, it’s David Wagner, said Matt Hughes in The Times. Since joining less than two years ago, the German manager has brought in canny signings and introduced the “high-octane gegenpressing” pioneered by his mentor, Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp: the side play high up the pitch, putting pressure on the opposing team. When Wagner took over, Huddersfield had finished no higher than 16th since being promoted to the Championship in 2012. To be in the Premier League just two seasons later is an extraordinary achievement.
Wagner: canny signings