WAG­NER IS WARY OF WOUNDED WEST HAM

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - FRONT PAGE - Richard Sut­cliffe CHIEF FOOT­BALL WRITER Email: richard.sut­cliffe@ypn.co.uk Twit­ter: @RSootyYPS­port

AHEAD of tack­ling what he con­sid­ers to be a “proper Pre­mier League club”, Hud­der­s­field Town head coach David Wag­ner in­sists his side’s eye­brow-rais­ing start to life among the elite will count for noth­ing tonight.

The Ter­ri­ers head to the London Sta­dium for a first league meet­ing with West Ham United in 45 years on the back of tak­ing seven points from their open­ing three out­ings.

A trio of clean sheets has also been notched, mean­ing an­other shut-out in the cap­i­tal tonight will set a new record in the Pre­mier League era by a newly-pro­moted club.

As pleas­ing as that start has been, how­ever, Wag­ner is at pains to stress that all the plau­dits and praise that has come Hud­der­s­field’s way will be of lit­tle use against Slaven Bilic’s men.

“The past will be ir­rel­e­vant on Mon­day night,” said the 45-yearold Ger­man ahead of the tele­vised clash with the Ham­mers. “We have to de­liver. Of course, con­fi­dence is im­por­tant. But shortly be­fore the game starts, it doesn’t help be­cause we have to per­form again.

“This group have seen many times that what hap­pened be­fore is ir­rel­e­vant.”

The huge gap in league fix­tures be­tween Town and the Ham­mers – pierced just once by a two-legged League Cup tie in 1997 that the Lon­don­ers won 3-1 on ag­gre­gate – un­der­lines just how dif­fer­ent a path the two clubs have taken in re­cent decades.

Wag­ner is well aware of that dis­par­ity, as he is the gulf in re- sources that al­lowed Bilic to make a late un­suc­cess­ful move for a player in Sport­ing Lis­bon’s Wil­liam Car­valho whose £36.1m buy­out clause all but matches Town’s en­tire trans­fer out­lay over the sum­mer.

West Ham failed with those at­tempts and sit rock bot­tom of the fledg­ling ta­ble, mean­ing an air of gloom has de­scended over the East End club.

This has led some to sug­gest that Wag­ner’s pre­vi­ous as­ser­tion that Town will be “huge un­der­dogs” in ev­ery fix­ture this sea­son is not nec­es­sar­ily the case tonight.

The Ger­man, how­ever, does not agree.

“OK, yes, we are a Pre­mier League club, like West Ham are,” he added. “But West Ham are much more es­tab­lished.

“West Ham work with to­tally dif­fer­ent num­bers to what we do. They have a 60,000-ca­pac­ity sta­dium, we have a 25,000-ca­pac­ity sta­dium.

“I think the sizes of these two clubs are still not com­pa­ra­ble, even if they are both in the Pre­mier League.

“West Ham are a proper Pre­mier League club with a big his­tory.

“Ev­ery­one who knows me knows that this does not mean we are not am­bi­tious.

“We are am­bi­tious but I think we should be honest that in terms of the size, these are two dif­fer­ent clubs.”

Fol­low­ing such a poor start to the sea­son and the fail­ure to bring in any big name sign­ings dur­ing the fi­nal days of the win­dow, Ham­mers fans are in un­for­giv­ing mood at the mo­ment.

An early Hud­der­s­field goal, there­fore, could lead to sup­port­ers turn­ing on their own play­ers. Just three sea­sons ago, West Ham were booed off at Up­ton Park de­spite beat­ing an­other York­shire side in Hull City.

Sam Al­lardyce was the main target of the lo­cals’ wrath that night and, while Bilic is a much more pop­u­lar fig­ure, there is ev­ery chance of a repeat of those cat­calls if things are not go­ing to plan.

Wag­ner added: “Of course, this is some­thing we are aware of – how the at­mos­phere can change if a team does not get a lift.

“What usu­ally hap­pens at home is more stones on your shoul­ders from the stands. We are aware about this sit­u­a­tion but we, at first, have to do our own things right. That is why I al­ways say we have to be fo­cused on our­selves.

“It doesn’t help if you are aware about this but then don’t make use of it. To get some­thing out of it, first of all we have to be fo­cused on our­selves.”

At­tack­ing mid­fielder Ab­del­hamid Sabiri and right-back Florent Hadergjonaj – both signed in the fi­nal week of the win­dow – are in the squad af­ter spend­ing the in­ter­na­tional break get­ting up to speed with both Wag­ner’s fit­ness de­mands and also Town’s style of play. All six of those away on in­ter­na­tional duty have also re­turned with no in­jury prob­lems.

DAVID WAG­NER: Hud­der­s­field head coach takes his un­beaten side to the cap­i­tal tonight.

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