Everything is there apart from the win, says defiant Huddersfield boss Wagner
MANAGER David Wagner insists a first win of the season is imminent for Huddersfield Town after hailing his side’s mental strength.
The Terriers moved above Cardiff City and Newcastle United to 18th in the table courtesy of a 1-1 draw at Burnley.
“It is not easy to stay mentally strong,” said Wagner, whose side have claimed just three draws and scored four goals in the opening eight league outings. “Points help you, but what I will say is this group is mentally very strong.
“They have performed with bravery and confidence in recent weeks. We have not got the results we maybe deserved, including against Tottenham.
“But everything is there apart from the win. We want that as soon as possible, but this is a performance to build on.
“It is the same with goals. Both Steve (Mounie) and Laurent (Depoitre) play on a very high level without the luck you need as a striker.
“Like the wins, this will come if they keep working like they have done in the past. One will come to the other, this is the nature of football.”
Town’s impressive display at Turf Moor was marred by Laurent Depoitre’s blatant dive to try to win a penalty in the second half.
Following on from Rajiv van la Parra attempting to do the same in the corresponding fixture last season, to also be booked, Clarets manager Sean Dyche was incensed.
“That is embarrassing,” he said. “We are not talking gamesmanship or cleverness or someone clipping you and then they go down. We are talking blatant dives and it was cringeworthy.”
HUDDERSFIELD TOWN 1
SPORTING a deep cut under his right eye and with a dollop of glue holding his bloodied nose together, Christopher Schindler knew a painful few days lay ahead as he left Turf Moor.
The Huddersfield Town defender, fresh from scoring his maiden Premier League goal, came off distinctly second-best to a flying elbow from Burnley striker Sam Vokes.
And just moments later a clearly dazed Schindler, claret already gushing from his nose at the home of the Clarets, threw himself in front of Ashley Westwood’s shot and was rewarded with the ball smacking him full in the face.
Five minutes of treatment followed on the pitch amid a respectful hush from the 20,533 crowd before the German got unsteadily to his feet and then, to the amazement of everyone, proceeded to play on.
If any moment encapsulated the desire and warrior-like spirit that has taken Huddersfield to unexpected heights under manager David Wagner then this was it.
“My nose was not the prettiest before this,” said the German, part-wincing and part smiling. “Maybe now it is back in shape. But it feels fine.
“I don’t want to say that he (Vokes) did it on purpose. Burnley are a physical team, strong guys.
“To free them up a little bit, they use their arms. Unfortunately, my nose was in the way. He apologised to me.
“The main thing now is whether the glue sticks and it does not start bleeding again. There will be no need to see doctors if that stays the case.”
Schindler’s insistence on playing through the pain barrier during the final quarter brought to mind the chart-topping hit Tubthumping by Burnley band Chumbawamba.
“I get knocked down,” sang lead singer Dunstan Bruce on the infectiously catchy 1997 tune, “but I get up again, you are never gonna keep me down.”
Such a stoical attitude will be pivotal if Huddersfield, still winless after eight games this season, are to confound those who have already written off their chances of avoiding the drop.
As will being more clinical in front of goal, a regular fail- ing since promotion was won at Wembley via a shoot-out penalty from Schindler.
Huddersfield had dominated against a Burnley side chasing a third straight win. They had more possession, more attempts on goal and more corners than their hosts, but still came away with just a point.
Schindler’s 65th-minute equaliser was a wonderfully executed flicked header that gave former England goalkeeper Joe Hart no chance.
But on an afternoon when the Terriers fashioned no fewer than 19 efforts on goal that header was one of just two that found their target.
Aaron Mooy was behind the other effort to test Hart, the Australian’s rasping shot shortly before the hour mark bringing a smart save low to his right from a goalkeeper who has rediscovered his best form since moving to Turf Moor.
Otherwise, though, Huddersfield were unable to capitalise on a string of promising situations against an unusually out-of-sorts Burnley.
James Tarkowski played a part in that. The England international was outstanding in the Clarets’ backline, Laurent Depoitre twice having cause to bemoan the defender’s uncanny knack of being in the right place at the right time.
The first on 14 minutes saw Tarkowski block Depoitre’s shot after Alex Pritchard had cleverly dispossessed Ben Mee and found the Town striker.
Then, after Vokes had given Burnley the lead against the run of play with a 19th-minute header firmly planted past Jonas Lossl, Depoitre was again denied by the thinnest of touches from Tarkowski that meant the Belgian shinned rather than struck his shot.
Others in blue and white guilty of profligacy in the first half included Philip Billing, who twice squandered good openings, and Jonathan Hogg. The ever-frustrating Rajiv van la Parra also failed to marry neat approach play with even a half-decent finish.
Town’s inability to turn pressure into goals continued after the break and Vokes almost made the visitors pay on the hour with an attempted flick to a Johann Berg Gudmundsson shot that Lossl did well to hold.
Five minutes later Schindler made amends for being beaten in the air by Vokes for the opener to draw Town level from an inviting cross from Chris Lowe.
“It was an important goal for me personally because it was my first in the Premier League,” he said. “But also an important goal for the team.
“The whole team played an unbelievable 90 minutes. We went 1-0 down, but still kept on playing. This was one of the best performances I have seen from this team.”
Schindler’s afternoon may have ended in pain, but his equaliser at least eased some of the suf- fering felt by the 165 Town fans who had walked the 26 miles to Burnley in honour of the late Ray Wilson.
As the last stragglers raising funds for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance and the Alzheimer’s Society crossed the border into Lancashire near Todmorden shortly before noon reaching Turf Moor must have felt as unattainable a goal as the pundits believe Premier League survival remains for their beloved team.
More of the same commitment shown by not only Schindler but also those intrepid fans sporting blisters come Saturday evening and this may yet be a fight that can be won.
OPENING HIS ACCOUNT: German central defender Christopher Schindler celebrates his first Premier League goal, top, after Sam Vokes, left, had headed Burnley ahead at Turf Moor. Right, the frustrating Rajiv van La Parra attacks Jack Cork.