TOWN STRIVE TO FIND THAT ELUSIVE WINNING FEELING
HUDDERSFIELD TOWN defender Christopher Schindler has hailed the “magnificent” job done by David Wagner on the third anniversary of his countryman taking charge of the Yorkshire club.
The Terriers, bottom of the Premier League, host fellow strugglers Fulham tonight looking to claim their first win of the season.
With Newcastle United beating Watford on Saturday, victory will not be enough to lift Town out of the relegation zone.
But three points against Slavisa Jokanovic’s Londoners would undoubtedly breathe new life into the campaign for the Yorkshire club and bolster hopes of surviving among the elite once again.
“The changing room needs this feeling of winning again,” said Munich-born Schindler, the scorer of the shoot-out penalty at Wembley in May, 2017 that sent Huddersfield into the Premier League.
“Once you have that feeling again then you do not know how things go from there. But, at least the confidence will grow massively. For our squad, that is the most important thing after the run we have had. We need to stop it, get positive results and get back on track.”
Town last tasted victory on April 14, Tom Ince netting a dramatic stoppage-time winner against Watford that ultimately kept the club up.
Survival came against all the odds, just as promotion had been with Wagner having arrived at the John Smith’s Stadium on Bon- fire Night 2015 with the Terriers sitting 18th in the table.
Defeat to Leeds United a couple of days later with the German watching from the directors’ box as Mark Lillis took temporary charge of the team saw Huddersfield slip another place.
Two games and two more losses then saw Wagner’s men slide into the relegation zone but soon Town were on an upwards trajectory under their new manager.
“It is almost unbelievable,” said Schindler, the club’s record signing when he arrived from TSV 1860 Munich in a £1.8m deal, about Wagner. “When I joined the club he had been here for a while already but what he did for this club is just magnificent.
“I think, you have to look all around the globe to see a story like this about an underdog. Even in the Championship. To get promoted, to stay up last year and now obviously we are still wanting to continue writing this story because we are enjoying it so much.
“For the last two years, everyone has had a lot of praise. We want this to continue and that is why I am really thankful and also really happy for him that he had such an impact on this club. I think the whole situation for him is good.
“He has a good reputation and good relations with the chairman and staff members. We just have to turn things around on the pitch and turn it into a positive again.”
Wagner, for his part, is keen to focus on the task of beating Fulham rather than his anniversary.
But the 47-year-old does vividly recall his first meeting with chairman Dean Hoyle to discuss the possibility of the then Borussia Dortmund reserve team manager succeeding Chris Powell.
“It was in a hotel in London,” Wagner said. “He had the question, ‘Is it possible my football club is able to play the style of football like Dortmund?’
“I said, ‘Yes, of course it is possible if you have an open-minded environment with people who are open-minded. And if you have a little bit of patience, which every manager asks for, then for sure it is possible’.
“There is no secret behind the style as to how Dortmund play. It is a question of how you try to implement and transport the style of football to your club. I was comfortable enough that I had not a shadow of a doubt that this was possible.
“He also said, ‘Listen, we are in relegation trouble and we have to stay up’. This, for sure, was a point of our conversation. But when we met a second time, he made it clear that he thought his club had no identity. He said: ‘Nobody knows what this club stands for’. He wanted to bring in someone who had an idea of what an identity can look like, and how to create and implement this identity.”
Last six games: Huddersfield Town LLLDLL, Fulham WLLLLL. Referee: A Taylor (Cheshire). Last time: Huddersfield Town 1 Fulham 4; April 2017; Championship.