HEAD COACH David Wagner has stressed that he is paying no attention to the doubters tipping Huddersfield Town’s Championship bubble to burst – while reaffirming his commitment to the club.
Town lie in an impressive third position ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Cardiff City, but have won just once in their past five matches, allowing the chasing pack to close in.
In spite of the club’s recent mini-dip, renewed speculation regarding Wagner’s future surfaced last week when the German was linked with a move back to his homeland with Bundesliga strugglers FC Ingolstadt.
Wagner, also linked with the vacant posts at Derby County and Aston Villa earlier this autumn, has revealed that Huddersfield were contacted by Ingolstadt, but insists that his future remains in West Yorkshire.
The 45-year-old, who recently celebrated his first anniversary in charge at Town, maintains that his sole focus is continuing the club’s outstanding opening third to 2016-17 – starting at Cardiff this weekend.
Wagner admits that Town have work to do to repair the damage from their last two away performances, which has seen them ship a combined total of eight goals en route to comprehensive defeats at Preston and Fulham.
But equally, he is giving little credence to any outsiders who suggest that Huddersfield – whose current buffer above the side currently just out of the play-off positions in Birmingham City is four points – are potentially on the slide.
Wagner said: “To be fair, I am not able to influence what other people away from Huddersfield are thinking about.
“If this is the case, maybe we have to show them that it is not true. But on the other side, to think about this stuff does not help me in my daily work.
“I am focused on my group to confirm some things that we have done well and develop and improve some other things.
“Everyone in football can choose what they like to. If you take the last five games, we are less successful than the 10 games before. That is true, there is no arguments.
“But at the moment we are on track. But we (also) know that in the last two away games, we under-performed and conceded eight goals and six from set-pieces.
“We cannot close our eyes and say, ‘we are third in the table, everything is great, let’s celebrate’.
“That makes no sense; we like to go forward and we need to be able to show we can perform away in our identity and get a clean sheet away.”
Determined to finish off the job he has started at the John Smith’s Stadium, Wagner says that he never entertained the prospect to join Ingolstadt, despite confirming that the German outfit did speak to Huddersfield officials.
Wagner also revealed that other unnamed clubs had spoken to Huddersfield about his services, but he insists that his sole interest is building on his sterling work at Town.
He added: “I know about the phone calls that happened. But it was never a doubt for me what will be.
“My future at the moment is here in Huddersfield, so it was nothing I thought about.
“There was a contact, phone calls or whatever. But then there was only one because I am here on track. This is not the right moment and right club for me.
“The right club at this moment is Huddersfield Town.
“For my side, there is nothing to further say about this. But to be fair, there were, in the past, a few of these phone calls (from other clubs) and I am still here.”
Fresh from a bonding session for playing and coaching staff and their families in Marbella – which fitted in some warm-weather training – Wagner is banking on the change of scenery in Spain and the recharging of collective batteries to reap rewards during the run to the end of the year.
The break enabled Town to mentally refresh, according to Wagner, with his belief being that a spell of relaxation can serve as preparation for the key weeks ahead, including the hectic December programme.
Wagner, whose decision to take his players to Sweden for a ‘survival camp’ summer expedition was widely cited as a galvanising factor in their fine start to 2016-17, said: “The whole (Marbella) trip was very good and my hope is that it will give us a lift for the next busy time that we have.
“We try to find some different ways to be successful as we are a different club compared to a lot of other Championship clubs.
“Especially in the Championship where there are so many games and especially here at Huddersfield where our training schedule is a little bit different, we wanted to pay a little bit back and show we are still searching for new ideas and ways to bring our group together.”
Wagner will make a late decision regarding whether influential midfielder Aaron Mooy will feature at Cardiff after he only arrived back from international duty with Australia on Wednesday evening.