AS a youngster starting out in football at Fulham, Mark Hudson had an early taste of what life can be like at a club where the manager chooses to look abroad for the majority of his new signings.
So, when David Wagner embarked on a summer recruitment drive that yielded four Germans, one Dutchman, a Croat, an Australian and a Slovenian then the Huddersfield Town captain was on familiar ground. Of sorts.
“When I started at Fulham as a kid, Jean Tigana was the manager and quite a few foreign lads came in,” the Terriers captain told The Yorkshire Post when asked to compare those early years in west London to the rebuilding job that Wagner has done at the John Smith’s Stadium this summer.
“It meant I had experience of what it can be like when players come in from overseas. Mind, times have changed since when I was starting out.
“When we started signing the lads from overseas this summer, all we had to do was Google someone and, straight away, up came all these videos.
“There are clips all over the place so when names started getting mentioned I had a look, as, I am sure, a lot of the lads did.
“It was very different at Fulham. Finding information out wasn’t as easy. I don’t think I even had a ’phone back then!
“The internet? What is that? It was probably dial-up back then. Nowadays, it is very different – you can find out everything at the click of a button – and see how they play.”
Hudson liked what he saw of Huddersfield’s new signings on the internet this summer. With good cause, too, as the new foreign legion at the John Smith’s have proved to be astute signings.
Elias Kachunga, one of Wagner’s fellow countrymen, already has two goals to his name, while Australian midfielder Aaron Mooy has proved a revelation since joining on loan from Manchester City.
Christopher Schindler, Town’s record £1.8m signing, is another to have adapted instantly to English football to help the West Yorkshire club to seven points from the opening trio of Championship outings.
“The boys who have come in settled very quickly,” said Terriers captain Hudson. “Regardless of whether they were from abroad or already here. That has been great and I believe it has been reflected in our start to the season.
“We have two players for every position, which is what the manager wanted this season. That is testament to him and the chairman (Dean Hoyle).
“It creates competition for places, and everyone has to play well to keep their shirt. It also means we can bring in fresh legs when we need them. Competition is everything at a club.”
Huddersfield’s impressive start underlines Wagner’s work in the summer transfer window. It is also vindication of the club’s decision to try a bold, fresh approach as autumn turned to winter last year.
Realising that Town had no chance of matching the big spenders of the Championship, Hoyle opted to change the whole ethos of a club that, since promotion in 2012, had been confined to the lower reaches of the second tier.
Wagner, the Terriers’ first non-British appointment, was given the task of overhauling the mindset and footballing philosophy at the John Smith’s.
Fans quickly bought into the ‘gegenpressing’ style that the 44-year-old imported from Borussia Dortmund and today’s derby visit of Barnsley is expected to attract a bumper 20,000-plus crowd. For Hudson, now into his third year at Town, the transformation has been huge and he admits the players are relishing the feelgood factor surrounding the club.
“I loved the opening day,” said the 34-year-old when asked about the 2-1 win over Brentford that was watched by 18,479 fans.
“It should be the same at home to Barnsley. I am told the club are making sure we have our fans on all four sides again so respect to them for that.
“The North Stand Loyal (who occupy half of the stand that houses the away fans at the John Smith’s) are great and we really like having them in that stand. They make a difference. It helps to create an atmosphere.
“I felt the home game against Brentford was fantastic, something that is great for the players to walk out to. And we have started well.
“You have to play every team at some time, I realise that. But things have gone well. We can’t look too far ahead but we have to be pleased.”
After emerging unbeaten from a tricky looking trio of opening fixtures, Town have already started to make a mockery of pundits such as former Scotland striker Chris Iwelumo for tipping the club for relegation. Not that Hudson and his team-mates are getting carried away.
“We hear what is being said about our club,” he added. “But everyone has their own opinion and that is fine. They are welcome to them.
“At Cardiff, we had the flipside and were expected to go up. As players, though, you can’t get carried away, whether nice things are being said about you or bad things. What we know in this dressing room is enough for us. We have that belief in ourselves and that is all we focus on.
“Getting the wins early was nice, of course it was. We came back from Newcastle and there was a real buzz about the lads on the Saturday night. But everyone still has their feet firmly on the ground.
“It is always nice to win games but this is very early. We had another game on Tuesday and then have to back that up with a big home game. We just take each game as it comes.”