A MARK of just how well David Wagner’s first year at Huddersfield Town has gone for the German came yesterday when he was asked to choose a personal highlight.
“It is impossible to pick out one moment,” said the German after three or four seconds of deep thought. “Totally impossible, and that is because I have had a lot of great moments here. My first game, Sheffield Wednesday away, will always be in my memories. My first win as well, Birmingham away.
“The first win against Leeds United (last March) was special. We have also won at Newcastle, drawn at Aston Villa – so many great moments and these make me hungry to get more of those moments.”
That last comment is a telling one. Wagner, already the seventh longest serving manager in the Championship after just 12 months at the helm, is not a man to stand still for long.
He is also not a man keen on looking back for too long, as the Town squad discovered this week.
Last weekend’s 5-0 defeat at Fulham was, undoubtedly, a horror show but, after taking his players through a few video clips on Tuesday, the Craven Cottage hiding has not been mentioned again.
Instead, tomorrow’s visit of Birmingham City has been the focus as Huddersfield look to mark their head coach’s first anniversary with three points.
“It has gone very quickly,” said Wagner when pressed further on 12 months that have taken Town from 19th place to third in the Championship.
“I find it unbelievable that it is one year since I was appointed as manager of Huddersfield Town. Time goes very quickly in football anyway, but especially for me in English football because so much has been new.
“New language, new country, new club, new league, new opponents, new stadiums, new characters of managers, new players and new styles. So many new influences that I had to adapt.
“I am still learning about this new football culture in England. Maybe this is why it feels so much less than one year.
“What I can say is that we are on track. I feel we can see that, not only in terms of our game, our identity and our points, but also how we have created a whole atmosphere around the club.
“We have made some big steps over the past 12 months, but it will be very exciting and interesting to see what the next steps are.
“Dean (Hoyle, Town chairman), Stuart (Webber, head of football operations) and I have a lot of ideas that we can do with this club and how we can progress things in the future.
“I have a very good feeling and know after one year that I made the right decision when Dean gave me this opportunity.”
Town fans will surely second that sentiment.
Huddersfield, despite three defeats in their last four games, are firmly entrenched in a promotion race so keenly fought that a host of managers in the second tier have already paid for a slow start with their jobs. It is something that Wagner admits he finds hard to get his head around.
“It is scary,” said the German of the managerial merry-go-round in the Championship. “Every manager in professional football knows this is a very, very nervous environment to work in.
“One reason is the promotion system with the play-offs. The sixth-placed club can win promotion and, sometimes, a team is 13th or 14th, but four points off and dreaming of promotion.
“That is not usually the case (in other countries) and makes things so nervous.
“Here, though, Huddersfield Town wants stability and consistency. They are patient enough to know there will be ups and down. They are humble, but ambitious. A perfect environment to develop a football club and that is so exciting for me.”