Response from players gives Wagner hope for Huddersfield Town’s future

DAVID WAGNER: Has been impressed by the players' initial reaction to his methods.
DAVID WAGNER: Has been impressed by the players' initial reaction to his methods.
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DAVID WAGNER has been careful not to overload his Huddersfield Town players despite admitting the past fortnight has involved an intensive crash course in the ‘gegenpressing’ system he wants the Yorkshire club to adopt.

The 44-year-old takes charge of his first game tomorrow as the Terriers travel to Sheffield Wednesday.

Wagner has promised Town fans will “see something new” at Hillsborough after spending his first two weeks implementing the basics of a playing style that helped former club Borussia Dortmund become one of Europe’s most formidable outfits.

“The players have been very open to the new ideas,” said the German, who has used both the classroom and the training field to get across his instructions.

“We have taken the first step, both in the head and on the pitch. We had five days in Spain (at a training camp last week) and now four in England to do what we normally do in pre-season over six or seven weeks.

“We have provided a few of our ideas, not all of them. We have been careful not to overload the players with information. Instead, we have given them the key points about what we want to see.

“The players have made it easy because they are ready to accept. It will be exciting on Saturday, as we hopefully see the first step in the new direction.”

Wagner yesterday made his first signing, as 18-year-old left-back Ben Chilwell joined on loan from Leicester City.

Part of the England Under-21 squad that beat Switzerland earlier this week, Chilwell has already had an early taster of Wagner’s methods.

“It is a unique style of football and very foreign,” said the teenager. “As soon as we lose the ball, we have to win it back as soon as possible. Within the first five seconds.

“If we can’t do that, we have to get back into a compact shape. Attacking wise, we have to break quickly.

“The system might sound simple but there are a lot of aspects. If someone is not doing their job, the whole thing can be hard.

“If we are looking to press and one person goes but the rest don’t follow, they will be picked off and it will be too easy to get out. Everyone has to be on board.”

Wagner may have promised a new-look approach to Town fans for the trip to the Steel City but the club’s head coach is also at pains to stress that patience will be needed.

“It is not easy to say (how long it will take for Huddersfield to have fully adopted his methods),” said the Terriers’ chief.

“For me, we have taken the first step, both in the head and on the pitch. Now, the next step is important as we try to build up the confidence. I am sure there will be up and downs on the way.

“If we win on Saturday, it does not mean we will win the next 10 games. But we will have taken another step. We have to be patient.

“If everyone works with this new style, we will be okay. I am happy with the players we have. It is the change in the mind we need.

“It is not dependent on age, more on how open you are to defend actively. Don’t be passive in defence. We must stay on the front foot.”

Since taking full charge in the wake of the home derby loss to Leeds United, Wagner has often had the players in for double training sessions.

Some of these have, admittedly, been spent in the classroom as he outlined the ‘gegenpressing’ system so beloved of Dortmund during his time at Dortmund under good friend, Jurgen Klopp.

But Wagner is also keen to increase fitness levels among the squad to ensure Town are able to press the opposition in the manner he demands.

“We have to build up fitness,” said the German. “It is very important part of our game.”

From the Owls’ camp: Page 23.