HUDDERSFIELD TOWN manager Danny Cowley says he is ready for the biggest challenge of his life ahead of his maiden game in charge of the Terriers in tomorrow’s lunchtime derby with Sheffield Wednesday.
A fascinating afternoon pits together two new managers in the shape of Cowley, named as the club’s new boss on Monday afternoon and Owls chief Garry Monk, who takes charge of Wednesday for the first time at the John Smith’s Stadium (noon kick-off) following his appointment eight days ago.
It promises to be a weekend to savour for White Rose football fans with the second instalment of a big Yorkshire derby double-header taking place at Oakwell when Barnsley welcome Leeds United (12.30pm).
The game at Huddersfield is given added intrigue by the fact that Cowley was strongly linked with the vacant post at Hillsborough ahead of agreeing to take over at Town at the second time of asking – although the 40-year-old has stressed that he never spoke to the Owls about the managerial position.
On a first game in charge against the Owls, just over a week after being tipped to make a move there, Cowley said: “This is how football works and it seems to create these moments.
“For Nicky (assistant manager) and I to manage in the Championship with our first game being on Sunday is incredible and something we are unbelievably proud of.
They have got a new manager and I expect a response from them. It is probably a bad time to be playing them, but it could also be bad time for them. It is a unique situation.Danny Cowley
“To manage in nine of the top divisions in this country in 13 seasons has been pretty special. But we have not come this far to (only) come this far. We do not expect it to end here and we see this as the next step in the journey.
“What we have to do, first and foremost, is find a way of winning football matches.
“There is no doubt that this is the biggest challenge of my life. But I have woken up every single morning since taking the job and I have felt really excited about what is to come.”
On tomorrow’s match-up, Cowley’s opposite number Monk commented: “Of course, it is a unique situation where there are two new managers and it is a derby.
“You could not have asked for anything more. I think it will be a good game.
“They have got a new manager and I expect a response from them.
“It is probably a bad time to be playing them, but it could also be bad time for them. It is a unique situation.
“It is one where we will try our best and give 100 per cent to get the three points. We know we can do it if we do the things we need to right.”
Daniel Stendel’s Reds head into tomorrow’s game at Oakwell on the back of a six-match winless streak in all competitions since their opening-day win over Fulham, with home supporters eyeing a reprise of those events.
That August 3 occasion saw the Reds stun one of the favourites for promotion alongside Leeds, but Stendel believes that tomorrow’s visitors will be more clued up.
Head coach Stendel, who says that his research on Leeds has taken in watching the club’s Take Us Home documentary, said: “It is a little bit of a difficult situation as Fulham had been relegated from the Premier League and did not really know what to expect.
“Leeds know it and we know what we can expect from Leeds. But we have a chance to surprise.”
On pitting his wits against Marcelo Bielsa, the German added: “I watched the Leeds documentary and I get more impressions about him and this club.
“I also remember when he trained the national team at Chile and the way his team played was really good.
“There are very similar things to what we want here.”
Despite Barnsley’s lowly position, Bielsa – close to a full-strength squad with Luke Ayling and Tyler Roberts nearing a return – believes his side will be handed a stiff examination and feels the Reds are in a false position in the Championship table.
Bielsa observed: “We have never faced a team like this one – it is a different type of team, they press high and they run a lot.
“The position they have in the table is not linked with the style of play they show. This team is built to play moving the ball in a good way. I do not know the manager, but the team speaks for him and the team shows new things.”
Previews: Pages 2-3