PRE-SEASON was always going to be huge for Huddersfield Town this year.
I still know there is a lot to do. I told the lads at half-time (against Rochdale) that I was not dissatisfied because I know that the first weeks bring the most fatigue but still I saw our patterns.Jan Siewert
So said Paul Jewell, the only other manager in the Premier League era to truly understand the size of the task facing Jan Siewert in the wake of a relegation that was confirmed with a mammoth six games still to play.
The Liverpudlian had been in exactly the same position 11 years earlier following the demotion of his Derby County side.
Like Siewert when succeeding David Wagner last January, Jewell had taken charge midway through an already desperate top-flight campaign and been unable to halt the slide. And like Siewert, Jewell had to try and pick up the pieces back in the Championship.
It is why The Yorkshire Post sought the former Bradford City manager’s counsel last spring. “I look at Huddersfield and think what will be really, really important is pre-season,” he said back then. “Lose the first game and all the doom and gloom come flooding back.
“Huddersfield have to win that first pre-season game, and then take it into the next. After what has happened this season, any rebuild will have to be a gradual one.”
In terms of Town hopefully avoiding the pitfalls that saw Derby finish a disappointing 18th on their return to the second tier after relegation in 2008, it is a case of ‘so far, so good’.
Four pre-season outings have yielded three wins and a draw. The most recent of those friendlies, their first game on English soil, saw League One Rochdale beaten 3-1 on Wednesday night to leave Terriers head coach Siewert satisfied with the progress being made.
“I can see them on the pitch and I am very pleased with the performances,” said the German, whose side spent last week at a training camp in Austria.
“But I still know there is a lot to do. I told the lads at half-time (against Rochdale) that I was not dissatisfied because I know that the first weeks bring the most fatigue but still I saw our patterns.
“The chances we created did not lead to goals. I said at half-time, ‘Keep going like this and you will score’. That proved to be the case.
“Now, we have another game not for the public because I want to try something. The other team (of players) that did not play at Rochdale will play in that one.
“It is important we stick to the patterns. The defensive patterns worked and, in the end, we created so many chances.
“We now have the idea of how we play going forward. But we stay calm. This is just one result.”