AT the end of a week in which Huddersfield Town’s home celebrated its 25th anniversary, Christopher Schindler lining up against Reading somehow feels apt.
The German defender’s place in Terriers modern-day folklore is assured thanks to scoring ‘that’ penalty at Wembley against the Royals to bring top-flight football back to the town for the first time in 45 years.
It is a moment guests arriving at the stadium reception today will not be able to escape, thanks to a giant image staring back at them of the moment Schindler connects with a spot-kick that was destined for the bottom corner of Al-Ali Habsi’s net from the second the ball left his right boot.
Twenty-seven or so months on from that shoot-out victory under the Arch and Town face Reading once again. The mood, however, could not be more contrasting with Jan Siewert already having paid for a poor start with his job that means the newly-relegated Yorkshire side sit just one place off the foot of the fledgling Championship table.
“The first games can be difficult,” Schindler told The Yorkshire Post when asked about the lingering effects of relegation. “But if we perform well, we will win games.
We can make life way easier for ourselves if we do certain things. We analyse this during the week. Every game is different but we need to find the common ground that we can all do. This is developing.Christopher Schindler
“I know that because we have the quality. We know we have to turn this around. We need to get this self-belief into the players.
“This does not come from us getting relegated because we have a lot of new players. It is not so much a case of getting the relegation out of our head but the doubts. The fear of making a mistake.”
Individual errors, together with a tendency for shoulders to slump after a setback, have been a feature of Huddersfield’s return to the Championship after those two years among the elite.
So, too, has been a tendency to concede late goals with the last three defeats all coming thanks to the opposition scoring in the final 10 minutes.
This points towards a team still reeling from last season’s relegation, confirmed with a joint-record for the Premier League era of six games still to play.
Lifting those spirits will not be easy. That task falls to Mark Hudson, in temporary charge following Siewert’s departure. His first game ended in the familiar feeling of defeat, an 88th-minute strike by Cardiff City’s Junior Hoilett on Wednesday night meaning it was a miserable trip back from south Wales.
The loss to Neil Warnock’s men means Town have won just four of their last 55 competitive fixtures. It is a horrendous run and one whose impact can be seen both on the pitch and in the stands when something goes against the club, as an air of resignation sets in.
Considering the misery of the past year, this should not come as a surprise. Schindler, though, knows this mindset must change and fast.
“In the supporters’ minds, it is just human to think like that,” he says when asked about this deflation setting in when things go against Town.
“You go 1-0 down and you expect things to be better. That brings frustration and expectation is growing. That is absolutely fair. It should be like that.
“It is important to understand that we have to do more. We are capable of doing better. I know that and I know this squad.
“There have been a lot of changes but the quality of the squad is good. We have to show that. In our situation, we need results to make this belief stronger – and bring back the mentality of winning games.”
Hudson opted for a 4-2-3-1 formation for his return to former club Cardiff with Alex Pritchard in the number 10 role and a similar set-up is expected against the Royals.
Trevoh Chalobah’s first goal on loan from Chelsea was a plus from the night, as was Frazier Campbell coming off the bench late on for his debut after joining his home-town club as a free agent the previous week.
Both will be hoping to help Huddersfield banish one of the stranger statistics that have sprung up in the wake of the club’s miserable second season in the Premier League.
Town failed to win any of their 27 games staged on a Saturday during the 2018-19 campaign. In fact, the last time the Terriers ended the traditional weekend match-day with a maximum three points was in April, 2018, when a stoppage-time strike by Tom Ince was enough to beat Watford.
“I did not know that one about Saturday,” said Schindler when asked by this newspaper about ending such a long run. “This is the first time I have heard it. The easiest way to not listen to this sort of thing is to turn it off by winning games.
“Easier said than done, I know. But that is the way out of it. Get the wins and get the points. I did not mind a point at QPR, when we last played (on a Saturday).
“But what I did not like was how we were pressed by them from half-time onwards. That is where we have to show we can get a result, even if we do not play good.
“We can make life way easier for ourselves if we do certain things. We analyse this during the week. Every game is different but we need to find the common ground that we can all do. This is developing.
“Norwich started slow last season and look where they went. They won the league. I am not saying we have to play for promotion. I do not know if we can turn this around.
“We may win games and then stop in six weeks. Nothing is guaranteed in football. But we have a quality squad and we are playing under what we are capable of doing.
“We have to be honest to ourselves. If we win games, tell me the statistics but I do not care.”