DAVID WAGNER now believes rather than hopes Huddersfield Town will survive in the Premier League.
The Terriers, back in the top flight after a 45-year absence, were made odds-on favourite to be relegated almost from the moment Christopher Schindler clinched promotion at Wembley last May with ‘that’ penalty.
Town, however, have proved the doubters wrong with an encouraging start to life back among the elite.
Yorkshire’s sole representative in the top flight heads to Watford today sitting 12th in the table with 18 points from 17 outings and Wagner has seen enough to truly believe his side can beat the drop against all the odds.
“I now have belief instead of the hope I had before the season,” he said. “What makes me so confident is how the players reacted to results.
“They accepted this (the possibility of suffering setbacks) and continued to work.
“The players are able to leave in the past what is in the past. That is exactly what we have to do.”
Huddersfield’s mid table position owes everything to their form at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Fourteen of their 18-points haul have come on home soil, with Town’s troubles on the road today leaving Wagner’s men in danger of setting a new unwanted club record.
The 2-0 defeat to Everton at Goodison Park a fortnight ago was the seventh away league game without a goal – a run the club last endured in 1988.
We will try anything to get a result. To also score goals and make it as uncomfortable as possible.Huddersfield Town coach, David Wagner
Another blank at Vicarage Road will, therefore, see a new entry written in the history books.
No-one among the Terriers squads wants that, though Wagner insists that the topic has not featured in any pre-match talk among the players and coaching staff.
“This is something that isn’t nice but it is not a major theme in our dressing room,” added the 46-year-old German.
“If we have one great advantage at our football club it is that we are very stable and there is great togetherness.
“We also have great support home and away and maybe we can use this advantage.”
Town are likely to face Richarlison this afternoon after one of the standout Premier League performers of the season was declared fit despite being withdrawn from Watford’s midweek defeat at Crystal Palace with groin trouble.
The Hornets have come in for plenty of praise this season, as has head coach Marco Silva with the former Hull City chief wanted by Everton before the Merseysiders turned to Sam Allardyce.
Recently, however, results have tailed off with six of their last nine games having ended in defeat – including three in four outings.
“We will try anything to get a result,” added Wagner, whose side are also on the road next week to Southampton. “To also score goals and make it as uncomfortable as possible.
“We are aware our away record is not the best one so it is time to change this. It will not be easy, as Watford and Leicester are the top two teams outside of the top six.”
As with the top flight, the Football League is closing in on the halfway mark of the season and all but Sheffield Wednesday of the county’s nine representatives are in action today.
Leeds United, sitting directly below the play-off places, host Norwich City hoping to narrow the gap on Sheffield United, who travel to Preston North End.
Barnsley head to Brentford on the back of a six-game winless run, while Middlesbrough take on Millwall.
Hull City, meanwhile, head to Cardiff City for the tea-time clash that will put Nigel Adkins against Neil Warnock, who admitted yesterday to having once applied for the manager’s post at the KCOM Stadium.
“I have known Nigel for a long time,” said the Bluebirds’ chief. “He has done very well and is looking forward to the challenge at a big club I once tried to become manager of. Unsuccessfully, I might add.”
Promotion chasing Bradford City head to Southend United in League One looking to extend the country’s most impressive away record, Stuart McCall’s men having claimed 22 points from 10 away assignments. Rotherham United host Plymouth Argyle as Doncaster Rovers tackle Oldham at the Keepmoat.