FINDING an upside to the travails endured by Huddersfield Town last season when slipping out of the Premier League is not easy.
The Terriers won just three times, scored a paltry 22 goals and were relegated in record equalling time.
Elias Kachunga, the club’s DR Congo international, featured in more than half of Huddersfield’s 38 league outings so is well aware of just how bad things got at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Going forward, however, the 27-year-old believes this annus horribilis may yet work in Town’s favour on their return to the Championship.
“Last season will maybe see everyone under-rate us a little bit,” suggested Kachunga to The Yorkshire Post.
Flying under the radar certainly worked in the club’s favour during the 2016-17 campaign.
With all the attention focused elsewhere on relegated duo Newcastle United and Aston Villa or fallen giants such as Leeds United, Sheffield Wednesday and Wolverhampton Wanderers, David Wagner’s Terriers clinched promotion via the play-offs.
Kachunga, then on loan from FC Ingolstadt 04, played a key role, finishing the season as top scorer with 12 goals.
“We have a few young lads but there are a lot of experienced players here who have already played in the Championship,” he added. “We will give everything to get back to winning ways.
“Then, we see how the season goes. In the Championship, 100 per cent we will try and battle for first place.
“It is hard to say if the league is more competitive than before. There are so many games, week in and week out.
“Already, our start involves six or seven games in the first month. Straight away, that is a hard period. Everyone knows how hard it is so we prepare ourselves as well as we can.”
With Jan Siewert experiencing his first pre-season at Huddersfield alongside new assistant Colin Bell and Phil Hodgkinson still settling in as chairman, hopes are high that a line can be drawn under that dreadful final season among the elite.
“It is a new start,” said Kachunga. “It was important for everyone to have this fresh, new start after the break. Just to clear the head and start again from zero.
“This is a new season. Everyone enjoyed the break but now we are back and there has been some new input. We have a new manager, a new assistant and a new chairman.
“For everyone it is good to have this new mind. Now, it is all about hard work.“
Kachunga was on the scoresheet in Wednesday’s 3-1 friendly win at League One outfit Rochdale. It was an impressive finish, his bullet header giving goalkeeper Brad Wade no chance.
He added: “For everyone, it was a dream to play in the Premier League. If you play there once, you want to go back. Everyone has to work hard to go as quickly as possible back to this league.”
Meanwhile, Town’s fans are breathing easier after it was confirmed the ‘sash’ new kit with sponsor Paddy Power exmblazoned across the front is a prank. The club will sport blue and white stripes next season with no sponsor.