HUDDERSFIELD TOWN captain Tommy Smith believes Premier League survival will allow the club to “step up to the next level”.
The Terriers secured their top-flight status on Wednesday night with a battling point at outgoing champions Chelsea.
Following on from holding the newly-crowned champions Manchester City to a goalless draw last Sunday it capped not just a remarkable few days, but also a season that has seen head coach David Wagner’s men defy the odds once again.
By remaining in the elite for 2018-19 Huddersfield will bag another £100m-plus windfall from TV money alone and Smith believes this will ensure the club continues to grow under the astute stewardship of chairman Dean Hoyle.
“Going forward, this is huge,” said Smith to The Yorkshire Post. “This allows the club to move forward again, make that step up to the next level.
“The chairman, I am sure, will assess what happens next. I saw him after the final whistle, he was totally delighted, overjoyed, which is only right considering the effort he puts into this club.
“He deserves every bit of praise that is coming his way. He and the manager will assess it and decide what happens next.”
The financial rewards that come with being in the top flight will allow Town to push on with work to upgrade further their Canalside training complex.
Recruitment will also be a big feature of the summer as Town benefit from giving themselves a head start by securing safety with a game to spare.
“It was tough to be so far behind everyone else last season in terms of recruitment (due to not being promoted until May 29),” added Smith.
“More for the management, really, so I imagine this will be a big help as it means they can strengthen earlier.”
Town, written off by the pundits from almost the moment promotion had been sealed at Wembley a year ago, will round off their season with a home gane agianst Arsenal on Sunday.
Just what condition the players will be in remains to be seen, the squad having cancelled the scheduled flight home on Wednesday night in order to travel by coach and celebrate with a few drinks.
Another change of plan, however, saw the Town players hit the capital after it emerged the coach driver had already used up his permitted hours.
Going forward, this is huge. This allows the club to move forward again, make that step up to the next level.Huddersfield’s Tommy Smith
The squad headed to Chinawhite, a nightclub in central London, to party before then catching the first train north to Yorkshire from King’s Cross at around 6am yesterday.
“I do not care for one second about the game on Sunday,” was elated left-back Chris Lowe’s assessment when speaking in the immediate aftermath of Wednesday’s 1-1 draw. “Honestly, it doesn’t matter for both teams. Just celebrate as long as we can.”
Even allowing for each place in the final table being worth an extra £2m in prize money – Town can finish between 15th and 17th, worth £12m and £8m respectively – even the most hard-headed of accountants surely would not begrudge the Terriers their big night out amid the bright lights of London or having two days off.
By staying up against all the odds, Town struck a blow for football romantics everywhere.
“Nights don’t really get a lot better,” added Smith. “An amazing feeling. It was a football miracle last season for us to get promoted and we have now done it again. We are defying all the odds, which is something we love to do.
“Everyone keeps writing us off, but we keep responding. We do that by sticking together. We battle through and that is what this club is all about.”
Charismatic Wagner, who has so transformed the footballing landscape in Yorkshire since arriving in November 2015, rightly basked in the glow of his success during emotional post-match scenes at Stamford Bridge.
Given the ‘bumps’ in front of the elated Town fans by his players, Wagner was the very picture of happiness.
What Town’s success has also done is raise his managerial stock even further. Several clubs have already tried – and failed – to lure Wagner away from Huddersfield and there can be little doubt that this interest will only increase this summer.
Leicester City are understood to be keen on Wagner replacing Claude Puel at the KP Stadium while Borussia Dortmund, where the German cut his managerial teeth when in charge of the reserves under Jurgen Klopp, are also understood to be circling.
Town are determined to rebuff all potential suitors with captain Smith revealing just how integral a cog the manager has been in the club’s footballing machine.
“The manager has been massive since he first walked through the door,” said the full-back, who moved to the John Smith’s in 2013.
“He has taken this club to another level. Straight away the players bought into what he wanted to do. The chairman backed him and he deserves a massive amount of praise for the job he has done at the club.
“He is the main voice in the dressing room and he keeps us on an even keel, even when the results are going against us.
“He makes it clear to us during these bad patches that we have to stay together and stick to how he wants us to play.”
It hasn’t sunk in yet, says Terriers’ Schindler: Page 24