DAVID WAGNER regards Huddersfield Town’s promotion to the Premier League and Leicester City’s title win as the two big fairytales of English football in recent years.
Both were successes achieved very much against the odds, something that saw the nation get behind the underdog and will them over the line.
Grading the respective size of each upset is not something Wagner chooses to do, as he made clear yesterday when asked to do so by The Yorkshire Post. “You have more experience of English football, what do you say?” was his reply.
The reply ‘Leicester’ may not have been quite the expected response but on the subject of whether those past triumphs will have any bearing on tomorrow’s meeting at the John Smith’s Stadium, Wagner was unequivocal.
“The fairytales are over,” said the 45-year-old ahead of taking on the Foxes in front of a sell-out crowd.
“Now we are in the reality, and that is Huddersfield Town versus Leicester City on Saturday at the John Smith’s Stadium, and we will be there.
“Of course, I like the story of Leicester City and the story of Jamie Vardy. This is a club you have to like. This does not change on Saturday because Leicester are our opponent but we want to be successful against them.”
Wagner was angry with the manner of his side’s attacking performance in their last outing, the 2-0 defeat at West Ham United.
Town, their head coach said, had made too many unforced errors at the London Stadium and looked nervous. His point was made forcibly in the dressing room afterwards and a reaction is expected tomorrow against the 2016 champions.
Training this week has been focused on the very different challenge that Leicester will pose compared to West Ham, who put a big emphasis on getting the ball forward early for Andy Carroll to utilise his aerial prowess.
Vardy’s pace is one major facet of the visitors’ game that Town will have to be especially aware of as they look to bounce back from that first loss of the season against a team who sit third bottom after a tough run of fixtures to start the season.
“I am far away from judging Leicester and we should not judge them on their results,” said Wagner when asked about the Foxes having taken three points from a quartet of fixtures that included trips to Arsenal and Manchester United plus a home clash with Chelsea.
“It makes no sense. We should judge Leicester on their game plan, which is a very good one, on their individuals, where they have very good ones, and on their team quality, where they have a good one. This is what we do.
“This is the first opponent that we play that has this threat of speed in behind, and for this we have to find solutions.
“We are aware of what is in front of us and I think we will be prepared. We know exactly what we have to avoid so they are not able to show their strength. If we can transfer the theory into practice then I am very confident that we are able to be capable.”
Kasey Palmer being ruled out potentially to the New Year with a recurrence of the hamstring injury that kept the playmaker on the sidelines for four months last season is a blow.
Tom Ince has started the last three league games in the number 10 role and is expected to continue tomorrow despite facing competition from new signing Abdelhamid Sabiri.
Collin Quaner is back in the squad after recovering from a knee injury suffered in the friendly against German club Altona 93 during the international break, while Jonathan Hogg and Martin Cranie are also back in full training.
Steve Mounie had to sit out yesterday’s session after sustaining a knock in the West Ham defeat but he is expected to re-join his team-mates today and be fit to lead the attack.