HEAD COACH David Wagner last night described Huddersfield Town slipping out of the play-off places for the first time this season as “irrelevant”.
The Terriers have taken just five points from their last eight outings to tumble from top spot in the Championship down to eighth.
It has led to suggestions from pundits and rival fans alike that Town’s hopes of promotion are fading badly, but Wagner does not agree.
Instead, the 45-year-old believes the fact there is still well over half the season still to play means things can change very quickly.
“I am aware of the table and what three points could do this Saturday,” said the German ahead of tomorrow’s home clash with Bristol City.
“I was also aware of when we were top of the table or in the top six. But, to me, these are irrelevant.
“The only time that the league table matters is at the end of the season after 46 games. We are only part way into the season.
“We have 30 points at the moment and that is what we deserved because we have it. We have to accept it, but this is not the end.
“We are still hungry and greedy to get more points and that is what we are trying to do, starting Saturday.”
Just one win in those past eight games – and even then it took a last-minute winner from Elias Kachunga to earn all three points at home to Derby County – has left Huddersfield’s season in need of an urgent lift.
Despite five of those last eight games having been lost, Wagner added: “I have not seen any difference in our confidence or belief during this run. None at all. The players – and people could see this last weekend (in the 1-1 draw at Blackburn) – are still very confident and trust each other.
“Of course, they are disappointed by results. We play as a team and we want to win as a team. We want points on the table.
“But there is no reason to be less confident about our play. The performances have been too strong for that.
“We are struggling on little details, such as making the most of all these great opportunities in offence. But we still believe in each other, totally. We just need to get back the luck we need to win football matches.”
Spurned opportunities in front of goal and individual mistakes at the back have combined to cause the recent slump in form.
Wagner accepts improvements need to be made in both respects, but is keen to stress that his side’s overall performances have been good. He is also adamant that if Town can continue in this vein then their luck will turn.
“It is more disappointing than frustrating that we haven’t got the points we deserved,” he said.
“I would be frustrated if the players had not been able to follow the plan. If they do and try everything, but we don’t get the result, then that is disappointment.
“I worry about not winning football matches when we have the chance to do so, like last week. We had a great opportunity to win at Blackburn.
“But, since the first day I arrived, I have said that the first and second focus has to be on how we play, to perform in terms of our identity, that we are strong enough to bring our identity against whichever opponent we are facing on the grass.
“Then, we have to make sure we win the football matches. I am totally happy with how we performed in the last games.
“We worry about the results, of course. But one reason is we didn’t score when we had chances. And we gave goals away too easily.
“The main focus stays on how we perform. We have to make sure we know what we have to do and that we are very tight on our ideas.
“You change slight things in your training programme, depending on the opponent you play against, and during the period where we struggled with defensive set-pieces. That was our focus.
“Now, we have a feeling we are back at our strength in those situations. We have to focus on our game.
“The results have not been good enough and that makes us unhappy. But the performances were good.”
Town’s poor form since the October international break has led to supporters speculating as to what needs to be done to rectify matters in January when the transfer window opens.
Wagner and chairman Dean Hoyle regularly discuss the club’s recruitment plans for the new year.
While not wanting to be drawn on what those plans are, the Town head coach did admit the pair’s thinking is very similar.
He said: “Dean is strong enough connected in this business and football intelligent enough that he sees exactly which position maybe needs some more quality.
“I don’t have to go to Dean. We are always in contact and in conversation on this.”