IN a season when all the other clubs in the bottom seven of the Premier League have changed manager, head coach David Wagner believes stability has been key in Huddersfield Town’s quest for survival.
The Terriers host Crystal Palace today sitting four points above the dropzone. Considering how Yorkshire’s sole representatives in the top flight were written off by almost every pundit before a ball had been kicked, Town can be pleased with such a standing ahead of the all-important run-in.
“If we survive, Dean (Hoyle, owner) has done everything right,” quipped Wagner when asked about Town’s approach compared to the nine top-flight clubs who have sacked their manager this term.
“Seriously, I feel for every manager who does not get the opportunity to at least try to bring it to an end because we know the season has 38 games.
“If you reach your target at the end of the season no one cares where you are after 15 or 20 games.
“It is all about where you are at the end of the season. This is what we had in our head from day one when we met up for pre-season. It is all about staying up.
“Unfortunately this (sackings) is part of the game. Not only in the Premier League, but in other nations as well.
“This is maybe one of the advantages that we have had. From day one of pre-season we have only been focused and concentrated on our task of staying up.
“We are still on the way and this is why we have this confidence that we can reach our target.”
Southampton became the latest to make a change at the top this week when Mark Hughes succeeded Mauricio Pellegrino.
We lost a few football matches in a row at one stage. We did the same last season in the Championship. It is all about having realistic expectations and having a chairman who trusts and believes in you.David Wagner
The Saints will be hoping Hughes can follow the likes of Roy Hodgson, Carlos Carvalhal and Claude Puel in sparking an upturn in fortunes. The flipside, of course, is how badly West Brom have performed under Alan Pardew.
Wagner added: “For sure, every player searches for and hopes for stability and that they can do their work without all the rumours, which are in and around you when you lose football matches.
“We lost a few football matches in a row at one stage. We did the same last season in the Championship. It is all about having realistic expectations and having a chairman who trusts and believes in you.
“All of this is the case here at this football club. Even if we have a lot of disadvantages – and everyone is aware about all our disadvantages – stability is, for sure, one of the advantages that this football club has.”
Hoyle made clear publicly last summer that the man who brought top-flight football back to Huddersfield after 45 years would not be sacked even if the club’s campaign turned sour.
Town’s performances have since seen Wagner’s stock rise even further with Borussia Dortmund, his former club, the latest to be linked with a possible move for the German in the summer.
“I have another further year contract,” said the 46-year-old when asked about his own future. “Like always the March international break is the moment where we usually sit together and speak about one idea or another that we have in our heads regarding the football club, the (training) facility, the squad and the backroom staff.
“This is what always in the past was the case.
“We sit together and share thoughts, ideas, ambitions. Then we will work on it until the end of the season.
“It was difficult last year because before Wembley (the Championship play-off final) no one knew in which division we would be.
“This could be decided very late this season as well.
“But we are used to it. We are in such a totally relaxed, trustful relationship that we have had these conversations a few times. This will be the case again this year.”
Pressed on whether Wagner viewed himself as being a Premier League manager next season even if Town lose their battle for survival come May, Wagner replied: “This is no question I will answer because I have worked since pre-season day one that we survive.
“Now I cannot speak, or think, about the Championship. It makes totally no sense to get these thoughts into my head.”
As for today’s clash with Palace, where victory would open up a seven-point gap between the two clubs, Wagner added: “The atmosphere has to be extraordinary, something we have never seen before.”
Match Preview: Page 3.