NEW Huddersfield Town head coach Jan Siewert says that his opening game in charge at home to Everton this evening will represent the biggest moment of his career to date.
The 36-year-old, appointed as David Wagner’s successor eight days ago, will be introduced to Town fans ahead of kick-off with the home faithful pinning their hopes on the German galvanising the club in the same way as did his compatriot over time.
Siewert’s immediate task of somehow hauling the club out of the Premier League relegation zone looks a formidable one with rock-bottom Terriers effectively 11 points adrift of safety and having suffered nine defeats in a desperate ten-match winless streak in the top flight.
Despite his new club having endured a grim campaign thus far, Siewert – a former Borussia Dortmund second-team coach like Wagner – remains positive about the task in hand and retains confidence in his attempt to instigate a much-needed change of fortunes.
Questioned on whether tonight’s game will be the pinnacle of his time in football so far, Siewert said: “So far, definitely yes. I cannot wait for this game.
“I have been to the stadium once during a game and I am really looking forward to the atmosphere there because I have seen the fans at this club are very special and they give a certain atmosphere. That is why I am excited to have my first game there.
“I do not focus on any pressure. It is a football game and at the moment we are not in a comfortable situation and we try everything to get out of it.”
Siewert has acknowledged that the club’s recent four-day training camp in Portugal was an invaluable experience for him in terms of getting to know his players on a personal level and conveying his footballing philosophies to them.
The head coach refused to divulge what sort of style Town supporters can expect from his side when they take the field tonight, but hinted at some changes in the club’s playing ethos.
Siewert, who confirmed that key midfielder Aaron Mooy is “close” to a first-team return – having been out since December 8 with a knee problem – said: “It was very useful (in Portugal).
“Not just to talk about football, but getting to know the players and their thoughts and way of thinking. I saw their togetherness.
“This has combined with the work we have done on the pitch. As I said at the beginning I do not like to be compared and do not want to go back. The only thing is I have started a process now and the players have got my ideas very quickly and are open-minded and that is what I am focusing on.”
Town’s obvious deficiencies this season has been scoring goals with just five goals scored in 12 home league matches so far in 2018-19.
All told Huddersfield have won just three league matches on home soil in almost a year.
Despite their own vicissitudes, Town face an Everton side who have plenty of issues of their own this evening, with pressure growing on the Toffees’ manager and former Hull City head coach Marco Silva following Saturday’s FA Cup fourth-round elimination at Millwall.
Defender Chris Lowe believes that the Terriers must be braced for an angry reaction from the 11th-placed Merseyside club, while accepting that the stakes are high for Town with daunting matches against Chelsea and Arsenal on the horizon.
Lowe said: “This is for sure a bigger chance than in the two following games.
“We have to get a win as soon as possible. We are ten points away from safety and that just shows how important it is to get three points.
“They (Everton) will be angry about their defeat on Saturday and will play with pressure, for sure. But they are a team with really good players and we have to be at our best level to have any chance of beating them.”
On the impact of Siewert and alluding to a possible style change in footballing ethos as Town seek to improve their lamentable goalscoring record at home, the German full-back added: “He is a positive and good character and tries to give us as much confidence as he can give us.
“He has spoken a lot about his philosophy to play forward.
“It was really important to get his idea in our heads and get used to a different style of football.
“It is hard mentally for our strikers and offensive players, for sure. Everyone speaks about it that we cannot score and have problems in our offensive game.
“It can pull you down a bit, but we have a fresh start with the manager and hopefully we can see some changes and score some goals.”
Town are understood to be close to securing the signing of highly-rated Charlton Athletic striker Karlan Grant.
Grant, 21, has impressed in League One for the Addicks this season, scoring 14 goals in 28 league games, and his form has brought him to the attention of a number of clubs in higher divisions.
Tonight’s game comes too soon for midfielder Philip Billing (knee).
Last six games: Huddersfield LLLLDL Everton LLWWLL.
Referee: S Attwell (Warwickshire).
Last time: Huddersfield 0 Everton 2; April 28, 2018; Premier League.