MARK HUDSON is no stranger to having to impress a new boss.
The experienced defender did, after all, join Huddersfield Town when the club was still searching for Mark Robins’s successor – a quirk of timing that meant his debut almost a fortnight later also turned out to be Chris Powell’s bow in the home dugout at the John Smith’s Stadium.
So, when Hudson leads the Terriers out today ahead of the televised derby clash against Leeds United, the knowledge that head coach-in-waiting David Wagner will be watching from the main stand is not something that will faze the defender.
Instead, Hudson will see the presence of the German as a chance to lay down an early marker for the future.
“I have been in this position before at other clubs,” said Hudson ahead of Town’s first outing since the surprise dismissal of Powell after 14 months at the helm.
“Some of the other lads at Huddersfield are in the same position as me, some aren’t. So, it will be a new experience for those lads and they will have to adapt to it.
“Whenever a manager changes, it can come as a surprise. But it happens at football clubs a lot. There isn’t a good time or a bad time, it just happens.
“It is down to the club to deal with that (the fallout of a manager leaving) and for us players to do the same. David Wagner is coming in and that is great.
“The new head coach will be at the game and then take charge on Monday. Football throws things at you and what it does mean is that this is a clean slate.
“What I will say, though, is that I try to impress day in and day out. I do my best all the time, whoever is manager. We all have to do that going forward.”
Powell’s dismissal came in the wake of a battling 2-2 draw at Reading that left Town sitting 18th in the Championship table.
Results, though, are not why the former England international will be in London this weekend as his former charges take on Leeds this lunchtime.
Instead, the Town hierarchy made the change in an attempt to take the club in a new direction. Or, more pertinently, a direction that they hoped Powell would embark on himself by showing more faith in the club’s youngsters.
In that respect, Wagner seems a perfect fit with the mindset of the Huddersfield board. In four years overseeing the reserve team at Borussia Dortmund, the German-born former USA international brought through the likes of Erik Durm, Jonas Hofmann, Marian Sarr and Marvin Ducksch.
Town are hoping for a similar impact at a club where Philip Billing, Flo Bojaj, William Boyle and Duane Holmes have all been on the bench lately but had little time on the pitch.
Hudson, for his part, is looking forward to working with a head coach who worked so closely with Jurgen Klopp during his time at Dortmund.
“We had a long trip back from Reading,” said the Town captain, “and then woke up to the news on Wednesday morning that the gaffer had gone.
“All I know about the new man is what I have read. A lot was made of Klopp going to Liverpool so a lot has been circulating about him through that. He worked with Klopp and played with him.
“It will be new, it will be a change and we have to go in with open minds. We will embrace whatever we are asked to do. That is what every player has to do. We take on board what is asked of us and then take it out on to the pitch.
“The head coach role is a direction clubs are going in these days. It seems to be more of how things are done in football.
“It gives the owners a chance to look at things from a top tier sort of view.
“And the head coach a chance to pick the team and work with the team.”
Wagner’s presence in the directors’ box today is certain to generate lots of interest, most notably from the Sky cameras during the satellite station’s live broadcast.
For Town fans, however, a need to get one over their local rivals will be just as important as catching a glimpse of the German.
Leeds claimed a league double over the Terriers last season for the first time since 1939.
The second of those defeats came at the John Smith’s in heart-breaking fashion, as Billy Sharp netted a last gasp winner.
Hudson played in both derby losses – Town also lost 3-0 at Elland Road in September – and is looking forward to making amends today.
“Derbies are great,” said the defender.
“As a player, you have to cherish these games. They don’t come around too often. For us, to get one over our local rivals would be great.
“It is a big game, regardless of past results. We know that. We want those three points off our local rivals.
“The atmosphere will be massive. There will be lots of intensity. A fresh start for everyone and a platform to go and show what we can do.
“We really want to get the points. That is our focus. Form goes out the window in these games but I did feel we played really well on Tuesday night.
“I know we have a few injuries and a few knocks. But that is the Championship and this is our opportunity to put our bodies on the line in front of the Sky cameras.
“Leeds was tough last year. Any defeat to a rival is tough to take, especially as we know what it means to the fans and the club.”