BREEZING into Huddersfield Town’s pre-match press conference on Monday lunch-time with a warm smile and a firm handshake to awaiting journalists, Jan Siewert’s body language betrayed that of a head coach who has won just one of his opening 17 matches in charge.
If he was feeling any inner tension, he plainly did not show it and if it was a deliberate attempt to keep the pressure away from his players who are craving the exhilaration that you only get from winning football matches – but have almost forgotten what it feels like to win – it was admirable in the circumstances.
Two games into the new season and the Terriers are still awaiting the relieving balm of a first victory with 2019 continuing to prove an annus horribilis.
For the German, it is a very much a case of what does not kill you, makes you stronger and he is approaching back-to-back home games with Lincoln City and Fulham with relish as opposed to trepidation. A situation to embrace and not shy away from.
Siewert was seven minutes away from registering a first away victory under his watch on Saturday, only for hosts QPR to inflict another cruel wound.
No win bonus, but an incremental step, in his view.
But when we go into these two home games, we should enjoy going into them, enjoy having the possession and enjoy to fight and bring the game over the line even if there is a commitment to defend.Jan Siewert
He said: “All we want to do is win. I am desperate to win and the team are as well.
“But when we go into these two home games, we should enjoy going into them, enjoy having the possession and enjoy to fight and bring the game over the line even if there is a commitment to defend.
“We progressed from the game against Derby and we stood up for 83 minutes and we really suffered in the last seven minutes. I am with them through this process.
“The next step after leading is keeping on going and finishing it. There will be steps – calm down and we get there – and it is important for me that we bring it over the line.”
A lack of game time will preclude Fraizer Campbell’s involvement this evening, but his arrival at his hometown club on a two-year deal with an option of third year represents a timely fillip.
A player who has emerged as a bonafide leader in his last two seasons across Yorkshire at Hull City, the striker, who turns 32 next month, is likely to become an important pillar in the Town dressing room as the club rebuilds confidence and belief after a harsh past 12 months.
Siewert said: “I like Huddersfield lads and I am very pleased he has signed for us. Now we have to get him going as he has missed a long time.
“I really had to work as a player who is free always has interest from other clubs. The decision he has made really makes me proud as he knows what these people here are about and he knows what I want from him and what I want from the team.
“He is committed to it and I really like to work with players with experience. It is a good signing for us and I am really looking forward to working with him.”
Mindful of an appointment with Fulham on Friday night, Siewert is likely to hand opportunities to the likes of Josh Koroma and Reece Brown this evening.
He is also not ruling out involvement for Rajiv van La Parra and Steve Mounie – yet to feature for Town this term, with sections of fans having already questioned their absence from the first two match-day squads.
“Of course, they have the right to ask it, which is clear,” observed Siewert.
“I cannot put Steve in after just having only two weeks holiday and a long tournament (Africa Cup of Nations) and a tough last season. He needs time and the same with Rajiv, he has not had much game practice in one year.
“Unfortunately he had very few minutes (on loan at Middlesbrough) and did not even have a full 90 minutes. I told him right from the pre-season that it will take him time to be the most competitive Rajiv he can be.
“We are working on that and he will be in the squad. There are players in my squad who want to start in the league and the cup is a possibility to show it. They are itching to start and deserve to and I will give them a go.”
One player who has been confirmed as a starter tonight is young goalkeeper and lifelong Town fan Ryan Schofield, who will make his senior debut.
Despite not turning 20 until December, the keeper has the discernible look of someone who possesses an old head on young shoulders, strengthened by his character-building experiences, during a 17-match loan spell at relegated Notts County last term.
He said: “It was a tough place to go with the problems the club were having.
“It would have been easy to say ‘you are 19, they are struggling, why have you gone there?’ It was a challenge, but for me, mental strength is a must for a keeper.”
Last six games: Huddersfield LLDDLD; Lincoln LDLLWW.
Referee: P Wright (Merseyside).
Last time: Huddersfield 2 Lincoln 2, May 19, 2004; Division Three play-offs.