Huddersfield Town v Middlesbrough: Cranie happy to tackle pressing matters for Town under German

Huddersfield Town's Martin Cranie
Huddersfield Town's Martin Cranie
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It’s good to talk. Or text. And Martin Cranie has been doing plenty of both lately thanks to the interest his fellow footballlers are showing in Huddersfield Town.

The arrival of Jurgen Klopp’s right-hand man from Borussia Dortmund has captured the imagination of not only Terriers supporters.

Adam Clayton in action against Norwich. (Picture: Tom Collins)

Adam Clayton in action against Norwich. (Picture: Tom Collins)

Others with little or no link to the John Smith’s Stadium are just as fascinated at how David Wagner will fare in his attempts to import ‘gegenpressing’ and the ways of the Bundesliga to West Yorkshire. As Town defender Cranie discovered almost from the very moment the German’s appointment was confirmed earlier this month.

“My mates at other clubs have all been asking about what it is like at Huddersfield Town now,” said the 29-year-old when speaking to The Yorkshire Post earlier this week ahead of a training session at Canalside.

“Everyone knows the gaffer worked with Jurgen Klopp so are interested as to what he is like and what he does with us.

“It is usually the first question they ask. Not how I am doing or anything like that. Just what the new gaffer is like.

Huddersfield Town versus Middlesbrough

Huddersfield Town versus Middlesbrough

“That is a big change for the club but a positive one. People want to know what is happening at Huddersfield Town. It is great for the club to be noticed.

“Everyone seems to be talking about us and wanting to see how we do... and what the manager does behind the scenes.”

Wagner’s reign began with a week at a training camp in Spain where he outlined the ideals behind the pressing system that brought success to Dortmund under Klopp.

Double sessions abounded, as did time in the classroom as the 44-year-old outlined how Huddersfield would play under him.

Once back in England, training was moved to the afternoon due to Wagner seeing this as the optimum time to prepare his players for a match-day.

When asked what his mates at other clubs make of the switch away from the norm in football of training being over by lunchtime and players having the afternoons free, Cranie smiles before adding: “Most of them can’t believe it when I say we train at 3pm each day.

“They laugh about it. I get pictures sent of them relaxing at home after training, knowing I am on my way in. It is good fun.

“To be honest, it is completely different to what all the Huddersfield lads have done in the past. I am sitting here with you now about to go out training after spending the morning at home.

“That isn’t how most managers do things. But this is what the manager wants and the lads are fully behind him. Plus, we are used to it now and it is starting to feel normal.

“To be fair, the lads are adapting well to everything that has been brought in. I have found it really refreshing.

“No disrespect to the other manager and we were trying our best for him. But things weren’t working out too well so the club made that change. And the lads are buying into everything that the new gaffer is doing.”

Wagner’s bow as Town head coach ended in defeat at Sheffield Wednesday a week ago. There were, however, plenty of promising aspects to Huddersfield’s display.

Against a team that had been beaten just once in 13 games, the Terriers led until the 78th minute before being hit by a devastating late burst of three goals from the Owls.

Town’s style had, as expected, been overhauled by Wagner and Cranie feels there is plenty to build on going into today’s visit of high-flying Middlesbrough.

“We were excited when we heard the gaffer was coming in,” said the defender who joined from Barnsley in the summer. “We knew there would be a change in the style of football we would play.

“We had seen how Borussia Dortmund play and thought it would be along those lines. It has been completely different to anything I have played in my career.

“There is a lot of high-intensity training. And it has been very hard, I would expect all the lads to say that. We have to get our fitness as high as possible because there is a lot of pressing involved, and especially higher up the pitch.

“Whereas normally at other clubs the priority is getting back in shape and men behind the ball, we do it differently.

“Our philosophy is that we have to win the ball back higher up the pitch so we have a better chance of catching them on the counter-attack.”

Such a drastic change in approach means teething problems are inevitable, as Wednesday’s late flurry of goals at Hillsborough proved.

But, in time, Cranie is adamant that Wagner’s side will be one that supporters enjoy to watch.

“It is going to take time,” added the defender, whose only previous experience playing under a foreign coach came in Southampton’s youth team.

“Coming in during the season means things can’t be changed overnight. A lot of work has to be done by all of us to make it happen how he wants it to.

“Spain was massively important. We did a lot of hard work out there, trying to squeeze in what he normally does in a pre-season to four or five days.

“Obviously, it would have been better to have those five or six weeks. Instead, we have to squeeze it in among games. And the Championship is so relentless, Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday most weeks.

“The key is improving each week, as we all know it isn’t perfect yet. As a team, we have to know the right time to press.

“We can’t do it as individuals. If only a few press, they will be picked off. We have to get to the point where we know when we will do it on the pitch. If a few go, everyone goes.

“But we are getting there. We did well against Sheffield Wednesday for 70-80 minutes but then got a bit leggy and lost our shape a bit. We can’t afford to do that.

“Wednesday are a good side and had some good players to bring on. But we were comfortable until those latter stages. What we have to do now is take that further forward against Middlesbrough.

“If we do that, we have a good chance. The lads are enjoying it and, once we properly nail down the way the gaffer wants us to play, we will be exciting to watch.”