Huddersfield Town v QPR: Squad harmony enables Town to get out in front of their rivals

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ASK most former professionals involved with feted sides of the past and chances are that they will pinpoint togetherness and esprit de corps as being right at the top when it comes to the secrets of their success.

That ‘mateship’, to use an Antipodean term, drives teams on through the metaphorical wind and rain of a nine-month season – collectively watching each others’ backs when you are under the pump in a game or situation.

Huddersfield Town's Tommy Smith, right. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Huddersfield Town's Tommy Smith, right. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

It is what you draw upon and explains why there is often a knowing and shared look in ex-players’ eyes when recounting successes at reunion events.

Those qualities, if you possess them, represent the equivalent of a precious ore, with comradeship being the bedrock of all top sides over the course of a marathon campaign. It has to endure or there will be a fracture.

Huddersfield Town may be only part way through what they hope will be a special season and time. But expect those welding links already forged to stay strong.

Whether English or German, a grafters’ mentality is a shared common strain throughout a Town squad which renders nationality as insignificant, according to one of the club’s honest foot-soldiers in Tommy Smith.

Huddersfield Town manager David Wagner has impressed with the way he has integrated the many new faces during the summer. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA.

Huddersfield Town manager David Wagner has impressed with the way he has integrated the many new faces during the summer. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA.

The defender’s statement that Huddersfield signed not just good players, but ‘good people’ during the close-season may not be the greatest revelation.

But in its own way, it explains everything, with players wanting to do well not just for themselves, but, crucially, each other.

Smith told The Yorkshire Post: “There is a real togetherness in the group and the manager has installed that in all of us.

“You need that during the course of a long, tough season. We need everyone to head in the right direction.

“We have a good team atmosphere and it is easy for new players to settle in. They are good people and good footballers.

“We obviously went to Sweden as a full team and it (bonding experience) did help with us helping each other to do various things.

“After that, when you get onto the football pitch, you learn to trust people more and know what their strengths and weaknesses are and it bodes well.

“The new signings all speak good English and the English lads fine them when they speak German! But they are making a big effort and interacting well, which is great.

“When the manager brought them in, he wanted them to come straight in and have a similar work ethic. They have hit the ground running and bought into what we do and made things easier.

“Sometimes, you can bring (foreign) players in and they do not want to do what the squad wants to do. But these lads have all bought into it and we want the same things.

“With so many foreign players, there could be problems and there will certainly be dressing rooms across the country that have these problems.

“But we certainly do not have any here and that stems from the manager. He wants us all to be a close bunch and we are.”

Given a wonderful club record start to the campaign for Town, who proudly and deservedly sit top of the Championship pile, the dressing room harmony is likely to be sky-high.

But do not let it be said that David Wagner’s side have not already shown their mettle. They did en route to chiselling out key results which were far from straightforward against the likes of Barnsley and Aston Villa. Not to mention Newcastle United.

After Tuesday’s narrow loss at Brighton, which ended the club’s marvellous unbeaten league start, Town will be drawing upon their reservoirs of character against QPR today – with the aim of passing yet another test with flying colours.

Smith added: “After the first league loss of the season, the natural reaction is to be disappointed. But the day after, it was straight back to business, simple as that. We cannot dwell on these things.

“We are certainly in a good place and still top of the league and playing some good football and have picked up some good results.

“It will be a big test of character, but that is what this league is about. We are at the top of the league because we have showed character and are doing things the right way.

“We all want to kick on and do well and as a team, we are all heading in the right direction and want the same things and I am sure we will get to where we want to be if we stick together.”

Looking ahead to today’s game with Rangers, humbled 6-0 in a club record home loss in midweek, Smith added: “It will be a funny one after Tuesday night and I am sure that they will be looking for a positive result.

“But on the flip side, they have been beaten 6-0 and we will be looking to take advantage of that and follow up with another victory.

“But we will just be focused on ourselves.

“I am sure what we have got in our changing room will be more than enough.”

Standards have been set collectively by Wagner’s class of 2016-17 so far and while Town, as a team, are clearly greater than the sum of their parts, the incremental development of many players in their own merit has also been pronounced.

In Smith’s case, it helped to yield a contract extension at the start of this season, with the full-back’s deal now running until 2019 with Wagner declaring that the Warrington-born player possessed the Terriers “identity” which he requires from all of his players.

Smith added: “He has been on board for nearly a year now and there are a lot of things that I have taken from him. He has been great for me and helped me improve massively and I look to improve more in his time here.

“He has helped in the overall approach of how I play. To develop into the player he wants, you have to buy into it and I have certainly done that.”