NEW head coach Jan Siewert had not been on the radar of Huddersfield Town for a matter of weeks or months, but several years.
Just as clubs attempt to compensate for the loss of leading players by finding potential replacements to step into the breach when the need arises, so the shrewd ones similarly make provisions ahead of the exit of a successful manager.
It was within this context that Town’s new boss first crept into the conversation.
Town were conscious that the stock of Siewert’s predecessor David Wagner was sky-high during the club’s remarkable promotion to the top flight and ‘great escape’ – and the list of admirers has not diminished despite the club’s difficulties this season.
Such forward planning ensured the search for a successor for Wagner – after his departure by mutual consent – was not a long, drawn-out process and again took them to the Rhine-Westphalia region of Germany.
On the appointment of former Borussia Dortmund II head coach Siewert, 36, who has signed a two-and-a-half year deal, Town chairman Dean Hoyle said: “Like any good football club – or successful business outside football – we have succession plans in place for our key roles. A major one here is the role of head coach.
“Given David’s success we knew that it was prudent to look to the future in case an offer came in that he could not refuse. David was fully aware that we were undertaking this work; you must prepare for the future.
“Jan’s name came to our attention in his previous role as assistant manager and Under-19 coach at VfL Bochum. We first spoke with him over two years ago and have kept in communication since, watching his progress with interest.
“His reputation in the game is very good; he is known as a coach who is ambitious, has many qualities and who has strong philosophies. As such, it came as no surprise to us when he moved to one of the world’s biggest clubs, Borussia Dortmund.
“When David let us know he intended to step aside at the end of the season, we quickly moved to meet Jan. His name was still at the top of our list of possible successors.
“There was an immediate connection, you could see why he was so highly thought of. He is articulate, passionate and he has a huge ambition to be a success.
Given that Siewert, like Wagner, has come to Huddersfield from Dortmund, talk of the Terriers landing a ‘Wagner Mark II’ is an understandable one.
But Siewert, who succeeded Norwich City head coach Daniel Farke with Dortmund’s second team in the summer of 2017, is no doppelganger in terms of style or personality.
On seeking continuity, but also involving change, Hoyle added: “We enjoyed tremendous success under our previous head coach and we have subsequently appointed a new head coach that bares many similarities to him (Wagner), a young, aspirational German from Borussia Dortmund II.
“However, that does a disservice to Jan, who is his own man. There is much more to this appointment than that.
“Many of his core philosophies and beliefs about how he wants his teams to play match our own. He likes high-effort, high-intensity, high-pressing football that is good to watch.
“However, it is again too lazy to suggest that there will be no change here.
“He also made it very clear that he has his own beliefs and level of detail that will be a change for this club.
“That is exactly what I wanted to hear, that Jan feels he can build on what has been achieved here and add to it.
“We are not ripping up what we have built, we are trying to add to it and take it to the next level.”
Siewert’s immediate priority is to lift spirits following Town’s wretched run of nine defeats in their past ten top-flight outings with his new club effectively being 11 points adrift of safety after Sunday’s loss to Manchester City.
Regardless of their dire predicament, Town have not yet given up hope of retaining their top-flight status even though their hopes currently look pretty slim.
Siewert, who has a reputation for nurturing young talent, will be introduced to the media today and will step out on home soil for his first match in charge next Tuesday against Everton.
On the task facing Siewert, who rebuffed an approach from Queens Park Rangers last summer, Hoyle said: “In the short term we will continue to fight as hard as possible against relegation from the Premier League. We are not giving up on that.
“We will also plan for the medium and long term, whatever the outcome.
“Jan is committed to us and is excited to take on the challenges we have ahead, whatever they look like.”