HUDDERSFIELD TOWN chairman Dean Hoyle is confident that the Terriers will secure all of their main summer targets in time for the new season following head coach David Wagner’s decision to commit his future to the club.
Town, busily preparing for their second campaign in the Premier League, have been handed a tough start to 2018-19 with opening fixtures against the competition’s last two winners in Chelsea and reigning champions Manchester City.
Other teams will be more wiser regarding us and I think we will be wiser of the task ahead.Huddersfield chairman Dean Hoyle
The dual appointments, with the London club due to arrive at the John Smith’s Stadium on August 11 and Town scheduled to visit the Etihad Stadium seven days later, will evoke unforgettable memories of late last season when Wagner’s side secured two heroic draws against Chelsea and City in their final two away games of 2017-18 to retain their top-flight status.
The new fixture schedule has also handed Town some daunting late appointments with a trip to Liverpool in their penultimate road trip of the season on April 27 followed by a final home league game against Manchester United – whom they memorably beat in the league fixture in Huddersfield last season – on May 4.
Town – whose reverse fixture against United takes place at Old Trafford in an attractive-looking Boxing Day fixture – will finish the season at Southampton eight days later.
While Hoyle expects the club’s second season back in the big time to be just as challenging, if not more so than last term, he believes that Town will be better prepared.
Whereas last summer Town – only promoted in late May – brought in 10 signings to help build the nucleus of a top-flight squad the club are now targeting select additions in key areas with a number of existing players having proved themselves admirably in the division.
Huddersfield have already made a major statement by breaking their transfer record to sign Dutch international centre-half Terence Kongolo for £12m to add a quality recruit to their backline and have also signed another wing option in Egyptian international Ramadan Sobhi this week for a reported £5.7m.
With head coach Wagner ending speculation regarding his future recently by signing a new three-year deal, Hoyle is expecting the club’s other main targets to follow Kongolo, Stoke’s Sobhi and Leicester City goalkeeper Ben Hamer to Huddersfield.
He believes the attraction of working with one of the brightest and most highly-regarded head coaches in the top flight will be a big lure.
Hoyle told The Yorkshire Post: “At the end of the day, the only reason we got Terence Kongolo was because David committed his future to the club. Terence would not have come if he did not know who the next manager was.
“Us retaining our Premier League status meant David was always highly likely to stay. Now that David has committed his future our targets are highly likely to come to this football club and it all bodes well. We know we need strengthening in our offensive positions and know we need more pace and more width and attacking options.
“I am fully on board with that and we are working hard to bring those through the door.
“When we started last season we thought we knew what it took. Now we know what it takes and that is a difference.
“We thought we knew what it needed and now we know what it does need.”
Hoyle is the first to acknowledge that a number of Town’s rivals will be ‘wiser’ when they come up against Yorkshire’s sole Premier League representative.
But with a fastidious head coach at the helm who leaves nothing to chance in Wagner, fortified by a season’s experience in the top flight, Town’s chairman believes that the German and his team and staff will be able to cope with the challenges ahead and avoid the perils of second-season syndrome.
“Other teams will be wiser regarding us and I think we will be wiser of the task ahead,” added Hoyle.
“David has learned lots of lessons from last season; he is the first to admit it.
“David had only managed a lower-league side in Germany and within 18 months of coming to England he was the manager of a Premier League team in the biggest league in the world playing the biggest players and biggest teams.
“What a transformation for him. But like anything else education is through a longer process and 18 months probably did not give him enough time to get his head around the task ahead.
“But now, after a full season, he knows exactly what it (the Premier League) is about and the time management through the season and when players are at their lowest and he knows how to combat some teams and the players, systems and managers.
“It bodes well, but it will be another challenging season. But, hopefully, as a football club, we can take another step forward and that is the exciting part.”
Town’s fixtures: Page 24