THE corridors of Huddersfield Town’s Canalside training complex have been resounding to the sound of German voices this week.
Nothing unusual in that, some might suggest, due to the number of times David Wagner has returned to his native country for signings during his near two years at the helm.
That, though, would ignore the fact all players, regardless of nationality, are encouraged to speak English when either at Canalside or the stadium to help safeguard the sense of togetherness that has taken Terriers to the Premier League against all the odds.
This week’s influx of German voices, in fact, was triggered by today’s reunion at Anfield between David Wagner and best mate Jurgen Klopp. Never before have two German managers gone head-to-head in the Premier League and the interest back home has been phenomenal.
No less than three German camera crews flew over on Thursday, when Wagner’s media duties began at 10am and didn’t finish until the early evening. Taking training for a couple of hours during the afternoon is likely to have come as a blessed relief to the 46-year-old.
Earlier in the week there had also been a series of interviews with the newspapers and sports magazines that primarily focus on the Bundersliga, while those behind the overseas output of the Premier League have also beaten a path to Wagner’s door to talk all things Klopp and Liverpool.
If anything, this will be a good thing for us because he (Wagner) knows Klopp’s tactics. I like the manager, he gives us something else. His enthusiasm for the game is huge and he has changed so much at Huddersfield over the last two years.Danny Williams
Such has been the interest in what has already been dubbed ‘The Battle for Hearts and Mainz’, a play on the name of the German club where the duo first met, that those responsible for drawing up the Town manager’s diary say every waking hour for the past six days could have been filled with satisfying media requests.
One man not surprised by how much interest there has been in the Wagner-Klopp clash is Danny Williams, the German-born midfielder who moved to West Yorkshire from Reading during the summer.
“The focus has been on the managers and we all know about their friendship,” said the 28-year-old ahead of the trip to Anfield. “It is a big story and exciting for people to watch.
“Playing against Liverpool is exciting for everyone, including the players. They are a big club with a big history and some very good players.”
Fresh from beating Manchester United last weekend, Town will make the trip along the M62 knowing that the odds are once again stacked against them.
Liverpool may have developed a reputation for defensive frailty, the four goals conceded at Wembley against Tottenham Hotspur last Sunday meaning Klopp’s men have been breached 16 times already this term.
Indeed, only four clubs have proved less porous at the back in the Premier League’s opening nine fixtures, but those statistics do not tell the full story with Klopp’s Reds having been particularly stingy on home soil.
Only Burnley’s Scott Arfield, a former Terrier, has netted for the quartet of visitors who have been to Anfield in the league this term.
“The manager always gives us information about the opposition,” said Williams, who came up against Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund when sporting the colours of SC Freiburg and Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga.
“We have video meetings every week and that has been the same before Liverpool. What is different is the manager knows Liverpool inside out. Jurgen Klopp also knows David Wagner so it is going to be exciting to see how the game will be played.
“If anything, this will be a good thing for us because he (Wagner) knows Klopp’s tactics. I like the manager, he gives us something else. His enthusiasm for the game is huge and he has changed so much at Huddersfield over the last two years.
“He is always honest, too. I really, really like that. I respect that.
“Okay, that means he will say what you don’t always want to hear but those words help develop you as a player.
“I have had a few managers in my career and the main thing I learned is I like the honest ones.”
Wagner taking on his old boss won’t be the only reunion today with Williams looking forward to facing a familiar face in the Liverpool ranks.
“I know Roberto Firmino and played with him for two years at Hoffenheim,” added the United States international, who spent four years at Reading before joining Town. “I could see then what a great player he would be.
“Everything about his game was good. His first touch is different class, he is quick and has a very good technique. He is dangerous, especially as he has developed in front of goal since I was with him at 19 and 20. It is clear he has worked hard.
“People say success can change a person but not him. He has just followed his dream.
“It will be fun to talk to him after a few years. The last time I played against him was with the national team when we played Brazil.
“He is a great guy who loves his football and his family so it will be nice to see each other again and exchange a few words. This week, though, we have not spoken.
“As for the rest, I have watched them so know their style of play but facing Liverpool will be something knew. It is the same for playing at Anfield, every kid dreams about playing there
“But, for me, this is just another game. We leave everything else behind us, that includes all that was said in the build-up. It has to be about us as players and how we perform out on the pitch.”