JONATHAN HOGG has likened Huddersfield Town’s Premier League struggles to a boxer who is taking beating after beating.
But the club’s longest-serving first-team player remains convinced the Terriers can still rise off the canvas and land a few knockout blows of their own.
Yorkshire’s sole top-flight representative head to Newcastle United today on the back of a truly horrendous run that has left the club 14 points adrift of safety.
The fat lady from old proverb fame may not quite be ready to launch into song just yet but she is definitely warming up ahead of what looks like being Huddersfield’s relegation back to the Championship.
Hogg, into his sixth season with the club, admits this season has been hard for everyone at the John Smith’s Stadium.
“It is like being a boxer,” said the 30-year-old to The Yorkshire Post about a run that has seen Town take just a solitary point from the last 13 games.
“You train every day and go into a fight, but you can’t win and you get battered every time.
“This season has been hard because we have not had many wins. Heart-breaking in many ways and so hard to take.
“We have always been on the back foot. We need to change that and get on the front foot. Start believing again.”
Town’s trip to St James’ Park is the first of three games for the Terriers in the next eight days that Hogg admits may well be the club’s last lifeline.
“This is the point when it has to change,” he said about a trio of fixtures that sees Town host Wolverhampton Wanderers on Tuesday and then make the long trip to Brighton & Hove Albion a week today.
“We have three massive games inside a week – and three games on paper that you look at and think, ‘We have a chance’. We need to work our socks off. Leave everything we have got out on the pitch and try to take the points.
“Newcastle is like a Cup final, really – and it is winnable. St James’ Park is certainly one of the places where the fans can turn within half-an-hour if you do keep the home side quiet.
“We must keep the ball moving and hold on to possession. If the home fans can see they are not at it then that is something we can use to our advantage.”
Jan is a bit different because he would rather we got forward a lot faster and create a chance, as once teams are set at this level then they are hard to break down. He is trying to catch them off guard and, hopefully, it works for us.Jonathan Hogg
A casualty of a run that saw Town lose eight games in a row following the 2-0 victory at Wolves that closed November was David Wagner.
The man who allowed a club who had previously been trundling around the lower echelons of the Championship to truly dream quit in the wake of the Terriers’ goalless draw at Cardiff City.
Hogg is no stranger to managers coming and going. He was, after all, in the Huddersfield team who lost Mark Robins just one game into the 2014-15 season.
But the Middlesbrough-born midfielder admits to keenly feeling the departure of Wagner.
“For me, it was a massive loss,” he said. “David had worked miracles for the club, not just individuals.
“He made some average players into decent players at this standard. That is credit to him. But he has now moved on and we have to look forward.”
Jan Siewert’s arrival in the West Riding is yet to have an impact on results, the German having lost his first three games as head coach.
But there has been a noticeable change in ambition under the 36-year-old, who clearly wants Town to be much more attack-minded than in the final year or so under Wagner.
“It has been good,” added Hogg about the new face in the Terriers dugout. “His style of play is a lot different to what David was used to.
“People’s positioning is different and it is more direct in the sense of when we get the ball, we attack straight away. Whereas David liked to get possession and make sure we controlled the game.
“Jan is a bit different because he would rather we got forward a lot faster and create a chance, as once teams are set at this level then they are hard to break down.
“He is trying to catch them off guard and, hopefully, it works for us.”
Hogg, as one of just two players in the Town squad that kicked off last season with previous experience of the Premier League, appreciates more than most the prestige that comes with plying his trade in the top flight. It is a standing he does not plan to surrender lightly.
“We are definitely desperate to hold on to our Premier League status,” added the midfielder, who made five Premier League starts for Aston Villa early in his career.
“This is where everyone wants to play and where everyone wants to be.
“It has been tough this season but we still have a chance. Why not? It only takes one win to get things to click in this league. To get the ball rolling and the confidence lifted. Then we can start believing. I am not saying we don’t believe now but a win will help.
“Sometimes we have not had the rub off the green. The penalty decision at Cardiff (when Lee Mason overturned his own decision to award Town a spot-kick) was huge. That could have turned our season – and, after that, David went.
“We have been fighting a losing battle but we need to try our best to stay positive and look forward. We just need to get that win and turn the corner – and then march on.
“People know what is at stake. The opportunity to play in the Premier League does not come around too often.
“When you have the chance, you have to grab it with both hands and make sure you keep it. Is it going to be possible for next year? We won’t know until the end but we keep fighting until it is mathematically impossible.”