Premier League - Terrier spirit can keep Huddersfield Town up again

Huddersfield Town manager David Wagner:  'Success will be a third successive season in the Premier League'.
Huddersfield Town manager David Wagner: 'Success will be a third successive season in the Premier League'.
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HUDDERSFIELD TOWN head coach David Wagner insists success for the club this season will simply be staying in the Premier League.

The Terriers kick off their second consecutive year in the top flight today with a home game against Chelsea.

Town have spent a little over £40m on transfers this summer, taking their total outlay since winning promotion in May 2017, to not far short of £100m.

Such a budget has, in the past, led to several top-flight clubs raising their targets but Wagner is adamant no-one at the John Smith’s Stadium is expecting anything but another fight for survival in 2018-19.

“The problem in the Premier League is anything can happen,” said the Huddersfield chief. “But I can tell you our aim.

“We will, as always, give ourselves no limit and try the best that we can achieve. But, to me, success will be a third successive season in the Premier League.

We must try to be ambitious but also realistic. We have a chance. It doesn’t mean we will take the chance, but it means we have a chance.

David Wagner

“This is our aim. Nothing more. We will not make the mistake of getting carried away because we spent a little money.”

Huddersfield’s summer spending has brought six new faces to the club, while Terence Kongolo, Florent Hadergjonaj and Jonas Lossl have made their stays permanent after successful loan spells last term.

Wagner’s stated aim has been to improve the creativity of a squad that managed just 28 goals last season, the joint lowest tally in the Premier League alongside relegated Swansea City.

With that in mind, much will be expected of Isaac Mbenza, Adama Diakhaby and Ramadan Sobhi once the campaign gets into its stride.

“The key will not be how much money we invested,” added Wagner, who expects the John Smith’s Stadium pitch to have recovered after being in a terrible state during pre-season following the staging of a Little Mix concert.

“It is, ‘Are we able to come together as a strong unit once again?’ Not just in the dressing room but across the whole club.

“We must try to be ambitious but also realistic. We have a chance. It doesn’t mean we will take the chance, but it means we have a chance.

“I think the experience we had last season helps us massively. We know that it makes no sense to cry if you lose five games in a row. It also makes no sense to get too excited if you beat a massive name.

“We do feel we have a better group of individuals but now it is up to the whole group to get this togetherness up to a level that makes it difficult for the opponent. If we have that same Terrier spirit, we will be competitive.”

Town face a tough start to the campaign, with Chelsea’s visit being followed by the short trip to champions Manchester City a week tomorrow.

The clash with a Blues side managed by Maurizio Sarri is an intriguing affair, not least because the world’s most expensive goalkeeper is likely to face Huddersfield following Kepa Arizzabalagna’s arrival from Athletic Bilbao in a £71.6m deal.

Asked if this could be a good time to face Chelsea due to the manager and new ‘keeper needing time to bed in, Wagner replied: “I have no idea.

“I am not focused on what Chelsea have done. We know everything we have to know in terms of who will be available, and it is up to us. We don’t have to discuss the quality of the opponent.

“It is all about us. We are used to being the underdog and we will try our best.”

Town received a timely boost ahead of today’s clash with Chelsea when Christopher Schindler, the club’s Player of the Year in 2017-18, signed a new deal to keep him at the John Smith’s until 2021. Huddersfield also have the option of extending the contract by a further 12 months.

“This is a big statement and a good sign from Christopher and the club,” said Wagner, about the one-time club record £1.8m signing. “He has been excellent in the last two seasons.”

Asked by The Yorkshire Post if Schindler was the most successful of his 32 permanent signings since taking charge of the Terriers in November 2015, Wagner replied: “For sure, one of the best.

“What this club has done so far, for a football club of this size, is unique. One of the reasons we have done this is ‘Schindy’. He was exactly who we needed and he has adapted to every level we have asked.

“When I first met him, he was at 1860 Munich and I knew why he was not able to perform at his best level. This has been his club since the age of eight.

“He had become captain at 21 and that brought a lot of pressure. To me, he was not focused on himself and the club struggled. He was always OK and never outstanding.

“Since joining Huddersfield, he has been able to totally focus on himself and his performance. That is why he made these impressive performances here.”