DAVID WAGNER believes only Huddersfield Town’s play-off final triumph tops the historic victory over Manchester United in his list of coaching achievements.
The Terriers stunned Jose Mourinho’s side as goals from Aaron Mooy and Laurent Depoitre sealed a first win over the Red Devils in more than 65 years.
It was Town’s first victory in two months and fully deserved, a point Mourinho acknowledged afterwards. Beating one of world football’s biggest names also left a capacity crowd elated, with thousands staying behind to salute their heroes long after the final whistle had blown.
“This is a very, very proud moment,” said the German in the wake of Huddersfield marking their first home game against the Red Devils since 1971 with a famous victory.
“It is one of the top three moments I personally havehad as a manager of this club. For sure, Wembley is one of those and maybe my first game, which was Sheffield Wednesday away. Now, we have this.
“Wembley is still one step above this moment. But because I know how long it is since this club played against Manchester United, even longer since this club has beaten Manchester United, this is a huge moment.”
Mourinho’s United had arrived at the John Smith’s Stadium as one of just two sides still unbeaten in the Premier League.
The Old Trafford outfit also boasted seven clean sheets in those eight outings, while Huddersfield had not won for two months and had scored just a solitary goal in almost 10 hours of league football.
Town, though, made a mockery of not only those contrasting records but also the bookmakers offering odds of 9-1 on a home win ahead of kick-off.
For Wagner, who had celebrated his 46th birthday two days before taking on the visitors, victory was the reward for a tenacious and committed display from his players.
“We wanted to be aggressive,” he added. “This was part of our idea that we wanted to make it uncomfortable for them. We really wanted to give them less space. We really wanted to make an ugly game.
“We are not able to play technical football with them, as they have the better players. There is no doubt about that. But I told the players: ‘With togetherness and attitude, you can create something’. Against Manchester United, we did that. That makes me proud. They players were brave and took it with both hands.
“We have seen how hard they have worked and the tank was empty at the end of the game. That is why we had training (yesterday morning) to get them as fresh as possible.”
Wagner had spoken during the build-up of the need for everyone at the John Smith’s to appreciate just how far the club had come in such a short space of time.
His words were designed to not only dampen expectation but also prevent any negative thoughts surrounding the six-game winless run that had yielded just that one goal to creep into either the stands or the dressing room.
Asked by The Yorkshire Post if beating one of the game’s true giants had rather undermined that pre-match message, Wagner laughed before replying: “We must remain humble.
“If you are not with your feet on the ground, you start to create this unrealistic expectation. But I am here to make sure our expectations are realistic.
“I have no problems to work on the extraordinary. You only have to accept what is ordinary and what is extraordinary, and we should not take for granted the extraordinary performances.
“Since we arrived, we have produced a lot of extraordinary performances. We are not able to change the way we are humble and we know where we come from and create unrealistic expectations.
“There are three things why we have had this little bit of success – ambition, we have realistic expectations and great togetherness. If we change one of these things, we start to struggle as a football club.
“That is why we have to make sure we keep these three things along with our Terriers’ identity.”
Next up for Wagner is a reunion with his best mate Jurgen Klopp as Town prepare to take on Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday.
“We celebrated the win Manchester United on Saturday but from 10am (yesterday) at training, we started to think about Liverpool,” added the German, who was best man at Klopp’s wedding and part of his coaching staff at Borussia Dortmund for several years.
“After this result, I expect a phone call from him saying ‘thank you’ and ‘well done’.”
Full-page report and reaction: Page 3.