PERHAPS fittingly for Christopher Schindler amid Huddersfield Town’s travails, the origins of the phrase ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ lay in his home country.
It was the German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, who first coined the phrase ‘Was dich nicht umbringt, macht dich stärker’ in the late 19th Century.
More or less exactly 130 years on, the Terriers are testing a sentiment first articulated in Nietzsche’s book ‘Twilight of the Idols’ to the limit.
Fifteen defeats in 17 games and a cause so lost a search party was scrambled weeks ago to little effect have turned this into a traumatic time for Town.
Every turn the Terriers take seems to bring a fresh kick to the guts, meaning May 12 and the end of this truly desperate season cannot come soon enough.
Schindler, as the club’s only ever-present in the Premier League and now captain, has suffered every one of those blows and he admits the experience has been a trying one.
it is hard now because we are in the middle of this. It is hard to find the light at the end of the tunnel – and see the positive things. But we have the same phrase as you in German, about being stronger. We must remember this.Christopher Schindler
He is hoping for a respite of sorts today at West Ham United. But, even if come 5pm Huddersfield are enduring that familiar sinking feeling of defeat, the resilient 28-year-old German defender is adamant Yorkshire’s sole top-flight representatives must cling to a phrase that carries the same meaning in both his native and adopted tongues.
“Bad experiences can make you stronger,” Schindler exclusively told The Yorkshire Post ahead of today’s trip to the capital.
“Personally, I am really interested in this mentality (side) of things. For me, the head is 30-40 per cent of your performance. If you can get out of there, maybe you can go the next step.
“Of course, it is hard now because we are in the middle of this. It is hard to find the light at the end of the tunnel – and see the positive things.
“But we have the same phrase as you in German, about being stronger. We must remember this.”
Town’s second season in the Premier League has been a miserable affair.
It took 10 games to chalk up a first win, while a goal tally of just 15 from 30 outings is the lowest in the top five European leagues by some distance.
Finding positives among the debris of a campaign that seems certain to yield a club record lowest points tally in history has not been easy.
November, though, was a decent month. Town claimed seven of their 14 points from victories over Fulham and Wolverhampton Wanderers, plus a 1-1 home draw against West Ham.
David Wagner’s men were the better side that afternoon but the Hammers will surely fancy their chances of at least matching last season’s 2-0 victory at the London Stadium.
With only Burnley of those sitting just above the drop zone in action due to the FA Cup commitments of others, defeat to Manuel Pellegrini’s men would not immediately make the Terriers’ position any more perilous.
Sixteen points – or 17, when goal difference is factored in – would still separate Huddersfield from safety. But a 23rd loss of the campaign could prompt a recalculation of when relegation is most likely to be confirmed.
As it stands, Leicester City’s visit to the John Smith’s on April 6 or the following weekend’s trip to Tottenham Hotspur’s new £850m home look like sounding the death knell for those slim safety hopes.
Second guessing the run-in, of course, does not interest Jan Siewert’s side. The focus remains solely on repeating the recent victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers, a rare uplifting moment in a sea of misery for those sporting the famous blue and white stripes.
Not only would a victory or two between now and the end of the season lift sagging spirits but, as Schindler argues, also provide some much-needed positive momentum going into the summer.
“We need results,” added the defender. “Look at West Brom and how they ended last season in good form. That is important for the next season. I totally believe that.”
The comparison with West Brom is a sound one. In fact, the parallels between Huddersfield’s hopeless position today and the Baggies 12 months ago are striking.
Back then, Albion were rock-bottom of the Premier League and had just three victories to their name from 30 outings.
West Brom were also the lowest scorers in the top flight and in such a hole that relegation was, like Town this time around, a case of when and not if it was confirmed.
The gloom enveloping the Hawthorns last Spring, however, was partially lifted by a stirring finish that included three victories and two draws in the final half-a-dozen fixtures.
These included a rare triumph at Manchester United, a defeat for Tottenham Hotspur and a battling 2-2 draw with Liverpool.
Relegation could not be avoided but West Brom, under Darren Moore, took that positive momentum into this season and are firmly on course for the play-offs.
Swansea City and Stoke City, meanwhile, languish in the bottom half of the table, any hopes of bouncing back at the first attempt long gone.
Schindler added: “Even if you go down, winning games (at the end of the previous season) can be good preparation for when you go into a division with most teams having less quality.
“We saw Sunderland (relegated twice in succession to be in League One this term). It can go so quick. You have to have a good start, start fast and get the feeling that you can bring the quality of the squad to the pitch.
“That is a great way to see it. If we go down, see it as a preparation and take a lot of positives from the last games.”
Nietzsche would surely approve of his fellow countryman’s stoical resilience.