Watford v Huddersfield Town: Wagner backed from top to bottom at Terriers

Watford have had four managers in the near three years since head coach David Wagner first walked into Huddersfield Town.

Huddersfield Town head coach David Wagner on the touchline during the Premier League defeat to Liverpool last Saturday (Picture: Richard Sellers/PA Wire).
Huddersfield Town head coach David Wagner on the touchline during the Premier League defeat to Liverpool last Saturday (Picture: Richard Sellers/PA Wire).

Not only that, but the last man to spend more than one season in charge at Vicarage Road is Malky Mackay – and he left during the summer of 2011.

Such a rapid turnover, with Javi Gracia the tenth appointment since Mackay’s dismissal, has clearly not affected the Hornets on the field with this being their fourth consecutive season in the Premier League.

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It is, though, the very antipathy of how Huddersfield have operated since Wagner’s arrival in early November, 2015.

Goalkeeper Jonas Lossl says Huddersfield Towns players appreciate chairman Dean Hoyles unequivocal backing of head coach David Wagner (Picture: Mike Egerton/PA Wire).

Stability has been the order of the day at the John Smith’s Stadium, chairman Dean Hoyle even going so far during the September international break as to pledge there would be no change of management this season regardless of how results pan out.

This desire for continuity at the top of the club is clearly reciprocated, Wagner having in the past responded to his name being linked with a potential move elsewhere by insisting that leaving part way through a season is simply not his style.

For the two men who have played such a pivotal role in Huddersfield’s rise from Championship strugglers to a second year among the elite to be so in tune with each other is something that the players appreciate.

“I remember the chairman saying those words,” said goalkeeper Jonas Lossl to The Yorkshire Post when asked about Hoyle’s pledge to stick with their boss Wagner regardless of what the campaign might bring.

“I felt this was a fantastic statement. It is obvious how big the support is that David has.

“We stand behind him as players, but so does the club. That is great and gives the club its identity.

“The club does not have to go out and invent how it does stuff. It follows and sticks to the plan, right through the rough patches and the good times.”

Huddersfield are enduring one of those “rough patches” right now. Nine games without a win is the club’s worst start since the 1997-98 season that ended with Peter Jackson piloting what became known as the ‘great escape’.

Town failed to win any of their opening 14 matches, but went on to stay up with a game to spare.

The hope is that Wagner can perform a similar recovery job this time around, starting with today’s visit to Vicarage Road.

It is a trip the Terriers will make with happy memories of last December still fresh in the mind.

Then, like today, Wagner’s side headed south down the M1 on the back of a rotten run of form.

A fortnight earlier Town had equalled an unwanted club record of failing to score in seven consecutive games on the road when losing 2-0 at Everton.

Few held out much hope of ending that barren run against a Watford side who were ninth in the table under former Hull City manager Marco Silva.

Elias Kachunga, however, had other ideas and the club’s top scorer from the 2016-17 promotion season opened the scoring inside six minutes.

Three more goals followed as Town registered what proved to be their joint-highest winning margin of the season, Bournemouth also being beaten 4-1 at the John Smith’s a couple of months later.

“There were so many lessons that we learned last season,” said Lossl. “Not getting too down on a bad run is a big one.

“We enjoyed the good periods and the wins, but we also knew that there would be rough patches. That was always going to be the same this season as well.

“What we had to do was not change, not try to do things differently just because of a few defeats. That is not our way.

“We had to stick to what made our identity, even in the rough patches. We did that. That was what we learned and took into this season.

“We had to be more clinical at either end in the goals. You only learn how ruthless the teams can be here in the Premier League, especially the best teams. We have seen that already this season.”

Part of the vision that also includes stability at the top of the club is improving facilities off the field.

Last month plans were revealed for an upgrade to Canalside, Town’s training complex, that could cost up to £20m.

The new facilities will include the construction of a new first-team building, boasting changing rooms, a hydrotherapy suite, gymnasiums, medical room and an analysis theatre.

Work is expected to be finished in time for the 2020-21 season.

“The training ground will be a big thing,” added Lossl, signed last summer on a permanent deal after a hugely impressive loan stay.

“It shows that everyone at the club is on the same page, we all want to stay up. We want to be a Premier League side for good.”

Ending that long wait for a win today against one of two teams over which Huddersfield completed the double last season would help in that quest for survival.

Especially with the next month or so bringing eminently winnable clashes with Fulham, West Ham United and Brighton & Hove Albion at home, plus a couple of trips to Wolverhampton Wanderers and Bournemouth.

Lossl believes sticking together will be crucial and is something the Dane is certain will happen.

“I have been at clubs where the manager changes in the season,” said the goalkeeper, who joined Town from Mainz 05 on loan. “Only two times, both in Denmark. A change disrupts the whole club. The team is what matters and the togetherness. The coach is a big part of that. This is important for Huddersfield Town.”