Huddersfield Town’s elevation to the Premier League was seen by many as another case of David entering Goliath’s world, but the Yorkshire club has made a promising start to their stint in the top flight.
Seven points from nine at the start of the season saw David Wagner’s side near the top of the table. While they have picked up just a couple more to date, the Terriers sit in mid-table and seem to have adjusted well to life among the elite.
Favourites for the drop before a ball was even kicked, things will inevitably be tough but clubs such as Bournemouth have shown that it is not impossible for the minnows to survive among the big boys.
Historic Foundations for a Meteoric Rise to the Top Leagues
Formed in 1908, Huddersfield enjoyed lengthy spells in the old Division One between 1920 and 1960. Since relegation from the top flight at the end of the 1971-72 campaign, they’ve found themselves switching between the lower divisions.
With the introduction of the Premier League and the revenue it brings the clubs involved, it has become much more difficult for the so-called lesser clubs to break out; it was only five years ago that they were in the third tier.
Managers such as Simon Grayson, Mark Robins and Chris Powell failed to take them to the next step, but a change of approach to a foreign coach – the club’s first – did the trick.
In his first managerial post after a four-year spell in charge of Borussia Dortmund’s second team, Wagner has achieved the seemingly impossible. Now, Huddersfield fans will be seeing some of the best players in the world at the John Smith’s Stadium this term.
The West Yorkshire outfit may have won the old First Division three times in a row in the 1920s but success this season will be measured on whether they’re able to avoid relegation.
With that in mind, Wagner has set his stall out to make the team solid and they have only conceded seven goals from as many matches so far.
New Blood Breeds Premier Success
Wagner brought in several players over the summer and it is inevitable that they will take time to gel with the rest of the team. So far it has been an encouraging start.
Record signing Steve Mounié, hit the ground running with a couple of goals but is currently side-lined with a heel injury. Australia international Aaron Mooy has already justified Wagner’s faith by netting the only goal of the game in the win over Newcastle United.
Defenders Tommy Smith, Chris Lowe, Mathias Jorgensen and Christopher Schindler, have seen plenty of playing time and are likely to be key to the Terriers’ hopes of staying in England’s top division. But the protection that they receive from the midfield will be equally as important.
Aaron Mooy, Tom Ince and Rajiv van La Parra are therefore vitally important and there has been a compactness about Town that has seen them blank four Premier League teams to date.
Injuries will undoubtedly make it tough for Wagner and it will be a collective effort if they are to survive however, initial signs indicate that they have not been overawed.
The Biggest Challenge is Still to Come
Aside from Tottenham – which resulted in a 4-0 loss, Huddersfield have not faced any of the top clubs. Trips to both Manchester clubs, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal are still on the agenda.
Points will be tough to come by against those clubs both home and away, so it is how Huddersfield responds to adversity that will determine if they are to cement their place in the promised land.
The ability to turn goalless draws into 1-0 wins will be important. As Middlesbrough showed last season, a defensive mindset is okay to a certain extent but you must score a goal to win.
Therefore, keeping the likes of Steve Mounié and Laurent Depoitre fit and firing on all cylinders is a must, with the latter showing a fondness for goal at most of the clubs he has played for.
While the role of a manager can sometimes be overplayed, there is no doubt that Wagner is the driving force behind Huddersfield’s success and his various team bonding exercises appear to have forged an excellent spirit among the ranks.
While that alone may not be enough, it will certainly give the club every chance of achieving their aim of staying in the Premier League. They might even take the odd big scalp along the way.