Tagged wagner

Competing With The Best

Teams have been taking Pochettino’s Spurs seriously for a couple of seasons now, but after seeing them against Liverpool you can see how the club is building a great future.

They’ve been one of the strongest teams in the league for several years now and we all know how close they came to winning the Premier League on two occasions. I am sure today they still think about what that feeling would have been like if they could have brought the trophy to White Hart Lane before they moved homes. Despite how good they have been, you can’t demand the same respect in the world of football without winning silverware. Even if you play the best football and come within inches of winning, if you can’t add trophies people will quickly forget how well you did.

They have one of the deadliest strikers in the game with Harry Kane, and I see him continuing his magic on the field with bags of goals and performances that inspire his team to win, weekly. Some say he has to do that in Europe to be considered World Class, but they said the same about Harry and the Premier League when he first broke into the first team. And look at the fireworks we are experiencing right now, so I’m sure when he is comfortable in Europe he will be well on his way, just like he’s doing in the league.

The team is very well considered and they keep recruiting more talent in the areas what will make the team better and the competition healthier. I still don’t understand why more clubs didn’t chase Davinson Sanchez’s signature. If that guy can keep doing what he did for Ajax I’m expecting him to become one of the best defenders in the league. He is fast, strong and knows how to play the game.

Another thing I really like about the Tottenham setup is that the young guys get a chance in the first team, and if they do well they can be part of the starting 11. They might have had to focus on that tactic because they could not make too many crazy investments in players with the new stadium they are building. But they do a great job of keeping hold of great players like Kane, Dele Alli and Erikson, to name a few.

This is definitely a team on the up, and if they keep performing and improving who knows how far they can go.

Another team I have been impressed with, for totally different reasons, is Huddersfield Town. The little club from Yorkshire were promoted last season with a goal difference of -2, scraping through the playoffs with two penalty shootouts. But they have shown us that they deserve to be in the Premier League and they’re not just here to take part, giving Mourinho his first league defeat of the season on Saturday.

They don’t have the quality or depth to compete with Premier League mainstays, but they play with intelligence and courage and David Wagner’s no limits philosophy makes them a side other clubs need to respect. It will be a great achievement if The Terriers stay up, but a visit to the John Smith’s stadium is by no means a guaranteed 3 points.

The fans summed it up with the banner they had on display at the ground on Saturday: “It doesn’t matter how big you are or how experienced you are, if you have passion and desire, you have no limits.”


Beware of the Underdog

Huddersfield Town won football’s most lucrative game and became the Premier League’s newest addition on Monday.

It’s the first time they have reached the top tier in 45 years and not many people, not even Town fans, would have predicted the outcome at the beginning of the season. But after 120 nailbiting minutes and a tense penalty shoot-out, they have reached Premier League status.

At the start of the season pundits and bookmakers made Huddersfield favourites to be relegated. They finished 18th in the Championship last season and Ian Holloway now infamously said they would finish 2nd bottom of the table this season. David Wagner’s job was to avoid relegation when he was appointed as manager last November, and after doing that he has gone on to become a cult hero in Huddersfield.

The Terriers got off to a good start by beating Newcastle at St James’ Park on the opening day of the season and then drawing with Aston Villa. A string of wins followed and they were top of the table early on. Still many people would have predicted they would have fallen off by Christmas but Wagner kept on grinding out results with 23 of their 25 victories coming by a one-goal margin.

They were in a title race with Newcastle and Brighton for most of the season but just slipped off the pace towards the back end, which meant they had to settle for the playoffs. Everyone knows this can be a lottery and all of the hard work comes down to three vital games. It was very tight against Wednesday and it took another penalty shootout to get them to the final. Wagner brought in a lot of German players and that paid off in the end as everyone knows German’s know how to win a penalty shootout.

Next season will be a challenge for Wagner. The squad is made up of a lot of loanees so it will be interesting to see who he can keep at the club by extending their loans or signing permanently. They will also have to bring in more quality to compete. Now it’s time to ask questions of your squad, like: “Do I have enough players that can score the goals to win games? Does my midfield have the legs and intelligence to avoid getting run over by the teams with more experience in the Premier League? Is my defence strong so we can at least win most of our home games?”

If the above are problem areas then they need to be addressed as soon as possible so they can build a longer life in the luxury league.

The goal next season will be to survive, but they can look at the likes of Stoke, Bournemouth and Swansea for inspiration and hope they can build up a foundation to achieve longer term success in the top flight. It certainly won’t be easy and they will be the favourites for relegation. But we know what happened the last time everyone wrote them off.