It was only 15 months ago that an irate Dean Hoyle went on Radio Leeds calling out the minority of Huddersfield Town fans who were bringing negativity into the club. His call to arms was for the fans to get behind the club or else, and that he would be judged on the next manager appointed. Well in judgement terms, it wasn't the right appointment.
Chris Powell was only ever going to be a steady appointment. He never excited, he never developed the side and he never brought through the youngsters. Powell has one of the worst win percentages in Huddersfield Town's history, and was more than happy to settle for a point than go for the win.
In a world of self-preservation tottering along with the aim of avoiding relegation, Powell was our man. He averaged just less than 1.2 points a game, enough to see the club safe in eight out of ten seasons. Yet if Huddersfield Town constantly crept above the relegation zone for x amount of years, it would only take one bad season to see everything go up in smoke. You only have to look at the likes of Barnsley and Millwall, to see what could happen if the club weren't proactive.
There will be those who believe Chris Powell’s sacking is a symptom of modern football. I see it as the club finally going in the right direction, a direction that could’ve and maybe should’ve been set out several years ago. The difference between the appointment of David Wagner and Chris Powell is at complete polar opposites in every facet of the club.
A new direction, a new identity
Wagner excites due to his footballing background. Here is a man who had a decent professional career but rather than jump straight into coaching went and learned about the science side to sport at university. He then worked his way up the ranks in youth football before being part of a highly successful team under Jurgen Klopp at Dortmund.
Thanks to that time under Klopp with the style of football played, alongside the success, sheer excitement has hit many a Town fan. Those who had become disillusioned with the club as a whole and those too who had grown bored of the football have now got something to look forward to.
For those of us who are probably a bit younger and those who are described as being a bit more football hipster than your average football fan, this appointment sees a long term plan for Huddersfield Town, one which may well bring a footballing identity to the club, an identity that many clubs lack.
Yet the only way of holding a certain philosophy and a certain identity is by being consistent with your decisions, your appointments and ultimately giving those you have chosen to develop the club time. Forget about Powell not having the time or investment because let’s face it would you trust him to deliver an attractive style of football? No. Would you trust him in the transfer market? No.
I have long been an admirer of how Swansea City worked their way up to the Premier League. They adapted a style of football, a certain type of player they wanted to sign and managers who could implement what the club had set out to do – they had an identity. No wonder that some of their managers have been pinched by top Premier League clubs.
Rather than trying to follow the Burnley model which relied on a bit of luck, fortunate cohesion, a very good manager in Sean Dyche and goals from Danny Ings - an adaptation of Swansea’s is definitely achievable. Of course the financial side is much harder but with an identity comes players who want to play in a certain manner, who want to get noticed. Even in recent years we have managed that.
Build a platform for the youth to succeed
Now to the youth development side of things. Town need to learn and adapt from their past errors and what successful clubs in England and Europe have done. I am a firm advocate of bringing in a football or sport savvy CEO to go out and learn from clubs who produce talent like Southampton.
Freiburg is definitely worth a visit given that a £3.5million investment into their academy just over a decade ago has seen a successful pathway created from the youth set up to the first team. This is a club with a wage budget of around €16million, not much more than Town’s, which finished 5th in the Bundesliga a few seasons ago. That side went onto appear in the Europa League with five starters in every game from their youth set up. This is what we all want to see at Town.
It is worth nothing though that the youth structures in Germany also receive help from the DfB, due to the fantastic structures that are in place over in Germany. Whereas in England the money in football is largely swallowed up by the Premier League due to their monopolisation of TV rights, leaving each club to fend for themselves.
Patience is a virtue
I really do hope that the board are 100% behind what Wagner wants to achieve, they must be after sounding him out so he didn’t join his old pal Klopp at Anfield. Being fully behind the new man though means time, and not just 18 months. It took Klopp three years to build his side at Dortmund and whilst we’re never going to be in the same league (literally) as the former German champions, we can learn from what was achieved over that length of time.
That message of time goes out to the fans too. You may not quite get what gegenpressing (counter-pressing) is, but just because it doesn’t work after a month or two doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. You may expect instant results on the field of play but look at the bigger picture, look at what the club are trying to do.
The board have finally realised we can’t just be defeatist and accept that we’re not going to compete financially. It puts the fans off, especially when you’re served up turgid football, at quite a high price if you pay on the day, and get a sense we should all be grateful for it as we’re still in the Championship.
They’ve taken a calculated risk, one which could benefit the club for decades to come. This is now the time where Dean Hoyle should be coming out calling out fans to back him. It’s also time to review other things at the club so we don’t lose the air of positivity which is now starting to surround everyone again.
This is a turning point for the club, a pivotal one for the future too especially if we are aiming to become as sustainable as possible. I am genuinely excited about where this football club is going now, because I believe we are building our very own identity.