Within the past hour Huddersfield Town announced the departure of head coach David Wagner by mutual consent. To those on the outside, it doesn't seem particularly surprising considering the side's recent plight. But, we here at TerrierBlog feel empty after hearing the news.
A lot of negative things will be said and written over the coming days. With that in mind, let's look back on some of the best moments that David Wagner gave us.
Sheffield Wednesday 3-1 Huddersfield Town : Saturday 21st November, 2015
You probably weren't expecting this one to be a favourite, but by God it was. After months of morose football under Chris Powell we were finally treated to a bit of passion, and we even saw glimpses of the 'full-throttle' football that Wagner promised us in his first ever press conference.
The Town team lined-up like this;
(4-2-3-1) Joe Murphy (GK), Tommy Smith, Mark Hudson, Martin Crainie, Kyle Dempsey, Dean Whitehead, Emyr Huws, Sean Scannell, Harry Bunn, Mustapha Carayol, Nahki Wells.
Wagner had two weeks with the squad before this game, which included an overseas training camp, where he put his players through their paces with a rigorous fitness regime. It was clear to see the difference in attitude, fitness and style in the first 70 minutes of the game.
Town harried, hustled and harangued Wednesday off the ball and looked calm and composed when in possession. A Sean Scannell header opened the scoring and Emyr Huws squandered a terrific chance shortly after that would have put Town 2 up.
In the last 20 minutes the players visibly tired which allowed Wednesday back into the game, and Lucas Joao inspired the home side to a 3-1 victory. Although it was a loss, it provided a sign of things to come.
Nobody predicted the meteoric rise that would ensue, but plenty began to fall back in love with the club after that day as they saw a team playing with character, passion and a clear plan. After months of turgid Chris Powell football, it was highly refreshing to see.
Huddersfield Town 2-1 Leeds United : Sunday 5th February, 2017
Of course this game had to make it into the list. Following a 3-1 home victory over league leaders Brighton earlier in the week, Town faced fierce local rivals Leeds United at home on the Sunday. The game started ferociously and Kasey Palmer was forced off following some heavy treatment from the Leeds back-line.
Unfortunately for Leeds this led to the introduction of Izzy Brown who scored shortly after his introduction to send the home fans into raptures. Chris Wood equalised for the visitors after a defensive mix-up allowed him too much time in the Town box.
A frantic second-half followed, in which new signing Collin Quaner demonstrated an unremarkable control of his limbs. Failing to even connect with the ball when unmarked from 6 yards out. However Town would have the last laugh as cult-hero Michael Hefele scored a last-gasp winner.
Cue pandemonium in the stands and on the touchline. David Wagner raced down the touchline to celebrate the winner with his charges. On his return to the technical area Garry Monk chose to barge into him, sparking an ugly - but highly entertaining - pitchside brawl.
Newcastle United 1-2 Huddersfield Town: Saturday 13th August, 2016
Wagner’s first full season had started well with Kasey Palmer sealing victory against Brentford on the opening day. A trip to St. James Park followed, to face Rafa Benitez’s recently relegated Magpies.
A jinking run and cross from Van La Parra was turned into the back of the net by Nahki Wells in the first-half to put Town ahead. In the second, Dwight Gayle followed turned in the rebound from his missed penalty to level matters.
Jack Payne was introduced for Joe Lolley and in the 82nd minute he was sent racing clear by an excellent Palmer through ball. The new boy from Southend calmly found the corner of the net to put the Terriers 2-1 up with little over 10 minutes remaining.
Town held their nerve and kept Newcastle out, sealing a vital 3 points that signaled to the outside world that something special was beginning in Huddersfield.
Sheffield Wednesday 1-1 Huddersfield Town (Town win 4-3 on pens): Wednesday 17th May, 2017
The second-leg of the play-off semi-final against Sheffield Wednesday looked well poised after a goalless draw at the John Smith’s the previous Sunday. Although try telling that to a Wednesday fan.
London hoteliers reported a boost in takings as delirious Wednesday fans rushed to book their Wembley accommodation. Confident in the knowledge that their 0-0 draw in the first-leg was merely the beginning of what would be a Hillsborough demolition job.
Into the ‘cauldron’ Town stepped, and could count themselves unfortunate not to go into the break 1-0 up after Izzy Brown missed a guilt-edged chance to open the scoring. 6 minutes into the second-half Town were made to rue that missed opportunity when Steven Fletcher put the home side 1-0 up.
The Wednesday faithful certainly thought that was that, game over, job done. Out came the camera phone lights and the songs about bouncing and pigs. 22 minutes later Tom Lees put a dampner on the celebrations by turning into his own goal and levelling the tie.
Extra-time came and went and both Town and Wednesday had good chances to score a second through Nahki Wells and Jordan Rhodes respectively. After a sapping 120 minutes the game was sent to penalties.
Argentine forward Fernando Forrestierri sealed the fate of the Owls when his poor penalty was saved by Town ‘keeper Danny Ward. A flurry of celebrations erupted amongst the Town players, staff and fans alike.
Michael Hefele even jumped in with the Wednesday fans to celebrate, mistaking them for the 2,000 Town fans in the upper tier. From the post-match huddle it was clear to see that David Wagner and his team meant business, and that Wembley was now their main focus…
Reading 0-0 Huddersfield Town (Town win 4-3 on pens) : Monday 29th May, 2017
A day that will forever be remembered in Huddersfield, the day the Terriers sealed their promotion to the Premier League. Reading came into the game fresh from dispatching the media favourites Fulham in the semi-final and were considered slight favourites, considering Town’s grueling, fatigue inducing encounter with Sheffield Wednesday.
The game itself was perhaps a bit of a wash-out. Town missed two tremendous chances in the first-half, one coming from the head of Michael Hefele. The German rose highest to meet an incoming free-kick and nodded just wide.
As in the semi-final, Izzy Brown missed from close range again when it was perhaps easier to score. With these two misses, it felt like Town had passed up their opportunity. The second-half an extra-time brought little to no goalmouth action and we were forced into penalties, yet again.
With the scores at 2-1 to Reading, Michael Hefele stepped forward for Town, clearly struggling with fatigue and hit a feeble penalty that was saved by Al-Habsi. It appeared to be game over for Town, and in such a cruel manner.
Following an emphatic penalty from Nahki Wells, Moore stepped up for Reading and sent his penalty flying into the stands via the top of the crossbar. Mooy scored next for Town and then Danny Ward saved low down from Obita to present Schindler with the chance to write himself into Huddersfield Town legend.
And, as the famous phrase goes, “HE TAKES THAT CHANCE!” Town were promoted, and the journey we embarked upon 18 months earlier under David Wagner was complete. The fairy-tale had a happy ending. Tears still come to my eyes when I think back to that day, and for me, that was the greatest achievement of David Wagner.