What next for David Wagner?

"David Wagner on the touchline against Chelsea" by Chelsea Debs (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Having miraculously managed to get Huddersfield Town up into the Premier League and then kept them there for a second season, David Wagner was always on a bit of a hiding to nothing.

Like it or not, there is a glass ceiling that many clubs of similar size, standing and stature to the Terriers are simply unable to shatter once they've reached the promised land of England's top-flight.

Premier League survival is worth somewhere in the region of £130 to £150 million, depending on who you believe. Once that comes under serious threat, no matter what the club's coaching staff have done in the past, something must change.

And that is exactly what happened at Huddersfield Town with Dean Hoyle and David Wagner parting company by mutual consent. There's no room for sentiment; only the facts count. After 22 games played, Town sat bottom of the table eight points from safety.

No team has ever defied the odds and overturned such a deficit, which explains why the Terriers are long odds-on for the drop and as big as 10/1 in the Premier League betting to stay up.

For all the past play-off final glory and his 33 per cent win rate this is favourable compared to predecessors Mark Robins, Chris Powell and Simon Grayson, Wagner has gone.

With unheralded compatriot Jan Siewert now appointed his successor, what next for the man who was prepared to step out of Jurgen Klopp's shadow and strike out on his own?

The ending to Wagner's three-year tenure in West Yorkshire had a sad inevitability to it - such is the fate of most modern managers in an increasingly transient work environment - but he's bound to have won many admirers along the way.

Not all backroom staff who take the bold step of leaving a high-profile setup make a good fist of it. Barnsley tried it across Yorkshire with Jose Morais - a long-time confidant of, and assistant to, Jose Mourinho - yet the Tykes lost their Championship status under the Portuguese coach.

After taking Huddersfield in the opposite direction and then struggling to maintain that, Wagner should feel reasonably confident of walking into most Bundesliga jobs in the country of his birth. Former club Schalke where he got a UEFA Cup winners' medal in 1997 finished as runners-up to Bayern Munich last term, but have won just one league game at home during the first half of this term.

The Gelsenkirchen club are far closer to the relegation zone than the top six where they are regulars, yet have progressed into the knockout phase of the Champions League. That suggests incumbent coach Domenico Todesco obviously has plenty about him, but he must sort Schalke's below-par domestic form out.

Back in English football, meanwhile, some bookmakers have Wagner reasonably prominent in the next Leicester City manager betting. Claude Puel has been dogged by speculation surrounding his future throughout his time at the Foxes.

Leciester, who pulled off one of sport's greatest-ever shocks when they defied all expectations and lifted the Premier League in 2016, are one of a clutch of sides well adrift of the top six and seemingly in no danger of the drop.

Wagner is alongside Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers and Burnley manager Sean Dyche in that market, but wherever he ends up next Terriers fans will always have great memories of their remarkable journey under him.


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