While fans, pundits and the Premier League put together their ‘of the year’ awards one of the stories of the season being overlooked is the job David Wagner has done at Huddersfield Town.
The candidates for this season’s Premier League Manager of the Year award were Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp, Sean Dyche, Roy Hodgson and fellow promotion duo Rafa Benitez and Chris Hughton.
Pep, unsurprisingly, picked up both the Premier League and LMA manager of the year awards as the awards are as much about status as achievement. Guardiola did a brilliant job this year as his Manchester City side broke records on the way to the Premier League title, but he spent hundreds of millions of pounds in doing so and benefited from the lack of a serious challenger.
He also received more than enough praise and media attention throughout the campaign, that this was frankly one trophy the Catalan boss didn’t need.
Benitez and Hughton were recognised for their efforts keeping their sides in the top flight against the odds but there was no nod for Wagner.
Huddersfield may have finished the lowest of three promoted sides but with the lowest budget, the smallest profile and the weakest side in terms of depth and talent, keeping them up was a miracle for the German-born former USA international.
It’s no surprise Huddersfield hadn’t been in the top flight since a brief stay ending in 1972. You’d have to go all the way back to the end of the glory days for the club in 1955 for the last time they were a consistent top-flight team. The club has been all the way down to the fourth tier and back since 1972 and weren’t really given a chance at promotion the year they came up. The club finished 19th in the Championship the year Wagner took over, having not finished higher than 16th at that level since the start of the millennium.
Despite all of this Wagner oversaw an incredible turnaround, guiding Huddersfield to the playoffs, which they would go on to win securing a return to the top flight.
The Terriers had become a Premier League side overnight, with several of the same squad that placed 19th in the Championship.
Wagner has continued to defy the odds with his team this season. They haven’t always got the results but the team has never looked out of their depth which is a huge achievement in itself.
Huddersfield also picked up some huge victories this season including a 2-1 win over Manchester United and two 4-1 wins over Bournemouth and Watford. There are entire generations of Huddersfield fans who have never seen their club reach these heights.
Taking into account not just the incredible job he has done this season to keep them up, but the meteoric journey the club has undergone in Wagner’s first two full seasons. The Terriers boss shouldn’t just be manager of the year, he should be named as one of the best managers in the country right now.
Taking a club from a Championship relegation scrap to Premier League survivors in successive seasons, let’s see Pep Guardiola do that.