Huddersfield Town retained its spot in the Premier League for another season with a 1-1 draw against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Terriers’ midfielder Laurent Depoitre scored in the 50th minute. Chelsea drew level in the 62nd with a fortuitous deflection from Marcos Mendoza, but was unable to find the go-ahead goal.
Huddersfield staved off relegation with a match to spare thanks to the draw and a scoreless effort last weekend against Manchester City. Goal-scorer Alonso criticized the club’s tactics, claiming they “played a bad game, trying to waste time from the first minute.” However, the points (and perhaps more importantly the television money) still count the same no matter how they are earned.
Huddersfield is led by German-American manager David Wagner. “My English is not good enough to give the players the credit they deserve,” remarked the 46-year old after the match. “If you have passion, desire and spirit, you can compete with top, top quality, and you saw today that we can do it.”
Wagner managed Borussia Dortmund II before making the move to England. During his playing career, he was on the books with Eintracht Frankfurt, Mainz, Schalke, and Darmstadt and earned eight caps with the U.S. national team.
Many are describing Huddersfield’s avoidance of relegation as nothing short of a miracle, as several outlets and oddsmakers considered the club a heavy favorite to head back down to the Championship. And after reaching safety with 37 points from 37 matches, the plaudits are rolling in for the manager.
“David Wagner has kept a level head all season, he has done an amazing job,” midfielder Aaron Mooy said after the match. “He gives us belief and confidence.”
“Huddersfield staying up is Premier League’s greatest survival story” proclaimed the headline on Paul Doyle’s glowing article for The Guardian. “It is a tribute to the can-do culture that Wagner has created, and to his ability to make small tactical adjustments, that every time it looked as if Huddersfield had slipped into a downward spiral… they pulled out a momentous result.”
What comes next for Wagner? There are already rumors of interest from bigger clubs including Leicester and Chelsea. It’s also not a stretch to imagine a flirtation with a certain national team that currently has an opening at the manager position.
But these rumors and decisions can wait until after the celebration. The players already canceled their flight so they could travel home by train and properly celebrate their achievement.