Home Features Featured: The Knack

Featured: The Knack

during the Premier League match between Watford and Huddersfield Town at Vicarage Road on December 16, 2017 in Watford, England.

Going into this busy festive period, there is a growing consensus amongst the Town fans that this period of the season could be… season-defining.

Having got the Chelsea fixture out of the way, there is now a stretch of fixtures where Town face several bottom-half placed teams.

It is these games, not the ones against the Premier League elites, that will determine whether or not Town consolidate their place in the Premier League. This is despite being written off before the season even began.

What hasn’t been discussed (and won’t) by pundits and journalists alike is the fact that David Wagner and his side have ‘the knack’.

The knack is an unquantifiable quality which contributed towards last season’s success and the success Town have had so far this season.

Over the course of this piece, I’m going to attempt to explain the essence of it, allowing you to draw your own conclusions.

For now, I will simply refer to this unquantifiable quality as ‘the knack’ but there are many words and phrases that would fit the description. Resilience and mental fortitude are just two of many examples.

One of the many by-products of this unquantifiable quality that David Wagner has instilled in his side over the past two seasons is that, up until this point, Town have out-performed their newly-promoted rivals.

Currently, Town sit in 11th place in the Premier League. As remarkable as that feat may sound, Town also sit above Newcastle United and Brighton & Hove Albion in the table.

Of the three newly-promoted sides, it was expected that Town would be the perennial strugglers as both Newcastle United and Brighton & Hove Albion were better prepared for life in the Premier League.

After all, Newcastle had what seemed to be the makings of a Premier League squad in the Championship and Brighton & Hove Albion had a season to put Premier League plans into place after their agonising play-off heart-break.

However, despite taking a giant leap from perennial Championship strugglers to Premier League new boys, Town, at this point, seem to be in the strongest position to survive.

Whilst all the newly-promoted sides seemed to start extremely brightly, they all seemed to hit a brick wall at the same time.

This has seen all three sides, including Town, begin to fall down the table towards the relegation zone, like every prediction expected.

The difference between Newcastle, Brighton and Town, at this moment in time, is that Town have the ‘knack’.

The knack being that, whenever Town look to be in free-fall or they look like they will be inevitably sucked into the heart of a relegation dogfight, they find a way to win.

Not only that, they find a way to win emphatically.

On the back of five defeats in six and five consecutive defeats away from home without a single goal scored, it would’ve been perfectly understandable for Town to be devoid of all confidence. Indeed, they appeared to be on the brink of an inescapable downwards spiral.

However, this is where David Wagner has demonstrated his brilliant man management. Even with a plethora of new signings, the resilience that Town showed last season has remained.

To win twenty-three of twenty-five games by a one goal margin and gain promotion to the Premier League without scoring a goal in the play-offs are two vivid demonstrations of the ‘knack’ that this squad possesses.

Whereas Newcastle and Brighton showed brilliant consistency last season, Town had to confront adversary in the face, when they gained promotion to the Premier League.

With all the odds stacked against David Wagner and his side’s favour, that was the perfect preparation for the Premier League.

It has been Town’s ability not only to shrug off defeats and leave them in the past but to also bounce back and show a positive reaction. This has been such an impressive characteristic of a David Wagner side.

Later today, there is another potential opportunity for Town. It’s another game against a team around us and another team that appears to be somewhat in disarray.

With factions and in-fighting at Southampton which has seen high profile names such as Virgil van Dijk and Mario Lemina remain on the bench in recent weeks, as well as the injuries to Ryan Bertrand and Cedric, this could be another game that David Wagner is targeting.

Once again, Town have the opportunity to demonstrate ‘the knack’ that they’ve developed and score a crucial win against a direct rival.


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