In Andre Breitenreiter, Huddersfield Town have found a comfortable, confident communicator

In his first press conference as Huddersfield Town’s new head coach, Andre Breitenreiter not only said the correct things, but he did so in excellent English.
It is critical to how the 50-year-old intends to lead the Championship club, which is in danger of relegation.

“When I watch their eyes, I know everything – well, maybe 90 percent!” says a man who has already picked the brains of captain, longest-serving, and most significant player Jonathan Hogg.

“My door is open for them all the time so they will go into the fire for me.”
It makes communication an important element of his job, which may cause concern when, for the first time in his career, the German will no longer be able to rely on his first language.

When the cameras and microphones began rolling in the Canalside press conference room – and they had to wait because Breitenreiter and sporting director Mark Cartwright arrived more than five minutes before the internet stream was scheduled to begin – it was clear that there would be no problem.

We had been advised that he would struggle with our northern accents, and twice throughout his roughly 40-minute meeting, he had to ask for questions to be repeated, but that was it.

Neil Warnock had set the gold standard for a manager’s first press conference performance a year earlier in the same room – that was the only way to describe it – and while Breitenreiter was never going to match that, there was enough levity, chuckles, and clarity to show that this was a man who knew what he wanted and how to convey it in English.
After his interviews, he lingered to tell a story about one of his trainers’ harsh training methods.

This was a self-assured man who was pleased with what and who he was working with, as well as the goal he was pursuing.

Since even before Darren Moore was fired in January, the Terriers’ playing style had been the subject of much discussion, so it was logical to inquire about Breitenreiter’s offer.
“I was a player for many years in the Bundesliga and I wanted to play football and score goals,” he said. “Defending is essential, but when playing football with your child, you want to score goals.

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“It’s attractive for supporters to see vertical passes, not playing backwards the whole time, I don’t like this. I want to play forward and see deep runs, I want to create chances and see five to six players in the penalty area. I don’t know if it will be possible on Saturday (at Watford) but in a few weeks, 100 per cent.”

Huddersfield owe caretaker manager Jon Worthington a huge debt. His four games – two won, two lost, but honourably – bought them time to, as Cartwright put it, “ask longer questions” but also showed Breitenreiter he has inherited players who can play the “front foot” football Moore talked a lot about but did not deliver anywhere near enough.

“It (Worthington’s tenure) has shown it’s possible for this team to press high and play attractive football,” said Breitenreiter.

“There have been a lot of mistakes and it’s not possible to destroy them in a few days or a few weeks but it’s the start of what we want to see.”

Cartwright believes Breitenreiter can buy himself even more time.

“Given how Andre plays and how important it is to give your all, I believe that will resonate,” said the man in charge of finding Moore’s replacement.

“I believe that if you can see what someone is attempting to do and the effort, you would be more patient.
“It’s about remaining in the league, but it’s also about enjoying what you’re witnessing, and I believe Andre is perfectly aligned with Kevin (Nagle, the owner), the club, and what we’re trying to develop as the Huddersfield identity.

“I think if we deliver that, the patience comes naturally.”

All the debate about style should not obscure the essence of the former Schalke and Hannover manager’s aim.

“I’d like to work in the Premier League as quickly as possible but it would be crazy to speak now about the Premier League,” he added. “The top priority right now is to stay in the league, which will require a lot of hard effort.

“When we achieve this we can speak in the summer about new goals and talk about the next step.”
Other crowd-pleasing remarks demonstrated how well he understood his audience.

“There are not so many coaches who have the chance to work in England, the motherland of football – high intensity, attractive football, maybe honestly more (attractive) than in Germany,” he told the BBC.

He earned extra points for his claim that “because of David Wagner, many people (in Germany) know more about Huddersfield than Leeds.”

Not for the first time, Huddersfield has a German coach who can communicate effectively in English. How he walks the walk has to be seen, but the early indicators are encouraging.

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