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Wagner takes Huddersfield to Premier League at warp speed

I cannot believe that I am writing that Huddersfield Town are in the Premier League. The truth is they deserved their victory on penalties against Reading in the Championship play-off final at Wembley. What's more, they achieved this amazing feat in double quick time. The Terriers were always tipped for relegation rather than promotion, so the transformation in the team's on-the-pitch fortunes is nothing short of remarkable. The American-German coach David Wagner should take a bow.

Wagner was up against Jaap Stam's Reading and it was the Terriers who created most of the chances, in what was generally regarded as a dull match. Nevertheless, a mixture of good recruitment mixed with the positive psychology of the manager (who has a degree in sports science) has resulted in the impossible: a fifth-placed finish and promotion via the play-offs.

Looking through both teams' line-ups at Wembley, it was hard to imagine anything but a season of struggle ahead. However, Huddersfield looked the least likely of the two clubs to be push-overs next season in the Premier League. The heffalump, Michael Hefele, at the back was particularly impressive. Top-flight forwards be warned, the German takes no prisoners.

Ironically, it was Hefele who missed a penalty, which handed the advantage to Reading when the game went to spot-kicks. After a penalty miss, it was Huddersfield's on-loan Liverpool keeper Danny Ward who saved to send the Terriers up. You could see the 'Star Trek' actor Patrick Stewart in the stand saying: 'Make it so'. From Huddersfield's point of view, it has been warp drive to the Premier League following Wagner's arrival in November 2015.

The Terriers only problem is they could disappear down a black hole in terms of Premier League points if they cannot hold onto their talented loan players, who include: the aforementioned Ward, Izzy Brown (who missed a sitter), Kasey Palmer and most importantly the club's player-of-the-season Aaron Mooy.

However, aside from the loanees, the German contingent of Hefele, Christopher Schindler (who scored the crucial spotkick) and Chris Lowe acquitted themselves well. Other future Premier League stars shone, as Elias Kachunga and Rajiv van la Parra ran Reading ragged at times, giving scouts plenty of information to report back to their respective clubs.

Next season, I imagine Huddersfield will be a tough nut to crack, as they are disciplined, physical (a bit like Sheffield United under Neil Warnock in days of old) and fast on the counter-attack. I personally won't be that surprised if they stay up, as long as they keep Wagner and their talented loanees.

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