David Wagner stressed he’s determined to “create a season we can be proud of” at Huddersfield Town following Wolfsburg’s attempts to snatch him away.
The 45-year-old head coach was facing the press for the first time since the Bundesliga club’s interest and emphasised he’s keen to focus on the job in hand at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Wagner had a short meeting with his players to reassure them about the situation and to make sure there are no distractions going into the home Boxing Day clash with Nottingham Forest.
Asked if making a choice between Town and a return to Germany had been difficult, Wagner responded: ”That wasn’t hard, it was very easy to be fair.
“I think especially in Germany in the winter break, there are a lot of rumours and speculation and, for me, it’s nice that in Germany some people recognise Huddersfield Town.
“This is something the lads can be proud about and it’s nice they get the recognition in Germany.
“As I’ve said before, though, this story isn’t done here and I’m focused on what we have to do in the future here.
“And I like to try to do everything together with my players to create something in this season where we maybe can be proud of it.
“For this we have to be focused on the next step and the next step for us is Nottingham Forest. We have to make sure we are focused on ourselves to perform and ask every supporter to help create the best atmosphere ever at the John Smith’s Stadium on a Boxing Day.”
Wagner insisted the Wolfsburg story was not a distraction for the players, but that he had received a few phone calls and text messages from his squad while it was unfolding.
So was it flattering to be linked with such a big club, one which was in the Champions League last season and eliminated only in the quarter-finals by eventual winners Real Madrid?
“I am long enough in this business, not just as a manager but as a player, to know that if you maybe perform or over-perform you get interest or recognition from other clubs,” he said.
“This is normal business. It’s usual. I don’t want that to sound arrogant, but it’s just part of the business, it’s nothing special.
“The important thing is that nothing happened and I know what I have to do, and that’s to prepare this dressing room for the Nottingham Forest game.”
Asked about whether he felt the club statement and his own words were necessary to alleviate the fears of supporters and players, Wagner said: “I didn’t do this because I like to play a role.
“I said it from the bottom of my heart, because I like to go forward here and try and see where this story ends.
“This is my aim and this is why it’s so important for me to make clear that we have made some steps, and we are happy with those steps, but we are still hungry and greedy to find out where the next step is.
“I said at the beginning of the season we will not give ourselves a target, we like to play this season without limits, and this is what we are still doing.
“The important thing is to be focused only on the next step. The players have done this well in the past, they have never looked forward too much. They have always focused on the present.”
On the calls and messages from players, Wagner added: “We are so tight together and we have a relationship, so they are interested in what happens.
“It was a short meeting (when we came back to training), a few sentences and it was done. We go forward.”
Wagner laughed when asked about the faith many players had put in him to join Town, with the suggestion they would be happy he’d stayed.
“Like always in the dressing rooms, some like to have me here, some not!” he smiled. “But in the end they have to accept that I am here.
“I like to have them – and I think this is important.”