Winger looking forward to the future under David Wagner
- Joe Lolley reviews HTAFC's defeat to Middlesbrough
- Winger delighted with first half performance on Saturday
- Lolley praises the impact of new Head Coach David Wagner
If Town’s players perform as they did in the first half of Saturday’s Sky Bet Championship game against Middlesbrough, Joe Lolley thinks they’re in for a good season.
The winger made what was only his sixth start for the Club in the match at the weekend and described the fixture as ‘unique’ in his experience as a footballer after the Terriers enjoyed 75% possession and almost 750 passes.
“It was a unique game. Since I’ve been at Huddersfield, I think the first half was the best we’ve ever played given the way we kept and moved the ball. To not get a goal during that period of dominance was hard to take,” Joe told htafc.com.
“In the second half they frustrated us and defended really well, but to come away with nothing from the game after that overall performance and the control we had over the game was difficult.”
Despite the 2-0 reversal, Joe believes the players will take a lot of heart from the performance as they move forward.
He continued: “Middlesbrough is a team that usually dominates the ball, so you go into a match against them thinking you won’t have much possession and it’ll be a tough afternoon. We came off after Saturday’s game and they’d got nowhere near us, so that looks good for the future.
“We came in on Sunday and all the lads were talking about how well we’ve played and how well we kept the ball. I think everyone is almost shocked at how well we can play when given the belief and freedom to play.
“Everyone is pretty positive. If you look back at a season, I don’t think many teams struggle who keep the ball in that way we have over the past two games. I think this is the right way to play going forward and as long as we stick at it, the results will come.”
The arrival of David Wagner as Head Coach looks to be working out for Lolley on a personal level in the early going; he’s featured in both games under the German so far.
“I did feel that a change was needed for me personally and that has come,” Joe admitted.
“I think the new Head Coach will improve my fitness, which is something I needed, and this style of play – where we keep the ball on the ground and take a lot of touches – suits me too, just as it does a lot of players we have in the squad. The freedom we have to play is massive.”
The change in the team’s style of play was echoed in the job Joe was asked to do this weekend; he played a lot narrower than he has previously been deployed in the blue and white striped shirt of Huddersfield Town.
“I know that sometimes I carry the ball too much, but in the old method of playing the wingers could get a little isolated and the job was to beat one or two players and get a shot or a cross in yourself. Now we have to come in off the wing and link up and you know you will always have a teammate available.
“It makes the game so much easier when you know someone else will be there with you and I felt the game was easier on the pitch on Saturday. I think a lot of others will feel the same.”
Wagner’s famed Gegenpressing - and the level of fitness required to execute it – will push attackers like Joe to the limit, but he’s relishing the challenge:
“I prefer this type of defending, where we’re on the front foot and you have to get in people’s faces. You know if you win the ball you can go forward; it almost makes defending fun!
“This needs another step forward in my fitness. I didn’t feel unfit, but going so long without playing does make a difference.
“It’s been well documented that the training wasn’t as intense as it is now and I struggled before to step into games. Training now almost replicates a match and I feel sharp and up to speed when I come into games. Hopefully, if I can keep my place, I can complete 90 minutes a lot more regularly from now on.”
Town’s next game at Birmingham City on Saturday is a special one for Joe, whose family are all based in the area.
He explained: “It’s the one game that I will look out for than most others; it’s a massive game for me as my family will be there. To score there last season was a great moment for me; probably the personal highlight of my career so far. I’d love to do the same again this weekend.
“I was surprised by how well they started the season, as I’m sure a lot of people were. To be fair, Gary Rowett and the players have done an unbelievable job to be in the top six at this stage of the season.
“However, after the last two games, the lads are feeling confident. We feel like we can go there and dominate the game, but hopefully this time we will take the chances when they come. I feel like a win is just around the corner and hopefully that will be on Saturday.”
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