The season may only be a couple of weeks old, but there is already plenty of pressure on Huddersfield Town boss Jan Siewert.
While nobody expected the German to keep the sinking Terriers in the Premier League after following the path of predecessor David Wagner from Borussia Dortmund II to West Yorkshire, the boss has picked up only one win in seven months since taking on the role.
After starting this Championship campaign with a loss at home to Derby County and a draw at Queens Park Rangers, an EFL Cup tie at home to Lincoln City should have provided the perfect opportunity to put smiles back on a few faces at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Instead, Siewert opted to make 10 changes to his line-up, including no fewer than seven debutants. The team looked as unfamiliar to each other as might be expected and they were deservedly knocked out by the League One club.
In the aftermath of that defeat, the boss insisted that he did not fear the sack – but unless just a second win of his tenure comes sooner rather than later, that will surely be his fate.
Of course, neither club have had much to be happy about in recent times. While Huddersfield has collected just seven points from their last 27 league matches, Fulham have earned only five points from their previous 21 fixtures on the road.
The Cottagers have had the week off since getting their first win of the season at the second time of asking last weekend. Scott Parker’s side recovered from an opening-day defeat at Barnsley to beat Blackburn Rovers 2-0 on home turf.
With one of the division’s strongest squads at their disposal, Fulham are rightly one of the favourites to go straight back up to the Premier League. The early signs certainly suggest that they are in a better position than the Huddersfield side who came down with them from the top tier, and this will be a chance to prove their promotion credentials.
Despite the difficult start to the season, Siewert says that he has plenty of decisions to make with players fighting it out for a starting spot.
Trevoh Chalobah made his first appearance for the club in midweek, playing the full 90 minutes against Lincoln, and Siewert says that the Chelsea loanee will be in the squad to face Fulham.
Striker Steve Mounie and winger Rajiv van La Parra both came off the bench in the EFL Cup and are also in consideration to feature in the league for the first time this season, although free transfer Fraizer Campbell is not expected to be ready.
Parker and Fulham have had no injury concerns in the opening fortnight of the season.
Three of Fulham’s four latest signings featured in the win over Blackburn last week, with Harry Arter starting in midfield and both Bobby Reid and Harrison Reed coming off the bench for debuts.
Josh Onomah, who made a permanent move from Tottenham Hotspur as part of the deal which saw Ryan Sessegnon go the other way, has been building his fitness to come into contention.
What the managers have said
Siewert has been feeling the pressure following the Lincoln defeat on Tuesday night, but he insists that there were positives from their previous Championship game at QPR as they search for an important win.
“What’s important for me is that we face Fulham now and we have a different squad on the pitch and think of QPR – we had many positive things there,” he told BBC Radio Leeds.
“It’s about managing our expectations. Of course we all want to win football matches and the thing I’m working on most is to do that.”
Parker says that Fulham are wary of a reaction from Huddersfield after their poor start to the campaign.
“They have started the season a little bit slow,” he said. “In saying that, it’s a wounded animal we’re going to play, a team that’s going to come out fighting, scrapping, and trying to do everything they can to get the result.
“We’re fully aware of what we’re going into. Last year we went there and it was a tough game with the crowd behind them [Huddersfield won 1-0], so we’re not expecting anything different.”