Thoughts from TheRedTerrier
I almost couldn’t be bothered writing this article. Town’s poor pre-season, coupled with the sale of promising midfielder Conor Coady, has added to the ever increasing apathetic malaise over the club. Town fans have voted with their wallets, and Town have sold the least amount of season tickets for an upcoming season since around 2007. Our well-loved leader Dean Hoyle is becoming quieter as the days, months and years rumble on, and with his lack of an effective tub-thumping rally call, some are starting to question his enthusiasm also. So, are we in for a turbulent ride?
What The Bookies Say
Well yes, they have us down to be relegated every year, and surprise, surprise this year is no different. Town range from 11/4 with Ladbrokes, to 4/1 with a number of other bookies to return to League 1. Personally, I wouldn’t take them seriously, nor would I take any predictions from a top 4 obsessed media, whose research seems to involve no more work than that of a 12 year old school blogger seriously either. Fuck em.
What The Fans Say
Town forums and social media are never the most inspiring or optimistic, but the majority seem to agree that we should be ok this season. Most fans are in agreement that we’re a good centre back short of a good side, and some are predicting a top half finish if Town can stay injury free.
Town’s Transfer Dealings
As highlighted above, Town fans have been aching for a good Championship Centre Back for nigh on 2 years now. The talented, yet erratic Joel Lynch has when on form, almost held the backline together single handed since signing 3 years ago. Peter Clarke, Murray Wallace, Anthony Gerrard and now Mark Hudson have shown that they’re not quite up to the task, and some Town fans are left perplexed as to why this area still remains a problem. In the summer, Powell highlighted an experienced holding player as key, and someone who has excellent game management to see us home in certain scenarios. Left backs, were also a must for Town as the manager purged this area by letting go of Paul Dixon and Jake Carroll, whilst Reece James returned to Man Utd after a successful loan. Also under criticism has been Town’s ability to come up with an effective system that doesn’t look lopsided and leave gaping holes. Both Mark Robins and Chris Powell have employed what is in effect a lopsided 442, which has the left back pushing forward due to there being no left midfielder in the side. If Town pick a left midfielder, Nahki Wells' lack of ability to hold the ball up means that the midfield are unable to support the front men quickly enough – a lot of food for thought for Chris Powell.
So what has he done to rectify this?
Experienced Dean Whitehead was highlighted to be the man who can provide the midfield game management, and the experienced former Stoke man was Town’s first signing. His signing was to allow Conor Coady the opportunity to move forward to support the play more, but sadly for us, Wolves came in and met a release clause in Coady’s contract, and that was that. Powell rectified the hole at left back with the signing of Jason Davidson. The Aussie left back has joined on a free from West Brom where his contract had been terminated. Town have moved to replace Coady with Carlisle’s player of the season Kyle Dempsey, and have also added the pacey young striker Jordy Hiwula to their roster as well… The chances of Town signing a first choice centre back seemed to diminish when triallist Martin Cranie signed on the dotted line. Cranie, who is more of a 2nd centre back or right back, wasn’t the commanding figure that Town fans had demanded when the window opened.
Always repairing, never building
There is a bit of a vicious cycle at Huddersfield at the minute. Dean Hoyle, has never pretended that he will do anything else other than make Huddersfield Town self-sufficient in The Championship, in fact this has always been his mission statement since day 1. But whilst Town fans stay away, and don’t spend their money at the club, the need to sell players to stay self sufficient increases. Jordan Rhodes, Jack Hunt, Adam Clayton and now Conor Coady have been sold which has seen Town rake in 13m over the last 3 years – sadly this is also about the cost of maintaining a below average Championship wage budget for 12 months. We’ve also seen over the past week that good centre backs at this level cost serious money, with Brighton turning down a 4m offer from Fulham for Lewis Dunk – Town simply can’t compete with that. This unfortunately means that Town under their current model will constantly be stuck in a state of repair, rather than building a side for an onslaught at The Championship. Sure, there are often occasions where an unexpected team strikes lucky, and Town may win the lottery, but with Town’s limited budget, targets have to be carefully selected, and at present there seems to be no centre backs available within that budget. However, the window is yet to close.
Nahki Wells – Teams survive and prosper in this league if they are well organised, and have a source of goals. Wells will look to improve on his 14 last season, and if he does, should keep Town ticking along.
Joe Lolley – showing glimpses of promise at the end of last season and throughout pre-season, Lolley’s craft and skill if honed correctly, could be a very potent weapon for Town this season. It's time Joe, It's time.
3 up 3 down
Derby, Middlesbrough and Wolves to go up.
Rotherham, MK Dons and either Blackburn or Bolton as a surprise for the chop.
Much will depend on the fortunes of many clubs, and in a very competitive Championship, sides have to prove that they can cope with adversity and bounce back. Town have proven this 3 times since being promoted to The Championship, and will need to stick together and be prepared to take hits and bounce back again and again. If we unravel, then or time could be up.
In my opinion there are a few clubs that are untested in the respect of their ability to face diversity and could wobble... As well as Huddersfield, there are a further 9 clubs who could struggle if circumstances transpire against them. Birmingham City proved that they could bounce back after a hellish period last season. Gary Rowett came onboard and saved the ailing blues with a strong finish. Money is murmered to still be an issue at St Andrews, and if there are further financial woes then the blues could plummet. Blackburn Rovers seem rather blase about losing key players, and should Jordan Rhodes also depart Ewood Park, Rovers won't find it easy to replace him. If that happens, then you have to ask if Blackburn are prepared for it. Almost the same goes for Bolton Wanderers... With a chairman no longer willing to pump in the millions, Bolton have a negative cloud hanging over them which you have to ask if the rather outwardly arrogant Neil Lennon is prepared for. Cardiff City had a rather poor return to The Championship, and an odd managerial appointment in Russel Slade has got the Welsh fans in a bit of a lather... Some peculiar signings have followed and if Slade sticks to that formula, then the vocal support of The Bluebirds will be out in force! Karl Robinson is a manager I quite like, but having lost a number of key players from last season, he has a big job on to get the MK Dons out of the traps, I'm not sure he has enough to do that. Our old friend with the melted face has done a great job at Preston North End, it's what he does in League 1. But in The Championship at both Leeds and ourselves, he is renowned for losing the plot and being unable to arrest a slide, but at Preston he has built a well organised side, and if Joe Garner continues to score goals, they should be fine. Reading are another side who seem to be talking about playoffs, but a very poor finish last season doesn't fill me with confidence for them. They've lost a couple of key players, who have admittedly being replaced but it'll be interesting to see if Steve Clarke can stop the slide that started at the end of last season. Finally, Rotherham are everyone's tip to go down, but they won't go down without a big scrap! Steve Evans has them fighting and scrapping for every point, and it won't be a lack of heart that would see them go down, but without Revell and Pringle, it may be a lack of quality. Town themselves need to take points from these sides, and if they do they should finish in and around 18th place.
Reasons to be excited
Town have a number of young players on the fringe of a breakthrough, and this could finally be the season that The Terriers finally get one of Lolley, Holmes, Billing or Jake Charles to make a name for themselves.
THE RED TERRIER (@htfconline)
Thoughts from Greg Marah
As above, I too wasn't keen on writing this preview. I mean every blog, newspaper and media outlet seem to make a bit too much noise about the start of the season and what could and may happen. Of course blog's like this rely on opinion that creates discussion so it would be rude not to at least off my take on what Town are in store for.
Apathy from fans is most likely what is in store this season along with frustration and a little bit of hope chucked in to the mix. It really is no surprise that season ticket sales have once again dropped given the lack of entertainment on show last season, despite Dean Hoyle and co working on getting part of the South Stand for fans. The only way to prise those fans back is with a good start to the season which seems unlikely with the fixtures Town have and the poor pre-season showing.
What The Bookies Say
The last pre-season football bet I made was Peterborough to go up in the 2010/11 season and I chose never to collect it due to the horror show of Old Trafford. This time though I am very tempted to take the offer of 4/1 on Town to get relegated, largely due to the lack of addressing key area which I shall touch on later.
Of course Town are always touted as relegation fodder these days and the past seasons have shown that a surprise can be order - see Wolves and Wigan. So whilst the logic behind Town behind one of the favourites for relegation is correct, the reality is always a lot different.
What The Fans Say
Nine goals conceded against three lower league sides made fans, including myself, take a look at our defence and think - it's just not good enough! Questions also still remain about a replacement for Conor Coady as Dean Whitehead was brought in to play alongside the former Liverpool midfielder.
Town’s Transfer Dealings
As I write this my mark would be good effort but could do a lot better. The experience of Dean Whitehead could be crucial whilst on paper the signing of Jason Davidson looks to be a fantastic one and certainly a better option than paying almost £1million for Reece James like Wigan have done. Town have also continued the policy of signing young players with potential in Kyle Dempsey and Jordy Hiwula, both of whom could be terrific acquisitions.
However, on the flip side - There has been a failure to improve the weakest area of the side, the defence. Martin Cranie's one year contract hits me as a cheap option to cover all three positions across the back, instead of trying to find the two players we really still need. Before the season started I felt we needed a good centre-half and two full back, sadly we've only signed one of the areas I would've improved.
Then there still to me remains a question of Conor Coady's replacement as our midfield looks to be imbalanced with his departure. Kyle Dempsey who is an attacking midfielder has been playing all over the midfield but do you throw in a 19-year-old with one season's experience into a position he's not natural to? And should Adam Hammill leave it leaves Town with three wingers, one of whom is naturally a striker.
Whilst I recognise our financial constraints, if Town finished the transfer window with the squad as it is currently, I'd be taking that 4/1 on relegation. Let's hope there is more wheeling and dealing to come!
Joe Lynch – A fully fit and firing Joel Lynch with his head screwed on is a player hard to beat at centre-back in this division. Without him Town look to be lacking pace and quality at the back.
Kyle Dempsey - His record in League Two last season for a struggling Carlisle side was very impressive, especially since it was his first season in senior professional football. Something tells me we may have quite a gem of a player.
22nd. As TRT says, the Championship seems to get tougher year on year. This season I can't find three sides genuinely worse than us and I just get the feeling with Town, like Barnsley and Millwall in previous years, that our time in the second tier is coming to a close.
3 up 3 down
I really can't see past Derby, Middlesbrough and Wolves to go up.
Town, MK Dons and Blackburn (should Rhodes join Gestede in leaving)
Reasons to be excited
The hope of a cup run, we haven't had a good one in years!
GREG MARAH (@mrgregmarah)