Town fans are going to the polls!
No, not the May 7th General Election, something far more important! The Thrice Champions, Huddersfield Town Player Of The Season.
It has been a very up and down season for The Terriers, with particular highlights including a 3-0 victory at home to Nottingham Forest, a 3-1 humbling of Premiership newbies Watford, and a couple of impressive victories over Brentford, Wolves and Reading. However, capitulations at Leeds, Norwich, Watford and at home to Bournemouth have had Town fans at times reaching for the Prozac!
It's very easy to look over and vote for the players who've done well latterly, but what I will try and do, is look at who has stood out over the course of the whole season, and as to who perhaps deserves the coveted award of Thrice Champions Player of The Season, to go alongside the Hargreaves Memorial trophy that has previously been won by such luminaries as Mark Lillis, Malcolm Brown, Duncan Shearer, Andy Booth, Peter Clarke, Jordan Rhodes, Adam Clayton and..... Neil Parsley.
Let there be no airs and graces, August was shit, and so were Town. A weak summer building plan culminated in the demise of Mark Robins after the opening day 4-0 hammering at home to Bournemouth. Academy Manager Mark Lillis steadied the ship, and with his transitional period came some youthful exuberance. Harry Bunn's first start and goal at Reading returned 3 points and Town were up and away.
Harry Bunn's emergence was a plus, as was some early season form for Jon 'Steadrahimovic' Stead who's start in the cup against Chesterfield wasn't his last decent turnout against a League 1 club. However, he owed much to Tommy Lee, no, not the guy that we're all jealous of who did unspeakable things to Pamela Anderson on a yacht... The Chesterfield keeper Tommy Lee blundered and allowed Town back into the League cup game, in which Nahki Wells struck a hat trick.
Harry Bunn was the only real worthwhile contender with the likes of newcomers Conor Coady and Jacob Butterfield looking promising.
Chris Powell was instilled as 'gaffer' during the international break, but he was to endure a harsh start in his first game against Middlesbrough as referee Kevin Wright gave Boro a late penalty for a blatant dive by Adam Reach, in front of a decent crowd of close to 18,000. His first point came in a drab 0-0 draw against Wigan. Jacob Butterfield and Joel Lynch had come to the fore in both games, where Town looked a touch more resolute and creative than they had done previously. However, Town's lack of effort and capitulation against Leeds was near unforgivable, as only Harry Bunn came out of the game with any credit. Town finished off the month with their first win under Powell, as Nahki Wells notched twice with Bunn chief tormentor once again.
Harry Bunn maintains his early lead with some good performances against Millwall and Leeds, as Wells, Butterfield and Lynch show patchy form.
Finally the season was underway! Town's win against Millwall gave birth to an impressive run of games where Town went the month unbeaten. An excellent 3-1 win at Wolves was achieved through Sean Scannell and Harry Bunn floating around loanee Grant Holt, and the midfield trio of Butterfield, Hogg and Coady was starting to fit together and dominate, via their counter pressing. However, Joel Lynch at times was a bit of a one man defensive unit, as Smith and Hudson in particular struggled for form. It was Scannell who was catching the eye this month, and the rapid winger peaked when Blackpool came to Town. Blackpool had to substitute left back Joel Dielna after just 15 minutes, and the fullback came off the field as punch drunk, as if he'd been 3 rounds with Anthony Joshua.
Sean Scannell came on strong this month after leaving the defences of Wolves, Brighton and Blackpool in tatters, whilst Bunn's 3 goals continued to add to his blossoming reputation. Lynch and Butterfield continued to grow as well, and Butterfield was starting to show a lot of potential at the tip of the midfield triangle, where Hogg and Coady were also catching the eye. Powell's choice of playing Grant Holt as a lone frontman reduced the amount of time that Nahki Wells spent on the pitch who dropped this month, despite a double strike against Ipswich.
Town started November on absolute fire... A thumping 3-0 victory over Nottingham Forest had Town fans dreaming of a chance at the top half thanks to the fine form of Scannell, Bunn, Wells, Butterfield and the imperious Joel Lynch. Unfortunately Town would fail to win another game this month. Despite the excellent form of Joel Lynch, skipper Mark Hudson had a month to forget, as a number of individual errors cost Town points against Derby, Fulham and Bolton.
Harry Bunn's early form started to wain slightly, as new crowd favourite Sean Scannell was vastly becoming the new 'go to man' for Town. Joel Lynch was having to perform out of his skin at the back due to blunders all around him, and Jacob Butterfield continued to add poise, control and creativity to the Town midfield.
Like October, Town started the month well. A fine 2-1 win against playoff chasing Brentford saw Alex Smithies and Jack Robinson excel, whilst Sean Scannell continued to be a constant threat from the right hand side. The loss of the defensive 'Lynchpin' would be keenly felt though, and a heavy defeat at Norwich, along with a home defeat to Birmingham, were to show that without the Welsh centre back's pace Town would be forced to retreat 10 yards deeper. Jacob Butterfield would stand out in Town's last match of 2014, a bullet from 25 yards backed up a quality performance from the ex Barnsley midfielder, as he, and fellow midfielders Conor Coady and Jonathan Hogg would continue to blend well together.
Injury for Joel Lynch see's him lose a little ground, whereas injury and poor form for Harry Bunn sees his share drop further. New entries for Alex Smithies and Jack Robinson who have better months and excel against Brentford in particular.
January was a frustrating month for Town fans. The wins over Watford and Wigan were good high's, but defeats to Reading in the FA Cup, Leeds at home and then away at Middlesbrough were as low as there have been this season. 3 very uninspiring defeats where Town failed to muster much attacking intent. Chris Powell started to have questions raised of him with regards to his style of play. Joel Lynch's return was massive, and his performance against Watford was supreme, which culminated in a goal of the season contender for the big centre back. Jacob Butterfield was Town's only real source of creativity, as winger Sean Scannell went off of the boil, but a return of James Vaughan was a very important 'filip' (thanks Mel!) for the side.
Joel Lynch again showed good form before going off injured again against Leeds, whilst Alex Smithies, Jacob Butterfield and Jack Robinson continued to improve. Harry Bunn found the net again against Leeds, but the stocky winger still failed to replicate his early season form, which saw him drop a little further.
The supposed month of love failed to excite, and only served to promote more apathy. 2 wins, 2 draws and 2 defeats fueled the frustrations of Town fans hoping for more consistency. A 3-0 victory over Reading was exciting, but there were tears of boredom and/or frustration in the games against Wolves, Cardiff and Charlton. A good point against the then Championship leaders Bournemouth, was further supplemented with a key win at relegation candidates Millwall, as Town looked to secure their Championship status for 2015/2016. Jacob Butterfield lead the safety charge at the New Den, and his performance allied by cameo's from Scannell, Bunn and Alex Smithies, lead to Town nudging towards safety. Defensively Town struggled without Lynch again, although the performances of Smithies and Jack Robinson continued to be plus points.
Jacob Butterfield and Sean Scannell cement their place as the most effective players, whilst others took a dip. Alex Smithies, much criticised earlier in the season, starts to make a late move after some consistent form.
Perhaps Town's worst month of the season. 2 lacklustre defeats against Brentford and Rotherham were followed up by a drab draw at Birmingham. An encouraging yet unfortunate draw against auto contenders Norwich City did however briefly raise spirits. The last game of the month though, was utterly bizarre. Town battered like a gale at the door of Fulham, but ended up losing 2-0 despite missing over 20 chances, which included 2 penalty misses from Nahki Wells. The natives were restless, and there were further question marks now over the longevity of Chris Powell. Harry Bunn made a couple of decent cameos and Jacob Butterfield was still creative, yet Sean Scannell suffered a dip with his composure and creativity questioned. The manner of some defeats may have been worse, had it not been for several good stops by Alex Smithies.
Scannell suffered a dip in form, which meant that the consistent Jacob Butterfield took a clear lead on the swingometer. Smithies again was one of the more outstanding (and busy!) performers as he continues to stake a late claim for a spot in the top 3.
Alas, some sunshine for Town fans! Along with the sunshine came some very encouraging performances as Town were to go unbeaten in a strong finish to the season. Firstly, an attritional and tough battling performance saw a late Ishmael Miller goal rescue a point at Hillsborough. Town then outclassed promotion chasing Ipswich to record a fine 2-1 win. James Vaughan, now starting to gain fitness, teamed up well with Nahki Wells to send the Tractor Boys back to Suffolk with plenty to think about. 5 days later, Town would continue their run, Sean Scannell, who converted Jacob Butterfields sublime slide rule pass for an excellent away win at Nottingham Forest would star further, and Town looked sharp, as they drew 3 in a row against Brighton, Derby and Blackburn.
The return of Joel Lynch made a big difference to the Terriers, who despite conceding 8 in 6 games immediately looked better throughout. Butterfield's consistency continued, his 1 goal and 2 assists showed well with his excellent ball retention. Sean Scannell's return to form was also welcome, as was that of Nahki Wells.
Player of The Season
1. Jacob Butterfield
Butterfield has reveled in the freedom given to him by Town boss Chris Powell in Town's 3 man midfield. Over the course of 45 games, Butterfield has been an ever present, and one providing great consistency in the middle of the park. The stats are impressive, show that Butterfield has created a massive 120 chances (8 assists) for his colleagues this season, whilst scoring 6 himself. That's 73 more chances created than his nearest creative rival Sean Scannell. According to Squawka, Butterfield has been the top Town performer in 12 out of his 45 appearances, no other player has been top performer 5 times, with Lynch on 4 and Scannell zero.
On Tangible quality backed up with statistics, Jacob Butterfield is the best Huddersfield Town player this season, and the man with the most completed passes in the Town side, and ergo The Thrice Champions Player of The Season 2014/2015.
2. Sean Scannell
Viva Sean Scannell! Running down the wing, hear the Town fans sing, Viva Sean Scannell! Certainly Town's most exciting player, and one that would perhaps take The Most Improved award. Scannell has had all of us up and out of our seats this season through his swashbuckling runs, but perhaps the final ball has let the boy from Croydon down on occasion. The statistics tell us as to why 'Golden Scanz' is perhaps not worthy of toppling Jacob Butterfield.
Given the excitement provided, it seems bizarre that Squawka cites Scannell as never been the man of the match or top Town performer once this season. Indeed he has been rated as the worst player 4 times, and the worst attacker 8. He was however, deemed top attacker against Blackpool, as he rinsed his man at will, although a third of his seasonal assists were to come in this game alone. Despite smashing over a large number of crosses, Scannell only has 6 assists to his name this season, and with his 47 created chances, comes a 72% passing accuracy and 46% shot accuracy - both stats as to why the dreadlocked winger has been pipped at the post.
3. Joel Lynch
Well, it'd be difficult to justify giving a defender the Player Of The Season award, when Town have the 3rd worst defensive record in the league. However, it has seemed that via his pace and ability to cover, Lynch has been one of Town's outstanding performers. Squawka's Top Town player on 4 occasions this season, Lynch has been missed when Town conceded 4 against Wolves and Brentford and 5 against Norwich, and statistically if Lynch doesn't play, Town concede on average 0.5 goals more per game.
Having missed 12 games through injury, Lynch has fallen behind Butterfield and Scannell, and finishes ahead of Alex Smithies in 3rd place. Improving season on season, hopefully the Welsh International can come back again improved next season, if so, Town's defensive record should look much better alongside a reinforcement or two.
Agree or disagree? I welcome your comments below.
By The Red Terrier