Goals from Nathan Redmond, Danny Ings and Michael Obafemi condemned Huddersfield Town to their fifth straight league defeat. Despite a consolation effort from Phil Billing, Town are now marooned at the bottom of the Premier League table, joint with Fulham.
There were boos at half-time from the Huddersfield faithful and large swathes of fans left well before the final whistle. What went so spectacularly wrong against Southampton? Should Dean Hoyle start looking for managerial replacements? Read on to find out.
Why we lost
Tactics: We discussed earlier in the week how David Wagner needs to change the tactics of his team, and he did in this game, unfortunately that change came too late. If you include Jonas Lossl, Town started the game with 6 defenders on the pitch, with full-back Chris Lowe seemingly playing out wide on the wing.
For a team notoriously shy in front of goal, this formation and selection didn’t give the offensive players much to be optimistic about. Further to that, it heaped even more pressure on the defence, which we’ll come to now.
The Defence: Town have scored just 11 league goals this season, 3 fewer than second worst Newcastle United. The only reason that Huddersfield are not cut adrift at the bottom is because of the heroic efforts of the defence over the season – Town have the best defensive record in the bottom 5.
However, the pressure on them is too high. Schindler, Zanka and co know that if they concede just 1 goal, the victory will be beyond Town. That pressure told today as all 3 of Southampton’s goals were a result of defensive mistakes.
It’s frustrating to see us contribute to our own downfall in the manner we did today, but it is to be expected. How much longer can our defenders continue to carry this team? The answer is, not much longer.
Quality: Over the past 12 months Huddersfield Town have been utterly atrocious. In the Terriers previous 38 games they have scavenged just 26 points, scoring 23 goals in the process and notching only 5 wins.
That highlights something we all know deep down, this squad isn’t good enough. That was summed up this afternoon with 2 chances, the first of which fell to Nathan Redmond who expertly fired his shot into the top corner of the goal.
The second chance came around 20 minutes later when a loose ball fell to Steve Mounie at the edge of the area, and ended up in Row Z with the Cowshed Loyal. That’s a regular occurence for Steve Mounie, and when your star striker is that poor in front of goal, you are always going to struggle.
Should David Wagner go?
There has been a lot of talk on social media and in the stands about the future of Town manager David Wagner. Many are growing sick and tired of the style of football played by his team, and plenty are suggesting it’s time for a change. But are they right?
Well on the basis of the form in the last 12 months and the position that Town currently find themselves in, probably. If you are Dean Hoyle you need to ask yourself some important questions before jumping the gun and making a decision though;
1. Are we in a poor position? Yes
2. Are we playing attractive football? No
3. Are the fans getting value for money? No
4. Is Wagner capable of better? Yes
5. Are we going down? Yes
6. Could someone else keep us up? Yes
7. Could we get that someone to manage us? No
Now the most important question there is number 7. Could we get someone to take over from Wagner that would be capable of keeping us up? Probably not. Of the available managers that we could approach, none would be more capable than Wagner of keeping us up.
The quality in our squad is poor, there’s no way we can deny that. Our strikers are terrible by Premier League standards and our squad lacks the depth to compete at this level. So investing wisely in January, giving Wagner the chance to pull off a great escape and regrouping ahead of the Championship next season is the logical choice.
When we do get relegated, we don’t want to have a mercenary manager at the helm, we want David Wagner in charge. He has done brilliant things for this club, won us promotion to the Premier League before and would be more than capable of doing it again.
Does Wagner get a free pass?
No, absolutely not. Pressure from above should be heaped on David Wagner. Not for results per se, but for an exciting style of play. A return to the style that excited us so much in the Championship and the early days of the Premier League.
In the second-half against Southampton, the shackles were let off slightly and Town attacked with a bit of invention, creating chances and taking shots. Unfortunately an error from Schindler took the wind out of our sails, but it was still reassuring to see that the side can play with attacking intent when they are allowed to.
Let us not go down to the Championship with a whimper, instead let’s give it a bloody good go. Excite the fans, give them something to look forward to next season and restore a bit of pride in the team.
If David Wagner continues to stick to a defensive approach though, his days at the John Smith’s Stadium could well be numbered.