The Apathy Diaries

On Saturday (or Sunday), Town will play someone or another in a meaningless game, watched by a horde of people who don’t really know what they’re doing.

Social media will be briefly outraged at Carlos Corberan’s decision to deploy a bizarre formation or play a box-to-box midfielder at full-back or out on the wing.

Naby Sarr will blunder his way through the game alongside a player that wasn’t good enough when we originally signed him on loan nearly 14 years ago.

We will most likely lose and Steven Chicken and David Hartrick will almost definitely tell us why everything’s not as bad as we think on their next podcast.

Then, soon enough, we’ll all forget about it and move on to guessing which former player our cutting edge recruitment team will bring in over the summer. Could it be Jordan Rhodes? What about Anthony Kay? He could probably still do a job, right?

All in all being a Huddersfield Town fan nowadays isn’t very much fun, which I suppose from the outside is obvious. We have lost 89 of our last 167 games and for 4 seasons in a row now, found ourselves battling relegation from 2 different divisions.

Those facts however, are not the reasons for my apathy as in general Town have been pretty crap since the day I first set foot in the stadium. I’m used to supporting a middling football team that occasionally does something great but then quickly reverts to type.

There are a lot of reasons for my apathy and I am going to share them today, partly as a means of catharsis and partly, in the faint hope that someone from the club reads this and realises there are deep issues affecting the fans of this football club.

Let’s start with a reason that has nothing to do with the football club, but is nonetheless making supporting the team difficult…

Covid football is soulless

Last year when the world came to a standstill because of the pandemic, football was perhaps the main thing that I missed. In those early weeks, when all sport was cancelled I found myself longing for the devastation of a last-minute equaliser from the opposition centre-back, or a demoralising midweek defeat.

When football returned, I realised it wasn’t the game itself that I was missing, it was everything that I associated with football that I missed.

Some of my greatest memories are from hastily arranged away trips to grounds that I had never been to before, with the action on the pitch forming nothing more than a backdrop to the experience.

I don’t care that we lost 4-2 to Leicester in 2009 because I remember how amazing I felt when Phil Jevons and Keigan Parker scored those spectacular goals. The fact that we lost 2-1 at Brunton Park in 2008 pales into insignificance when I remember the bizarre circumstances that had me in Carlisle on a Tuesday night.

These are just a couple of fond memories I have of following this football club up and down the country. I could eulogize about the 3-3 at Chesterfield, the 3-2 at Rotherham or the 2-0 victory at Molineux in the Premier League, all of which were special and meaningful.

Similarly, you too could list of some of your greatest ever away days or experiences at football, many of which would be based on the atmosphere, or the trip rather than the result.

Without fans the football that we are watching on our TV’s, tablets and mobile screens is just a tribute to the game that we used to love.

Of course, it does a job and it passes the boring hours in the evening or over a quiet weekend, but it doesn’t really scratch that itch for me, especially when you combine it with…

Dismal football

Can you remember why we sacked Danny Cowley? Wasn’t it because he played unattractive football and we didn’t want that at Huddersfield Town?

That’s what those in charge led us to believe anyway, despite strong rumours that Cowley was sacked because his ambition to invest in the team was anathema to the board…

Those tedious arguments aside, I was expecting to see a significant improvement in the style of football played by Huddersfield Town this season and at first, I was impressed.

Don’t get me wrong, there were games at the beginning of the season in which we performed dreadfully, but every so often there was a decent game where we played attractive football.

At that point, I assumed that as the season progressed we would play better and better football as Corberan imprinted his philosophy on the players.

Unfortunately that never came to pass. After a torrid run of results in which Town lost to some of the worst teams in the division, Corberan switched to a more pragmatic style of football in a bid to secure our Championship status.

Do you remember another manager doing that? Perhaps a highly-rated, up and coming manager that we had poached from Lincoln? Except there is one small difference between Corberan’s pragmatism and Cowley’s, which is that the latter’s worked far better.

For the last third of this campaign we have been subjected to pragmatic, belligerent football that has had pretty much no impact on our form. We’re still losing every week, it’s just that now we are doing so whilst playing atrocious football.

I understand that circumstances change, but sacking a manager and claiming that you did so because his style of play was difficult to watch and then watching your new coach play the same style but only worse seems a bit bizarre to me.

In isolation all of this could be explained away, but instead it feels indicative of a wider pattern in which the leadership at the club don’t really know what they are doing, which brings me on to my next point…

Odd signings

Duane Holmes, Richard Keogh and Danny Ward have all, at one point in their careers been deemed ‘not good enough’ for Huddersfield Town. Not when we were in the Premier League or riding high in the Championship, but when we were either performing as we are now or in a lower division.

But again, explanations could be made for the signing of all of these players, until you get down into the nitty gritty of each deal. Does it make sense to sign a player who fell out of favour at Derby after being consistently played out of position and then play him out of position?

Does it make sense to make all sorts of noises about signing the ‘right’ type of players to represent the club on and off the pitch and then sign Richard Keogh? Does that send a good message to the players that the chairman has criticised in the past?

In the case of Danny Ward, does it make sense to sign a striker who has struggled with injuries and then submit him to one of the most physically demanding training regimes in the division?

Then we have players like Naby Sarr, who is apparently great on the ball and vital to the way that we play. His passing game veers between good and poor, whilst in the main, his defending hovers around atrocious.

Why did we sign Joel Pereira? Can anyone answer that question? Did anyone think he would be good enough, even as a backup at this level? Seriously?

At the other end of the pitch, our answer to the non-scoring Fraizer Campbell was the famously non-scoring Yaya Sanogo, who was nicknamed ‘Sa-nogoals’ by Arsenal fans.

What about the good signings though? Carel Eiting was a good signing, but like Danny Ward had injury troubles at his previous club and rather unsurprisingly, spent a large chunk of the season out injured.

Aarons, Thomas and Grant may all be good signings, but as of yet we simply have not seen enough of them to say either way. Pipa is perhaps the one player that could categorically be classed as a successful signing and a good bit of business by the club.

If you forget the fact that the club saw fit to bring in an ultra-attacking right back who would be covered by Naby Sarr or 1 of the 4 slowest centre-backs in the division…

But, you know, Covid right? It can’t be helped, we’ve got to make poor, risk-averse signings because of the pandemic, it’s not like our unambitious signings are indicative of a wider pattern…

Board apathy

Actions speak louder than words and thus far, the actions of Phil Hodgkinson and his team suggest that they’re not 100% committed to their own project or to rebuilding this football club.

Phil Hodgkinson and Mark Devlin may tell us once a month, through an open letter that they are 100% committed to ‘The Plan’ and making us all proud again, but everything that they have done over the course of the last 12-18 months suggests otherwise.

I don’t particularly care anymore about the lack of investment, or the fact that we have made £33 million in player sales this season and given the majority of that money to Dean Hoyle. I have no more interest in questioning Hodgkinson’s personal finances or listening to him bang on about how rich he is.

I’ve heard his claims about attending certain games and gone over his broken promises far too many times. I don’t want to publically state that he is a liar, but what I will say is that he has incorrectly claimed to have done things that he hasn’t.

He has also told us things that he would do, which he has not gone on to do and in addition to that, consistently contradicted himself by his actions.

Going forward, Hodgkinson can say what he wants about his plans and ambitions but until he backs his words up with actions I will not trust him. Which I suppose is ultimately the main

reason for my apathy with this football club at the moment.

Of course, the pandemic, our on-pitch performances and some bizarre signings have contributed to that feeling, but largely it all comes down to the fact that I don’t trust the man in charge of this club to do the things that are needed.

What’s more, I fully expect him to say that he has whilst sink down the table next season and drop into League One.

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