There was a glut of news last night from Huddersfield Town as new chairman Phil Hodgkinson attended his first Q&A session. Earlier in the day the club officially announced the transfer of former club captain Tommy Smith to Stoke City, and just before the Q&A Kamil Grabara was #TerrierInbound'ed as a season long loan signing from Liverpool.
If you missed any of the action then this is the article for you! Join us as we go through all of the key points to come out of the Huddersfield Town media machine yesterday.
Early last week Tommy Smith said his goodbyes to his Town teammates as he left the Austrian training camp early to discuss personal terms with Stoke. The right-back was a key player in the promotion campaign of 2016/2017 and it is sad to see him go.
Although it shouldn’t be viewed as the end of the world. During the promotion season it was clear to see that Tommy was playing well above himself, finding the best form of his career.
Unfortunately he was unable to raise his game any further in the Premier League and featured less and less as our Premier League journey continued.
Florent Hadergjonaj was the man chosen to replace him, and whilst he has his limitations as a player both Wagner and Siewert have identified him as their number one right-back. We still hold Tommy in high regard, but selling him for £4 million and replacing him with Herbert Bockhorn for less than 10% of that fee represents good business.
Joel Coleman and Ryan Schofield have both featured for Town in the club’s first three pre-season games. Both players have demonstrated good potential, but neither appeared up to the level required of a Championship number one ‘keeper.
Thankfully, Siewert has identified this weakness between the sticks and picked Kamil Grabara as the man to keep goal for Town next season. The young Polish stopper comes with a good reputation and buckets of potential, indeed he is rated higher than our previous goalkeeping loan from Liverpool.
That didn’t end up all too badly did it? This is good business from Town and hopefully Grabara can be a success next season. One Twitter user has already nicknamed him 'The Camel Grabber' which made us chuckle.
Paddy Powers Up
“Argh why don’t we have a sponsor!?!? WAAHHH, WAAHHHH, WAAAHHHH.”
That’s been the overriding theme of #htafc Twitter over the past 6 weeks, so it’s good to see the club finally announce a shirt sponsor in Paddypower. There has been faux outrage amongst fans since the announcement though, with many opposed to the club’s decision to team up with a bookmaker.
Yep that’s right, some Town fans are annoyed that we have gone into partnership with a gambling company. That’s after two years of teaming up with a gambling company in the Premier League…
Full disclosure here, I work for a series of gambling firms, regularly producing content for them in exchange for a tasty fee. Perhaps I’m not the best person to discuss the merits of taking money from a gambling company, but one thing I can say is that this partnership is exciting.
Paddypower have one of the best marketing departments in the British gambling industry, and the club will certainly reap the benefits of the company’s reach. Here’s the video that Paddypower put out to announce the shirt deal…
It fits perfectly with their tongue-in-cheek brand identity and gets our name out to a bigger audience, we can’t complain about that.
Phil Hodgkinson’s Q&A
After all of the above news came out it was time for Phil Hodgkinson’s first Q&A session since officially becoming chairman of Huddersfield Town. The new man was quizzed on all manner of things, providing valuable insights into some club matters.
We tuned into the live broadcast and here’s everything we wrote down in our notebook. (All quotes are paraphrased for ease of writing.)
“If we go up, we’ll target safety, then mid table and ultimately Europe.”
Inkeeping with his self-portrayal as an ‘ambitious man’, Hodgkinson said that promotion to the Premier League wouldn’t be all about surviving. He would target continual progression and try to emulate the success of club’s like Wolves.
“I wouldn’t buy 4 wingers and not play them that’s for sure.”
Asked if there were any lessons to be learned from our time in the Premier League, Hodgkinson took a swipe at Wagner’s transfer policy last season. He might be the messiah, but Wagner certainly did balls up last season by bringing in 4 wingers and then changing the formation to a 5-3-2.
It's good to see that the chairman shares our opinion when it comes to Town's transfer business last season and that lessons have been learned.
“From now on, one out and one in. Hogg, Mooy, Schindler and Kongolo won’t go unless massive offers come in.”
Hodgkinson didn’t exactly say that the bank is empty, but he did confirm that from now on we will be operating on a one in, one out basis. The club have replacements identified for every position and will move on them if anyone leaves between now and the start of the season.
The chairman didn’t say it was likely that all of those players mentioned would stay, but he did say it was incredibly unlikely that they would all go. Good news? It sounds like good news, but don’t forget we are a ‘trading club’ and an exit for Mooy and Kongolo wouldn’t come out of the blue.
In amongst all the transfer news Hodgkinson also confirmed that the club are planning to loan Ben Hamer out. The chairman identified his lack of match sharpness last season, saying that he needs regular football at a lower level to get back to his best.
“VERY ANNOYING OLD MAN”
Now, I don’t want to call anyone out in particular, but… Dear Lord there were some mind-numbingly boring questions last night, here’s a sample of what some of the questions were like; *dons old Yorkshire man voice*,
“I have supported Huddersfield Town Association Soccer Football Club Society for 133 years, indeed I am probably the oldest, most loyal supporter of football the world has ever seen. I remember when I was a child, living in a cardboard box, in the middle of the road, with nothing but a Huddersfield Town rattle, dreaming of being an inside right. So my question to you Phil, is… Erm, why are the Cheese and Onion pies at the ground so expensive?” Jesus.
“Seven first team players said they wanted to leave in Jan Siewert’s first week as Town manager.”
In a bid to back up his manager, Hodgkinson elucidated us on the extenuating circumstances of Jan Siewert’s welcome to Huddersfield Town. Without naming any names in particular, he said that seven first teamers told Jan that they wanted to leave in his very first week as manager.
Jan’s job was already tough from the outstart, but with a mutiny of that kind on his hands, it is a wonder that Siewert didn’t sack it all in himself. Apparently all of those players will be dealt with by the time the season starts, with some of them since changing their minds.
“Phil Billing is bloody big silly daft and dozy sod and all that sort of thing”
Okay that’s a very bold leap for me to make with my quotes, but in fairness I was getting a little bit bored of the atrocious questions coming Hodgkinson’s way. I’d almost nodded off when Hodgkinson started speaking indirectly about Phillip Billing.
Without naming the Dane, the chairman made a couple of references to players acting with class when they discuss the club in the media. He also hinted that a player had been fined for their conduct, and it doesn’t take a genius to work out who he was talking about.
“The academy won’t be reopening, it wasn’t cost effective.”
Dean Hoyle explained in great detail why the club were closing down the academy, and Phil Hodgkinson backed up his predecessor’s position when he was asked about it. After spending vast sums on player development, a number of our youngsters were poached by clubs like Manchester City and Manchester United.
We would receive measly compensation figures of 40 or 50k, so keeping it operating wasn’t cost effective. Instead we will continue to pick up youngsters jettisoned by some of the bigger clubs, or those that are looking for a clear pathway to first team football.
And that’s everything from the Q&A notebook. There were one or two more comments to come out of the Q&A but we’ve covered everything of note. Next on the agenda for Town is a friendly match against Rochdale during which the away shirt will be revealed.
We’ll be back on Thursday to review the game and the new kit, which will have undoubtedly been labelled ‘the worst thing ever’ by Town fans on social media, see you then!