Last night’s showing at Cardiff told me that Mark Hudson is not currently the man to take the reigns full-time at Huddersfield Town. Not because of the result - plenty of teams will lose away to Cardiff this season - but because of the basics that were ignored by his players on the pitch.
Whilst it is frustrating to see highly-paid athletes neglecting their basic duties on the pitch, there are small positives to take for the future. Getting players to fulfill elementary duties is relatively easy, but it will require a manager who demands the respect of the players.
So what are the basics that this current crop of players are neglecting? Read on to find out.
Knowing Your Role
The centre-back partnership is perhaps the most important of all partnerships on the football pitch. In Town’s current tactical guise, one of the centre-backs should be responsible for stopping and the other should be a covering player.
Traditionally the stopper will be the slower of the pair and will be charged with winning the ball on the front foot. Conversely, the covering player drops in behind and picks up the scraps.
In Town’s team, Elphick is the stopper and Schindler is the covering defender, but one of them is currently neglecting their role. This was so obvious in Cardiff’s second goal when Elphick stuttered and couldn’t make his mind up to block or drop off.
Christopher Schindler had dropped to cover his role but Elphick’s indecision left him in no-mans land and Cardiff pounced on the pair’s indecision. As it was Elphick compounded his mistake by getting back late and diverting the shot past his own goalkeeper with a late block.
This defensive pair either need to work together more on the training pitch, or Elphick needs to be dropped for another defender that understands the role better. One point of worry is Elphick’s age and experience, for someone with a wealth of both, he should not be making these basic errors so consistently.
Without the ball it is paramount that all outfield players track their runners and are aware of their position on the pitch. That doesn’t mean jogging back with your winner, it means getting tight to them in order to affect the ball if they receive it.
Three players were guilty of lacklustre tracking last night, Florent Hadergjonaj, Isaac Mbenza , and most Town fans man of the match Trevoh Chalobah. On multiple occasions all three of those players left their opposite numbers in far too much space, allowing them to have a big effect on the game.
Hadergjonaj and Chalobah both made some effort in tracking their runners, but Mbenza seemed completely opposed to the idea.
In effect the actions of these three players left us to defend with eight men, making it a wonder that we only lost 2-1. Fundamentally it’s a question of effort, and these three need to show much more endeavour in their next game.
Showing For The Ball
How many times did you see a player in a Town shirt showing for the ball and coming towards it? Excluding Karlan Grant, there weren’t many players doing that last night, in fact most were doing the opposite.
At one point Karlan Grant broke forward with the ball whilst Van La Parra jogged to keep up with him and Isaac Mbenza burst forward. The Belgian winger halted his run directly behind a Cardiff defender, effectively hiding from the ball.
For Cardiff's opener Jonathan Hogg takes the blame for dallying on the ball and being indecisive. Yet on a deeper level, his decision to do that probably comes from the fact that his teammates are not showing for the ball.
No matter where Hogg hooked the ball to, he could have been confident that there would have been no Town player in sight. With their collective lack of movement, Hogg's teammates pretty much threw him under a bus.
Perhaps it's a confidence issue that's stopping Town's players from being brave and seeking out the ball. Regardless, it is still unacceptable and incredibly unfair on the rest of the team and the fans who are watching.
Why Hudson Cannot Be Manager
Mark Hudson is a likable guy and someone who has the potential to forge out a decent career in football management. However his first full-time job should not be at Huddersfield Town with this current crop of players.
Last night's failure to carry out basic defensive duties was worrying as it shows a total lack of respect towards Mark Hudson. If these players truly respected Hudson and held him in high regard, they would have pulled their fingers out and done the easy, basics that require nothing but hard work.
To finish, this isn't an indictment of Mark Hudson as a manager, rather a warning of the selfishness on show in this squad. They need a firm hand right now and I'm afraid that they will take advantage of Hudson's inexperience and continue to under perform.