Huddersfield Town’s second season in the Premier League has been testing for all involved with the club. Relegation was officially confirmed at the end of March but in truth, our exit from the Premier League has been certain for some time.
If you’re looking for a moment, person or incident to blame our relegation on there is no shortage of options to choose from. But what exactly went wrong for Huddersfield Town this season? Read on to find out.
Excluding players who were signed as part of their previous loan deals, Town’s summer business was in hindsight, atrocious. Adama Diakhaby, Ramadan Sobhi, Isaac Mbenza, Juninho Bacuna, Erik Durm and Ben Hamer were all brought in.
Between them they have appeared 80 times for the club this season contributing just 1 goal, which came from the head of Juninho Bacuna. On the eve of the new season David Wagner said to Sky Sports, “I’m very satisfied with what we’ve done, we wanted to strengthen our offence – there’s no doubt about it after last season. We wanted to have a little bit more pace in our squad and with our signings we have done this.”
The thinking was clear, in our maiden Premier League season we lacked pace and skill in wide positions. Mbenza, Sobhi and Diakhaby were brought in to rectify this deficiency. However just a few months later Sobhi was sent back to his native Egypt on loan and the other 2 wingers – Diakhaby and Mbenza – had failed to make any real impact on the squad.
Wagner’s move from 4-2-3-1 to 3-5-2/5-4-1 was a clear signal that he was unimpressed with the quality of his new signings. The players brought in by the club were not good enough and the transfer team had failed to pinpoint one crucial area of improvement – the forwards.
Thus far Steve Mounie and Laurent Depoitre have contributed a grand total of 2 goals between them. With just a handful of games remaining that is testament to their lack of goal-scoring quality.
Karlan Grant was brought in during the January window and whilst he hasn’t completely revitalised our ailing attack, the young striker has improved our luck in front of goal.
Obviously we are writing this piece with the glorious benefit of hindsight, but had a striker being signed last summer perhaps our relegation would not have been sealed back in March.
Unlike any of the other factors, Dean Hoyle’s health issues are hard to quantify in terms of the effect that it had on the team. Our legendary chairman was incapacitated for much of the season and his long-term and short-term health hung in the balance.
Dean Hoyle had previously taken a hands-on approach to his stewardship of the club in seasons gone by. His business acumen, galvanising effect on the fans and unwavering support was a key factor in the success enjoyed during our promotion season.
To lose these attributes could well have impacted the team and Wagner heavily. Combined with the raw human emotion experienced when someone close to you is battling for their life, Dean’s health surely affected Wagner.
All of the pressure that the club came under was redirected squarely onto the shoulders of David Wagner. The pressures of the job were cited by Wagner when he decided to step-down from his role at the turn of the year, and it’s no surprise really.
Whilst relegation is a bitter pill to swallow, we can at least comfort ourselves with the fact that Dean Hoyle’s health has recovered. After all, certain things in life take precedence over football.
Running out of steam
In the 62 Premier League games since Town’s 1-0 victory over West Brom last season the team have collected just 36 points, winning a measly 8 games. Compared to every team that has played the same number of games in the Premier League in that period, Town are rock-bottom of the standings.
Following the team’s promotion to the Premier League there was a feel good factor that boosted the players and improved results. Last season it was the early season run of form that secured safety for Town in the long-run.
Our form since the victory over West Brom is nothing to be ashamed of though. David Wagner secured promotion for the team against all odds, with a squad that many deemed inadequate to survive in the Championship.
Performing above all expectations can only go on for so long and it was inevitable that Town would run out of steam at some point. If this dreadful season has taught us one thing, it is that Town need to prepare adequately for any potential return to the Premier League.
Jan Siewert is the man that Dean Hoyle has trusted with the short-term future of our football club and we have to trust his decision making. After all he trusted David Wagner and the German is arguably our best ever manager since Herbert Chapman.
The summer will be testing for Siewert as he is expected to oversee a complete overhaul of the playing staff. In recent weeks rumours have emerged of rifts between the manager and a number of first-team players.
With the club’s new financial power Siewert certainly has an advantage when it comes to bringing in the players he wants and jettisoning those he has fallen out with. Siewert has spoken passionately about his style of play and principles since taking the reins.
As such we are yet to see that play out on the pitch but with backing in the transfer market we can expect to see evidence of Siewert’s philosophy on the pitch next season. Immediate promotion back to the Premier League would obviously be fantastic in the eyes of the fans.
However a season of consolidation followed by a concerted promotion push would perhaps be better for the team in the long-run. Yo-yoing back to the Premier League would merely paper over the cracks.
This club needs to realistically build and prepare for the challenges of the Premier League if it is to avoid repeating the mistakes of this season.