The Huddersfield View
In our very first chat with the opposition for the 2017/18 Premier League season, we posed our questions to the excellent fan site HTFC World.
Q. Welcome to the Premier League! We know what you have been through having taken the same route to the top division but how does it feel now ahead of the big kick off?
Excited but not nervous. I never thought I’d see Town in the Premier League so all this is just a bonus. I’ve had 37 years of watching Town in the bottom three tiers so this is a welcome change which I intend to enjoy.
Q. Did you think that a lot of changes needed to be made to the playing squad that got you promoted?
Yes. I don’t think David Wagner had his ideal squad last season as we seemed to be linked with several strikers last summer but they never materialised. Even going into the January window we were linked with more again but only signed one (Collin Quaner) and he was used as much out wide as up front. That was the key area we needed to address, in my opinion, as we’d struggled for goals all season. Nahki Wells did a great job under the circumstances but I don’t think he would’ve been here had we landed our other targets – or at least he wouldn’t have been relied upon quite so much.
Elsewhere we didn’t really have the strength in depth that I would imagine a Premier League team needs. Plus, many of the players we had last season were loaness so they either needed replacing or re-signing.
Q. How has David Wagner done in the transfer market so far since securing promotion through the play offs?
I think many Town fans are surprised by just how much we’ve spent. We were in the top five spenders of the Premier League soon after the window opened in July and it was strange to see us up there. Granted, the teams around us had bought two or three players while we’d bought ten or eleven, but it was still an odd experience!
I’m happy with the signings though, similar to last season, I haven’t heard of many of them so it’s difficult for me to say how good they are. What we appear to have done is add some strength in depth as well as address the striker issue mentioned previously. We lost our Head of Football Operations, Stuart Webber, to Norwich toward the end of last season so I’m not sure how many of the signings were already earmarked by Webber, David Wagner, or the new man David Moss who arrived from Celtic.
All the business was done early, again like last year, so this will hopefully help them all settle in thanks to a full pre-season with us.
Q. How did the fans take to the original appointment of David Wagner? Needless to say he has impressed everyone since?
Not many had heard of him, myself included. The only mention of him had been in the papers a few days beforehand linking him with a move to Liverpool as assistant to Jurgen Klopp. There was a definite feeling of apathy spreading among supporters before his arrival. We’d had a season of Chris Powell who’d taken over after Mark Robins had resigned following a 4-0 opening day defeat at home to Bournemouth. Many long standing fans hadn’t bothered to renew their season cards for the 2015/16 season off the back of some really boring football and a perceived mindset from the club that this was as good as it got.
I got the impression that even the owner, Dean Hoyle, was getting fed up with it all.
Wagner was our first foreign coach and I think he brought with him a sense of optimism that at least we were trying something different. It could well have been a last roll of the dice for Hoyle. I wouldn’t have blamed him for calling it a day if things hadn’t worked out under Wagner because he put so much time and effort in but yet there was still that growing apathy about the place.
The fact that there was a noticeable improvement in both performances and attitudes (no more feeling sorry for ourselves against richer opponents) despite some early defeats meant that feeling of optimism grew stronger right from the off.
Q. Had Huddersfield not achieved promotion, would you have expected Wagner to take a job in the Premier League?
I think he would’ve left. He’s on record as saying even after the win against Reading, he thought briefly about leaving so that things would always be on the best of terms but soon put such thoughts aside. Had we lost, I think he would’ve had his pick of several jobs both here and abroad. There were strong links with Wolfsburg in the middle of last season but it seems we managed to convince him to stay.
I think he would pick his club carefully. He was linked with Villa before they appointed Steve Bruce last season but I don’t think he would’ve been a good fit for them. At Huddersfield, Dean Hoyle has afforded Wagner a lot of freedom to implement his own style – from bringing in his own staff to making changes to the training ground and increasing the training frequency. When he first arrived the new training regime didn’t go down well with some players and they were quick to depart at their own request. That wouldn’t really have suited many clubs at our level who have players on big contracts so we were fortunate to be able to make those changes.
Q. We have seen a lot of great interaction from excited Huddersfield fans already just happy to be in the top division but what are your chances of staying up this season in your opinion?
I honestly don’t care about relegation. I’ve heard it so many times (mainly from fans of bitter Championship clubs) that we’ll be down before the Christmas trees, or only survive three seasons (Autumn, Winter, Spring) etc. etc. but I wouldn’t swap last season for anything. If you offered me the experience of last season under the proviso that we’d lose all thirty-eight games this, I’d take it.
It will be a struggle, but any right minded Town fan will be able to enjoy it. I’d rather be struggling at the likes of Old Trafford, Anfield and Stamford Bridge than struggling at many of the other places we’ve struggled at over the past thirty or so years. At least for one season, anyway! I don’t think we’re doomed, our manager worked miracles last season but this is a different challenge so I just think it should be there to be enjoyed.
Q. Explain in no more than 140 characters how the last ten years have been for the football the club.
We’ve slowly improved year on year from mediocre to good over the past 8 years, with a sudden spurt to brilliant over the past 18 eighteen.
Q. Name one player from EACH side that you think the opposition should consider a real threat.
We struggled at set-pieces against big strikers at times so I’d say Christian Benteke would be the Palace player who would worry me. For Town, the great thing is we weren’t reliant on individuals last season but if there was one man who made us tick, it would be Aaron Mooy who we’ve signed from Manchester City following his loan. Not a goal threat, but a threat in that he can be the difference between us playing well or not.
Q. Your prediction?
2-1 to Palace.
Q. And finally, please tell us all how the wonderful HTFC World came about and any what we can expect to see from you this season.
I first started it in 1999. I used to read a Fulham site (Ormondroyd’s Match Reports) who did a similar style of reports after he’d taken the idea from a Wealdstone site. I wasn’t that great at drawing so figured I’d use photographs to save me a lot of the hassle. This helped set it apart from any other site as there wasn’t much use of graphics on the web back then – most articles would have a single image along with a load of text because of the low bandwidth available.
I just wanted to take the p*** out of football. I’d always been a season ticket holder at Town but at school we were split into three main groups – Huddersfield fans, Leeds fans and glory seeking Manchester United and Liverpool fans. Given Leeds were quite successful back in those days, football conversations usually revolved around the other two groups belittling the Huddersfield fans. When we lost 10-1 to Manchester City back in 1987, I soon figured out the easiest way to cope with being a Town fan was just to embrace the gallows humour and laugh at our shortcomings. Fans of a similar mind seem to enjoy the reports whereas those who can’t easily laugh at themselves (Leeds and Sheffield Wednesday, from experience) seem to get really angry about them. This sort of reaction is often more rewarding than praise.
This will probably be my last full season of reports (I normally do about eight a season these days) but I do intend on covering the Palace match presuming I can get a decent vantage point from which to get the footage I need. I was going to give them up and concentrate on videos if we hadn’t been promoted but I figured one season of Premier League reports would give me enough new material to produce a few more.