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It has been an eventful year for Huddersfield Town.
Last summer, manager David Wagner was preparing a squad for what pundits expected a relegation battle in the Championship for the team from West Yorkshire.
Instead, Wagner masterminded an phenomenal feat and led Huddersfield to the glamour and riches of the Premier League. However, pundits again are expecting another gruelling season for Huddersfield and apparent imminent return to the second tier beckons.
Nevertheless, Wagner and his team have defied the odds before and one can expect they will give it a real go against the big boys. Here, one will look at the positives and negatives of Huddersfield’s inaugural season in the Premier League.
Manager: David Wagner
It has been an active couple of seasons for David Wagner.
Brought in to steer the ship and consolidate Huddersfield’s status in the Championship, Wagner went one step better and took them up to the top flight for the first time since 1973.
From the start of the 16/17 season, Wagner introduced a consistent and strict discipline, which put Huddersfield in around the play-offs all season before beating Reading on penalties at Wembley. From the positive perspective from Wagner is that he introduced a winning mentality from Germany and one would hope it continues for the coming season.
Additionally, Wagner had worked alongside now Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp when the latter was manager of Borussia Dortmund, while the former was in charge of the second team. Learning from Klopp would give Wagner an insight of how to cope with the pressure that to comes with managing in the Premier League.
From the negative perception, Wagner is still learning as a manager as Huddersfield is seen as his first proper job. Secondly, Wagner has no managerial top flight experience, which would affect any new teams chances in the league.
However, one must point towards the work of Eddie Howe, Sean Dyche and Tony Pulis, who all arrived with their respective teams without top flight experience.
Although Sean Dyche is the only one out of the three that suffered relegation on the first attempt, he steered Burnley back to the top and consolidate their position last season. This suggests Wagner’s ill experience at the top may not be a decisive factor.
Early summer dealings
Huddersfield did not hesitate in the transfer market this summer.
With ten players brought in to bring more in-depth numbers and provide more flexibility, Huddersfield have splashed the cash in order to be competitive.
This is seen as a similar move last year as Wagner brought in new players in the early weeks and integrated with the players already in the team.
Wagner also took the whole squad on a bonding trip to an isolated island in order to make his team more united. Some of the players suggested this assisted their promotion push as they grew closer as a collective group and were not disrupted by late summer signings.
However, the new acquisitions have little or no Premier League experience, which may prove crucial later on in the season. Only Tom Ince has Premier League experience from his brief spells at Crystal Palace and Hull City but failed to settle at either club.
Although signings such as Benin striker Steve Mounie and defender Danny Williams, who have experience in Ligue 1 and Bundesliga respectfully and may provide insight of how to cope at the top level; the Premier League is another level due to the competitiveness and extensive richness of the clubs within the league.
Nevertheless, if Wagner can form a well drilled collective team, Huddersfield will have a chance like any other team to survive.
Is The John Smith’s stadium a fortress?
A rule of thumb for all teams who want to beat the drop is make your stadium a fortress. For Huddersfield, six home defeats out of 23, including 15 victories suggest they have that mentality.
Although last year’s statistics are irrelevant when the new season commences, the fact is that Huddersfield have the mindset of picking of points at home, which will provide them with confidence. Burnley can provide a clear example of good home form.
Last season, Burnley won ten of their home matches, picking up 33 points in total at Turf Moor on their return to the top flight. This is was seen as more impressive as they only accumulated 6 points away from home, which clarifies that Burnley’s home form kept them up.
A similar performance by Huddersfield at home may do the trick.
Address the defence or attack
Despite their success, Huddersfield do contain flaws from last season, one being their defence. Last season, Huddersfield finished with -2 goal difference, conceding 58 in the process.
Additionally, they were the only team in the top eleven who had a minus goal difference at the end of the season. However, one can point at Huddersfield’s defence and how it was the eighth best in the league, which implies that it was their attack that needs correcting.
Only two of their players got 10 or more league goals. Despite these issues, Huddersfield were able to defy the odds and make it to the top flight.
Also, the acquisition of Steve Mounie, Thomas Ince and the permanent signing of Elias Kachunga (last season’s top goal scorer) signifies Wagner is addressing Huddersfield’s attack, while the signing of Williams and Scott Malone provides more options at the back.
The evidence above suggest that Huddersfield will have their work cut out if they want to stay in the top flight.
Little or no Premier League experience from the summer signings, lack of top flight managerial experience for David Wagner and an attack and defence to address signifies that Huddersfield may be in a relegation fight throughout the whole of the season.
However, this has not always been the case as clubs in recent years such as Wigan, Stoke, Bournemouth, Hull and Swansea survived their first season in the Premier League, with the likes of Stoke, Swansea and Bournemouth becoming regulars.
This gives Huddersfield the chance to emulate these clubs and become a main stay in the Premier League.
Written by James Reidy
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