Welcome back to my 3rd season with Huddersfield Town, the previous post took you through the pre-season heading into my first Premier League campaign with The Terriers, this post will tell you exactly how it went! Hold on tight!
Like my other end of season posts let’s not hang about so let’s dive straight into the deep end and show you how the Premier League table ended.
Yes that’s right we managed to avoid the drop, we were one of the favourites to go down but a late end of season rally, a bit like the previous season to gain promotion kept us up. But like the previous season it wasn’t all plain sailing, at one point I was summoned to the Chairman’s office for discussions about my job. Here’s how the season went:
The season started with a home game against Man United and we more than held our own, losing 1-0 to a late Icardi goal. This was followed up by a shocker of a performance losing 2-0 to Derby. We the grabbed our first win beating WBA followed up by a 2-2 draw away to Sunderland. The came two absolute batterings at the hands of Leicester (1-4) and Chelsea (0-5). We just weren’t performing well at all as you can see. The suddenly out of the blue came a stormer of a game as we beat Newcastle 5-1. You would expect this to mean the start of a nice run of form, how wrong you would be! We lost the next two to Man City and Everton, won one against Brentford then came the feared dip as we went on a shocking run of epic proportions, we managed to lose the next 6 games, then came a draw and 2 more defeats. The final defeat was away to Man United, the performance was terrible as this was the point in which the board called me in.
The performance against Man United was so bad they wanted answers, why were we so poor? What can I do to turn it around? I don’t think I’ve ever been in this situation before, somehow I came out smelling of rose, I told the board we lost to a very good Man United team and I promised them performances would get better. They listened and agreed and sent me on my way with my tail between my legs.
Did performances get better? Yes sort of, did results? Not really but we stopped losing! We ended the year with 2 solid draws, both could and should have been wins but a draw is better than nothing. But at this point we were stone dead last. 14 points from 22 games were nothing short of awful and I needed to do something.
I went to the board and asked them for more funds and surprisingly even though my job at this point was “precarious” they obliged, and wow what budgets they were!
£26m in transfers and a spare £250k in wages, I didn’t want to do too much tinkering with the team but felt we needed some fresh faces, not only because we had lost Batshuayi for 6 months and this left is woefully short up front. Bunn was out for 3 months and worst of all Kasey Palmer, my main man was out for 11 months. I don’t think I’ve ever had so many long term injuries in a save ever.
So I went out and grabbed 2 new players and here they are:
Charlie Austin – Striker (£2.2m from Southampton)
Charlie popped up on the transfer list and also fitted my base attribute filter, he has some great physical and mental attributes and also has Premier League experience, he will be a man-made replacement for Batshuayi
Jordan Veretout – Central Midfielder (£10m from Aston Villa)
I don’t know much about this guy but like Austin fitted the base attributes and wanted to leave Villa, for £10m he was a steal and as you will see further down was one of the main reasons we stayed up
No player was to leave and they were my only 2 signings, this prompted the turnaround we were looking for, a defeat to Leicester followed but we did play much better, then came our first win in 12 games and what a win it was. Total park the bus football and we beat Chelsea 1-0, and this included a Hazard penalty miss. Morale instantly got a boost and I started to feel we could do this.
In February we played 5, won 1l, drew 2 and lost 2, the defeats to Arsenal and Man City, the win against Everton, all the game were tight and you could see the players were bang up for this. Those 5 points along with the win against Chelsea moved us off the bottom of the league and closing down the team just above the bottom 3.
Only 3 games in March which bought about 2 wins both against our nearest rivals (Norwich and Brentford), we also lost a game, at home, to Watford 3-0. An absolute stinker of a game to be honest.
There were 6 games to go and we currently sat 17th, 1 place above the bottom 3 but only 1 point clear. Then came the run, not as many wins as last season but including the Norwich win we amassed 4 wins in a row, this had guaranteed safety with 3 games to spare. Which was lucky as we then faced Liverpool (draw 0-) and Spurs (loss 2-0), in our final game we beat Sunderland at home 2-0 to finish 13th in the league.
What a season….and breath!
I really did at one point think I was going to get sacked, I even tweeted asking what I should do if I did, but I thrive on pressure and I managed to bring a couple of players in who raised morale and helped the team claw themselves away from relegation.
Here is the graph showing our position each game.
As you can see after 25 games we sat bottom of the league, what a turnaround! Kinda remind me of Leicester, maybe we will go on and win the League next season….I wish!!
Now at this point I would take you through how amazing our cup runs were but to be honest there is literally no point! In the League cup we lost in 2nd round to Bolton, fielding a reserve team we played crap and deserved to go out. In the FA Cup we beat Forest in the 3rd Round then got dumped out 4-0 to Man United in the 4th Round. No screenshots needed to be honest, the less we say about it the better!
A quick word on the Youth Intake and like last season it was pretty dire.
Only 1 highly rated player and a couple of others who took my eye, all in all I signed up 3 and here they are:
I’m not going to waffle on about them, these 3 took my eyes as they have the majority of the attributes I’m looking for, they all need some work but they were the best of a pretty poor bunch.
End of Season Review
So who were my best performers? This season it wasn’t going to be Kasey Palmer as he spent most of the season on the sidelines.
Veretout came out as Player of the Season and as you will see blow was my standout player, he was sensational and deserved the award. Palmer still won young player of the season but the poor guy won’t be back until somewhere near Christmas.
Lingard and Pritchard, both summer signings ended joint top scorers and played a major part in the club’s survival.
And here is my best 11, confusing to be honest, Hiwula up front played 7 games all season! This kinda tells you how bad Batshuayi was before he got injured and Austin didn’t have enough time to make his mark and is now also injured!
Borthwick-Jackson forced his way in at LB ahead of Lowe but I probably won’t be keeping around next season and will look to buy a new LB.
Paurevic as DM was really good and deserved his place in the best 11.
So who in my eyes were the standout performers?
Firstly lets talk about Veretout.
What a 2nd half of the season he had, 15 games, 4 goals, 6 assists and 2 POTMs, he averaged 7.9 in the league. What a guy and what a signing!
Secondly is one of my mainstays since I joined Tommy Smith
He has well and truly cemented his spot as my first choice RB and is getting better and better every game. 35 games played and an average rating of 7.4 he was amazing.
Plans for Next Season
Well the budgets are in and my god how good are they!
£50m to spend? What the hell. Safe to safe I won’t be spending it, the players showed they are up to the task so apart from a backup GK and a new LB I will be keeping my signings down to a minimum and possibly looking at spending some cash on Youth players for the future.
The board has once again upgraded the training and youth facilities at a cost of £6.5m, this will take them both to Top as far as I’m aware.
Finances are also looking really good, each month this season we made a profit minimum £6m, we gained £9.4m a month from the TV deal and spent around £2m a month on wages so finances went from -£20m after all our summer signings to +£20m. And is projected to be £100m at the end of next season. Huddersfield is well and truly set to start going places.
The board has just given me another 3-year deal which is great, I really hope next season we can once again stave off relegation and start moving up the table.
Thanks for reading and speak to you all soon