Welcome back to my 4th season at Huddersfield Town. We managed to stay up last season which at one point looked pretty difficult. Bottom at Christmas we managed to string some very good results together at the end of the season to end 13th in the League. So my 2nd season in the Premiership, survival is once again my priority. This post will take you through all my dealings in the summer and my hopes and aims for the season ahead.
Firstly let’s go through the transfers, the board has given us some crazy budgets this season, £50m in transfers and around £350k in spare wage budget is crazy, but with finances only heading one way I can see why they have done it. We are projected to make around £40m this season due to TV Revenue and our wages being low.
Firstly let’s go through the out’s
Quite a few but no-one of note. No fees came in but I really didn’t want to lose any of the first team. They all performed so well last season and deserve to be given the chance again. The only first-teamers to leave were Dean Whitehead (Retired) and Florent Bojaj (Out of Contract). Neither were of any loss.
A few of my prospects have gone out on loan, Ford and Pyke have both gone to Motherwell, both look decent and are improving well but still way off a first-team spot. Dempsey is now 22 but still isn’t good enough to force the likes of Butterfield or Palmer out of the team so has gone on another season-long loan to Partick.
I just want to talk through my plans with my transfers. I mentioned in my previous post that I didn’t need to spend a lot of money on first-teamers. We were losing Borthwick-Jackson so a new LB is needed as is a new backup GK. I could also do with another backup Striker and a CB. I want to give the 15-18 players who helped us survive the last season every chance to do it this campaign so only backup first-teamers are required.
My main plan is to bring in some prospects, players who are young but have the attributes I want in a Huddersfield player. The youth intakes have been poor even though our facilities keep getting upgraded so I want to divert around the intake and take things into my own hands. I had been searching the youth intakes and squads for players who fit the bill and had around 10-15 I wanted to put offers in for. I managed to get in 6 of them and in total made 10 signings.
And here are all the signings:
Ben Oliver – Goalkeeper (£1m from Fulham)
My back-up to Ben Garratt, I’ve been monitoring this guy for a season now and his attributes are improving well. He has good handling, one on ones, command of area and reflexes as well as good mental and physical attributes. I will have him tutored by Garratt to hopefully improve him some more.
Ben Davies – Left Back (£10m from Norwich)
A pricey signing but a really needed a good LB. Lowe who has been my first choice LB in the previous 3 seasons has been playing well but compared to RB Tommy Smith is miles behind. Ben Davies for me is a step up from Lowe. His attributes all round are really good and will provide me more of an attacking threat down the left side but also be solid in defence with his good mental attributes.
Tommy Hoban – Central Defender (Season long loan from Watford)
I have faith in Schindler, Ebanks-Landell and Stephens but needed a decent solid 4th choice CB. Hoban popped up and for a CB looks really good. He has decent heading, marking and tackling along with all the mental and phyiscal attributes I want in a CB.
Ross Ridgers – Striker (£750k from Inverness)
Remember this guy? I spoke about him in my Season 3 post as one of my targets for the future. Ridgers popped us as wanting to leave Inverness so I capitalised. His attributes are increasing fast as well and hopefully with a bit of tutoring off of Charlie Austin can start pushing Austin and Michy for a starting spot in a couple of seasons.
Martin Allen – Left Winger (£275k from Ipswich)
Yes he needs a lot of improvement on his technical side of his game but he has all the mental and physical attributes I want. He has really good flair, determination, pace, stamina, teamwork and work rate. He will be tutored by Harry Bunn who I can feel can be huge influence on his game. Hopefully in a season or two I will see his technical stats increasing.
Eric Graf – Defensive Midfielder (£3.7m from Bayern Munich)
Now I originally signed this guy as one for the future but his performances over pre-season have been nothing short of amazing. So for the start of the season he will in and around the first team. A pricey signing for a prospect but he looks really good. As most of my signings he has some good physical and mental attributes, he needs to improve on his passing and first touch though and will be tutored by Jonathon Hogg.
Adrian Hartshorn – Central Defender (£325k from Swansea)
Another future prospect, I may send this guy out on loan for a season or two witgh a view to putting him in the first team. His heading and jumping need massive improvement first. His strength and agility and pace are what attracted me to him. Hopefully he will begin to improve other parts of his game either on loan or in the under 18’s.
Fabrice Owen – Striker (£185k from Fulham)
Another cheap prospect with no add-ons. He has all the base attributes I want in a player but does need some major improvement on his finishing and natural fitness. He wasn’t my first choice Striker youth prospect but at £185k it was a gamble I think that will be worth it.
Lewis Smith – Left Back/Left Midfield (£775k from Bolton)
Another youth signing with great physical attributes. He also has good teamwork, decisions and determination. Similarly to other signings he needs to work on his technical side, I have him being tutored by Ben Davies so hopefully I will see that improve over a season or two.
Michael Wallace – Right Back (£700k from St. Johnstone)
A really decent looking prospect and I think I may have him in my starting first team to be backup to Tommy Smith. For a wing back he has everything you want including some helpful PPMs. Like the other signings his phyiscal and mental attributes were what drew me to him but he also has good marking and passing.
And that is all my signings, quite a few I know but hopefully with all those prospects being signed it will set me up for the future without me having to rely on large fees like what I paid for Ben Davies. Hopefully with the Youth Facilities being upgraded again and Youth Levels being increased the Intakes may become better.
Here is my squad for the upcoming season:
Once again we have strength in depth in all areas with 2 players per position. I have also added the attributes I look for in each of my player and as you can see nearly all have over 10 in all of them. There are odd anomolies but all will be trained to push these up.
Here is my Youth and Reserve squad:
It’s looking a damn sight better than last season. I’m still thinking whether I keep most of them here and get them tutored and trained by my own staff whilst playing reserve and youth team football or send them out on loan. I will see how the progress through the season and then make decisions.
Season Aims and Expectations
Firstly my own expectations are to improve on last season. 13th place and 41 points last season was amazing so anything above that would be success for me this season. I also want a good cup run. We have had nothing whatsoever since our FA Cup run in season 1 so I really want a decent run in either cup. I will still blood my reserves and youngsters in the League Cup but go all out in the FA Cup to try and reach the final and hopefully win it.
I also want to keep the finances ticking over. Projections have dropped a but since the beginning of pre-season but we are still expected to make quite a bit of money. I want to keep improving the facilities and also try and increase attendances to hopefully build a new stadium at some point.
Once again the season preview odds have us at 2000-1 to win the league but we are actually forecasted to end lower than we were forecast last season, only because there are less teams set at 2000-1. I’m actually quite shocked about our odds, we came 13th last season so you would expect us to be predicted a bit higher than that.
As for the board expectations it’s prety much as I expected, we have been asked to avoud relegation and get through a few rounds in both the cups. Very fair in my eyes and hopefully I can exceed all 3 of those.
Well that’s it for now, my next update will be at the end of the seaon.
Thanks for reading and see you all soon