Huddersfield Town Season Preview: upsetting the odds

Having resided in the fourth tier as recently as 2004, Huddersfield Town will play in England’s top flight next season for the first time in 45 years. Not only did they win that historic promotion last term, they achieved it whilst playing at times the most exciting football in the Championship. The Town Bible reflects on one of the club’s best seasons of all time…

It was a different experience to be beating big clubs week in week out as we have always been the whipping boys. You could tell from the first week of the season we meant business, and we grew from strength to strength throughout. It was a joy to watch.

You won the play-offs without winning a game in open play, or scoring a goal from one of your own players. In tight contests, was it the heroics of Danny Ward that made the difference?

Every player played their part: from Quaner who changed the Wednesday game; Hogg who was faultless all throughout the play offs; to Wells, Mooy, Löwe who scored in both penalty shootouts. Ward was immense, and after negative press from a lot of Town fans, it was nice to see him prove them wrong.

The club signed seven players from Germany last season and at least five of them instantly became household names. Why do you think your recruitment has proved so successful?

Wagner and our ex footballing director Webber recruited very well last summer. We brought in a lot of players who were previously captains at their old clubs (Hefele, Schindler, Löwe etc) meaning we were a team of leaders. The German signings had to speak good English, and had to be fit and hungry to improve. The character and mix of the group last season was perfect.

The advantage you might have over your competitors is pace in forward areas. Do you see Rajiv Van La Parra and new signing Tom Ince posing a threat on the break?

Absolutely. VLP has his critics, but I think he is outstanding at taking the ball from deep and driving us forward. He might not get the goals and assists we’d hoped for but his build up play is excellent. I think he could pose a very serious threat on the break with his pace and skills, and hopefully he can add a few more goals this season.

You’ve signed two big strikers this summer, Laurent Depoitre and your record signing Steve Mounie. Might Nahki Wells have to settle for a place on the bench?

I see Mounié being first choice striker this year, with Wells and Depoitre on the bench for a start. All three are very different options, and it will be interesting to see how each perform in the Premier League.

Full-backs Tommy Smith and Chris Loewe got forward at will in the Championship, as did Scott Malone when at Fulham. Might they have to be more disciplined at a higher level?

I don’t think we will change our style of play. They will have to be more disciplined to an extent as this league is unforgiving, but I wouldn’t want us to change how we play.

Smith formed a strong partnership with loanee Elias Kachunga down the right. Are you pleased to sign the latter on a permanent deal?

Absolutely. EK has looked very sharp in pre-season also, and I feel he will be a very strong player this season.

Aaron Mooy dictated the play for you last season. You must be delighted that he has signed on a permanent deal?

Aaron was our player of the year last season, and is the best player I have seen play for us since I started going in 2003. I didn’t believe we would sign him permanently as I felt he might get game time for City this year, but Dean Hoyle and co. have done very well to sign him. It is fantastic news.

19 days after a career-threatening injury at Bristol City in March, Jonathan Hogg started the 3-0 win over Norwich, before helping his side win promotion at Wembley in May. That must be one of the stories of the season…

Jonathan Hogg doesn’t seem human at times, he is indestructible! Every Town fan was very scared when he was down for 10+ minutes at Bristol City, but to see him come back so quickly was a huge boost. Then to perform like he did in the play offs, it was an amazing story.

Mathias Jorgensen had a good Europa League campaign for Copenhagen last year. Do you see him shaking up the centre-back pairing of Michael Hefele and Christopher Schindler?

Most definitely. I am not sure if Hefele will be starting as much this year with the addition of Jorgensen, but last season the pair were very solid.

Huddersfield aside, what are your thoughts ahead of the Premier League season as a whole?

A few predictions:
Chelsea to win the league.
Tottenham, Man Utd and Man City to make up the top 4.
Liverpool to win FA Cup, Everton to win the League Cup.
Brighton, Watford and Burnley to be relegated.
Top scorer: Lukaku or Kane.
I think Rooney will be a big hit at Everton, one to put in the fantasy football team.
First manager sacked: Mark Hughes.

Where will you finish?

My head says that we will probably be in the bottom 3, but heart says 17th. 17th would be fantastic.

The Football Lab’s Verdict

Having signed players of European pedigree, Huddersfield Town have strengthened significantly. They boast arguably the best deep playmaker outside the elite in Mooy, his creativity maximized by pace in wide areas and physicality up top. With the bond between club and fans closer than ever, the unified Terriers could be the story of the season. 13th 

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