We catch up with Terriers fan and Town Reports‘ Martin Sykes ahead of Huddersfield Town’s visit to the Liberty Stadium this weekend.
How’s your season been so far?
A hell of a lot of fun. The opening day win was beyond our wildest dreams, followed up by a solid home win against Newcastle. Things haven’t been as smooth since, but the atmosphere home and away has been outstanding.
I boldly declared that I simply wasn’t interested in seeing other clubs’ star players before the season started, but it’s hard not to admire some of the individual brilliance of players like Kane, Eriksson, Mahrez etc and the novelty just isn’t fading at all yet.
A quick word on last term, a very successful one for the Terriers, was it as brilliant as it was unexpected?
Yes, it was remarkable – one of those rare seasons where memories were being created consistently. It was a story which started way back in June with Wagner bringing in 13 players nobody had ever heard of at bargain prices, bonding them and setting off like a train with great performances. Loads of twists and turns followed as the shallowness of the squad caught up with us, but Wagner, using judicious rotation, prepared them for the play off competition. Most will have Wembley as the highlight, but it was Hillsborough for me – amazing strength of character saw us through that night.
Who are your star players and who needs to up their game?
Aaron Mooy. Everything revolves around his ability to retain and rotate possession, accelerate and decelerate the pace of the game and find men with precision. But a long flight from Sydney midweek may see him on the bench for this one.
At the back, Schindler has been immense. Does his job with calm authority and inspires the defence around him.
Some others are finding their feet a little. Van La Parra divides opinion – his ability to get us up the pitch with genuinely tricky skills rather flounders in the final third.
Ince is a high-quality player but needs a goal and less exposure to the number 10 role in the absence of the much missed Palmer.
You broke your transfer record three times over the summer. Were you happy with the business that you did?
It was crucial to get Mooy and the most important business. The two strikers, Mounié and Depoitre give us power up top but the former’s blistering start has been upended by injury.
Ince has promise but needs a permanent place on the right.
What are your expectations this term?
Like many Town fans, I’ve seen my club in all 4 divisions (twice), some desperate times and the odd season of success amidst soul sapping boredom and spectacular failure. As a Swan, you will know what that is like and you were one of the clubs – along with Burnley – I saw as examples of what could be done on a tight budget with an unfashionable reputation.
So we stay humble, embrace our small dog identity and put our faith in the best chairman in the country (not just his work for the club but also for the community) and an innovative, charismatic manager.
If we stay up, I’ll be delighted but if we go down it won’t be for the want of effort.
What do you make of Swansea and which players if any do you fear?
It has been a little sad to see the ownership issues which have tarnished the fairytale but staying up last year amid your many problems was admirable. No club could lose Sigurdsson and Llorente without it seriously hampering preparations, so the slow start isn’t that surprising.
Tammy Abraham has caused us problems in the Championship for Bristol City and if you get on the front foot on Saturday, he would be the one I feared most. I’m not sure if the fantastic Leon Brittan still plays regularly, but he is also one who tormented us in lower division football.
Predict the score and where both teams will finish…
A single goal will settle it given both teams struggle or goals. If we stay in the game long enough, our chances increase significantly but going behind rarely ends well for us.
So, put your money on a goal fest!
Bottom 8 for both sides, I think we are more likely to be in the bottom 3 than Swansea though.