2018/19 – Huddersfield Town Season Preview

Huddersfield Town Preview

Founded: 1908

Nickname: The Terriers

Home Ground: Kirklees Stadium

Trophy Room:

  • 3 English Premier League Titles, 1 FA Cup Title

Manager: David Wagner

Current Squad

Huddersfield Town FC Roster

In 2017, Huddersfield Town returned to top-flight soccer for the first time since 1972. 45 years later, the Terriers got their first taste of the English Premier League and managed to survive and avoid relegation in their comeback season.

After finishing 16th last season, Huddersfield Town will be looking to improve on that performance as they try to establish themselves as a regular English Premier League club.

I have prepared an overview of main Huddersfield Town storylines and a short preview for the upcoming English Premier League season.

Previous Season Summary

Finish: 16th

Huddersfield Town entered the 2017/18 English Premier League season as a newly promoted club and one of the main favorites to be relegated back to the English Championship. Knowing that their survival was at stake, the Terriers created a plan to avoid relegation.

It all came to rigorous offseason preparations and getting off to a hot start, as the rest of the Premier League teams are targeting their peak towards the end of the season. In order to achieve that, Huddersfield Town played 9 friendly preparation games before the season, by far the most among all Premier League clubs.

And it worked. Huddersfield Town came out guns blazing, winning their first two games of the season, by defeating Crystal Palace 3-0 and Newcastle 1-0. The Terriers went on to collect more points, as they lost only 1 out of their next 6 games.

With the club safely placed mid-table, Huddersfield Town hit a wall in their first season in top-flight and put together a poor run of results, losing 13 out of their next 20 games and almost dropping to the relegation zone.

The Terriers did recover and finish the season on the with several strong performances.

  • As draws against Chelsea and Manchester City
  • Wins against Watford, West Bromwich Albion and Bournemouth

Good enough for the 16th place in the English Premier League.

Huddersfield Town’s successful campaign can be attributed to their opportunism, as they managed to win games or extract points from the matchups with potential rivals battling to avoid relegation. Otherwise, The Terriers were ranked dead last offensively in the English Premier League, scoring only 28 goals in 38 matches.

Still, Huddersfield town supporters have plenty of reason to be happy with the Terrier’s campaign. With the upcoming English Premier Season expected to be more competitive than ever, Huddersfield Town once again will have everything to fight for.

Key Additions and Departures

The focus of Huddersfield Town’s offseason was on keeping their current core intact, before strengthening the roster. The Terriers do not have a large budget to spend anyway and have been crafty to go through the previous season with a number of loaned players.

The prioritized signing those loaned players first. Terence Kongolo, center back from Monaco was the first addition and Huddersfield Town paid a GBP 20 million fee for him. The next one to sign was right back Florent Hadergjonaj for a GBP 5 million fee from Ingolstadt. Finally, goalkeeper Jonas Lossl was signed for a GBP 2.5 million fee from Mainz 05.

With their previous loan players signed, The Terriers went on a shopping spree to strengthen their squad.

The most notable move:

The addition of forward Adama Diakhaby from Monaco for a GBP 10 million fee. Diakhaby is expected to help revitalize Huddersfield Town’s anemic attack.

Also, Stoke City’s left winger Ramadan Sobhi was signed for a GBP 6.5 million fee, in addition to the transfer of Groningen’s 20-year-old center midfielder Juninho Bacuna for a GBP 2.5 million fee. It is obvious that Huddersfield is focusing on revamping their offensive capacity and becoming a more balanced team in the offseason.

They even found value on the free transfer, as they added right back Erik Durm whose contract with Borussia Dortmund has expired, as well as goalkeepers Ben Hamer from Leicester City and Gabriel Rosario from Reading. The departure of Robert Green to Chelsea has left the Terriers vulnerable at the position, so they have added 3 goalkeepers in the offseason.

The main departures:
  • The right winger Tom Ince who moved to Stoke City for a GBP 11.2 million fee
  • The already mentioned free transfer of the goalkeeper Robert Green to Chelsea
  • Another significant loss was the retirement of veteran midfielder and leader Dean Whitehead

Left-back Tareiq Holmes-Dennis joined Bristol Rovers and right winger Sean Scannell joined Bradford City for undisclosed but minor fees.

Huddersfield Town are probably done adding players to their roster, since the majority of their transfer budget has already been spent.
The fact that they were able to keep their core from the previous season, rebuild the goalkeeper position and strengthen their offense bodes well for the Terriers.

Style of Play

David Wagner has been at Huddersfield Town since 2015 and is one of the most deserving individuals for the Terrier’s resurgence and return to the English Premier League. Wagner has introduced a modern system at Kirklees Stadium, which has helped them win promotion to the English Premier League and avoid relegation in their first season there.

During his time at Huddersfield Town, David Wagner has mostly employed the 4-2-3-1 formation as the basis for teams offensive and defensive movement. The system, at least defensively, resembles most Jurgen Klopp’s system from Borussia Dortmund and now Liverpool.

The Terriers play a constant pressing game as soon as they lose possession. The defenders are pressing the ball and players in packs, always trying to achieve a 3 to 2 advantage in the press versus the players in possession of the ball. All players outside of the goalkeeper participate in the pressing, trying to pack the pitch around the ball as much as possible and restrict ball movement.

Such defensive pressure and playing style requires a supremely conditioned team, athletic defenders and communication. This is why David Wagner insisted on keeping the Huddersfield Town core intact this offseason, since it takes time to become proficient in the system.

Offensively the goal is to get the ball forward to forwards and wingers as soon as possible, often utilizing direct passing. Front 4 players, central forwards, wingers and the attacking midfielder lead the offense and especially on the counter-attack are tasked with getting upfield as soon as possible, putting a lot of pressure on the defense.

This, in turn, opens up the midfield space for the players with the possession of the ball to push forward unobstructed and make better decisions with the ball. The transition from defense to offense is key, as the pace is essential to successful counter-attacking.

Offensive problems:

One of the biggest reasons why Huddersfield Town struggled offensively during their last English Premier League season was the inability of forwards and wingers to win their individual battles, which is something that Wagner’s system requires.

Getting the ball forward as quickly as possible requires forwards and wingers that are able to keep possession of it and make good decisions with the ball when the defense is not giving them a lot of options. Since the fullbacks and other midfielders will come forward in the support of the attacking movement, wingers and forwards have to be able to put the ball in the right spot when they are covered.

Wagner’s system has its problems, especially when dealing with teams that excel at using the width of the field and can successfully overload a single side in the formation. Huddersfield Town is trying to compact the field and make it difficult to pass the ball through the midfield, rather focusing the passing to the flanks.

Teams that have world-class talent at the wing positions can successfully utilize this freedom to get upfield as many times as possible and either create goal scoring chances or try to score themselves. Same goes for teams that excel at overlapping wingers and fullbacks. Once Huddersfield Towns’s fullbacks move upfield to press the opponent, there is a lot of room on the wings for the opposing fullbacks, wingers and midfielders to utilize.

Nevertheless, Huddersfield Town have demonstrated magnificent team spirit and unity through all the hardships of their English Premier League season and came out as survivors. This experience can certainly only benefit the team in the long run.

2018/19 Season Expectations and Predictions

After finishing the 2017/18 English Premier League in the 16th place and securing at least another year of top-flight soccer, Huddersfield Town have gone out and tried to secure the core of their squad and bring the necessary reinforcements.

The following English Premier League season is expected to be one of the most competitive ones in the recent memory, as the newly promoted teams like Wolverhampton and Fulham have increased their spending and are building quality rosters. The relegation battle is going to be ruthless.

Their early schedule looks terrifying and very challenging. The Terriers will open their Premier League campaign by hosting the giants Chelsea, only to follow that up with a road trip to the current English Premier League champs Manchester City. Even the biggest optimists will find it hard to believe that Huddersfield Town will win a lot of points in those two games.

The second month of the season will also bring its challenges, like away games at Everton and Leicester City, as well as the home battle with the Big 6 giants Tottenham. For the team that relied heavily on a good start to get them through their first English Premier League season, the task just got a lot of harder.

The Terriers did manage to strengthen their squad in the offseason, with major acquisitions such as Terence Kongolo and Adama Diakhaby from Monaco, Ramadhan Sobhi from Stoke City, Erik Durm from Borussia Dortmund and Juninho Bacuna from Groningen. It will be up to David Wagner to successfully integrate all these new players into his system.

This at the same time is one of the main reasons why I think it will be difficult for Huddersfield Town to get off to a hot start like last season. The good news is that schedule is much more favorable for the Terriers in October and November.

I have tremendous respect for what Huddersfield Town have down the last few years but I still find it difficult to convince myself that they will be good enough to repeat their last year’s result. None of the transfers seem like a difference maker at this point and a large influx of new players can cause a lot of chemistry and communication issues.

For that reason, and that reason only, I believe that Huddersfield Town will fail to keep their head above water and will be relegated at the end of the season.

Projected Finish: 19th

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