EFL Team In Focus: tenacious Terriers look exciting but raw

An In-depth look at Huddersfield Town

Huddersfield are an exciting proposition.

Their problem in their two Premier League campaigns had been a shortage of goals, with just 50 scored in 76.

There were glimpses of head coach Jan Siewert rectifying that issue, albeit in a lower division, in Monday’s 2-1 defeat to Derby.

Huddersfield looked strong in the press and explosive in transition, with the direct running of Adama Diakhaby causing real problems allied with the creativity of Alex Pritchard, who looks rejuvenated after one or two question marks over his conduct last season.

Plus, they possess a potentially predatory striker in Karlan Grant, who showed signs of life in the second half of the previous campaign and got off the mark this year from the spot.

Whenever there is a gap between the opposing team’s defence and midfield, therefore, Huddersfield appear to have the tools to take advantage.

Where might they struggle this season?

Where the Terriers may struggle, though, is when they cannot instantly find those pockets in transition; Derby were more compact after the interval and consequently the West Yorkshire side were at times forced to play at a slower tempo, which did not suit them.

There are question marks over whether Tommy Elphick and Christopher Schindler, despite having been promoted previously with possession-based sides, offer as much assurance when playing out from the back as other centre-backs at this level.

Plus, one might also have doubts over the full-backs.

When Town were promoted in 2016-17, right-back Tommy Smith’s partnership with Elias Kachunga was a key feature of their play and Chris Loewe supported attacks well too – this year, it’s difficult to imagine the current crop of full-backs delivering quite the same standards.

Right-back Florent Hadergjonaj was willing to get forward on Monday, but his ability in possession – especially crossing - is very limited; Rodney Kongolo, meanwhile, is arguably better as a centre-back than in his most recent position of left-back.

Ball-winner Jonathan Hogg remains a gallant leader, although it is doubtful whether he will have the legs to play at a high intensity for 46 games and Siewert may need to think about how he manages the stalwart’s minutes.

The German does, though, possess midfield creativity in Aaron Mooy and Juninho Bacuna, who further lifted the performance against the Rams when they got on the ball high up the pitch in the second half on Monday.

Making any assumptions

While it’s too early to draw any conclusive judgements about where the Terriers are within this division, the first game gave us some hints as to their characteristics.

They appear to play on momentum: once they get one goal, confidence will coarse through their veins, opponents can be stunned to an extent and it is possible that they could score two or three goals in half-hour chunks, perhaps not unlike Preston North End.

Conversely, it is also possible that Huddersfield will lack a certain element of composure when these high-energy attacks do not work – which will happen when fatigue creeps in, or when opposing teams organize themselves.

Overall, we can expect to see a side that is tenacious, fearless and brilliant in bursts, but also error-prone, erratic and inconsistent.

The target for Jan Siewert will be to establish his side in the top half this season – they are 10/11 with BetVictor to achieve that objective.

Siewert must lure fans with enough thrills to believe that better times will come, giving him a second summer to then complete the squad with the finishing touches.

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