Huddersfield Town are currently on a club record run of nine consecutive defeats; eight in the league followed by the abysmal 1-0 cup loss at Bristol City. With a difficult run that includes Man City, Everton, Chelsea and Arsenal in the next five fixtures, Sunderland’s record of 15 straight defeats in 02/03 comes to mind.
The team look bereft of confidence, key player Aaron Mooy is out until the end of the month and transfer activity in the January window looks like it will be underwhelming to say the least. So far the loan of veteran midfielder Jason Puncheon from Crystal Palace is the only incoming player. While his experience and character is a welcome addition, it is far from enough to keep us in the Premier League.
Steve Mounie’s goal against Burnley in our last league game was the first and only from our strikers all season. We desperately need a proven Premier League goalscorer but with a limited budget and unattractive league position, it seems unlikely that we will get one.
The trip to Cardiff on Saturday is pretty much last chance saloon for the Terriers and even a win would leave us at least five points from safety. Last season I had little doubt that we would avoid relegation, even when we looked dead and buried to most people. This time, I feel like survival would be a miracle that is beyond even the ability of David Wagner.
Although I would like us to stay up, I am far from devastated at the prospect of relegation. Maybe it is ex post facto rationalising but there are even things about returning to the Championship that I would welcome. Here are a few of the reasons why dropping down a division wouldn’t be the end of the world for Huddersfield Town.
I feel like teams are less likely to “park the bus” outside of the Premier League. With such huge stakes and the ever-widening gulf between the top six and the rest, there is a temptation to stop the opposition rather than play your own game.
Boxing Day saw an incredible FOUR stoppage time goals in just two Championship fixtures, Leeds coming from 2-1 down to win 3-2 and Norwich snatching a 3-3 draw with goals in the 94th and 98th minutes!
Huddersfield have become increasingly negative in their approach over the last 18 months as the pressure to grind out enough points to scrape by overcomes the desire to entertain. Hopefully a return to the Championship can bring back “the old Wagner” who has given us so much joy and excitement since he arrived in Yorkshire. Plus, we may actually win a game!
Most Premier League stadiums feel pretty soulless and Town fans can often be heard chanting “is this a library?” at away games. At home, I see people sitting in silence for 90 minutes with their attention more on their phone than the match. It seems that the lower you go down the tiers of English football, the more passionate and noisy the support gets. The back and forth between supporters is an enjoyable part of the match day experience.
As enjoyable as it is to brag about being Yorkshire’s only Premier League club, the excitement of battling with our local rivals has been missing since our promotion. I would love to see a top-flight Yorkshire derby one day but would settle for Leeds doing their annual falling apart trick so that we can beat them again next season.
More games and different opposition
An extra eight matches per season is no bad thing. Facing different opposition also keeps things fresh. I don’t envy Everton fans, who have faced mostly the same opponents every season for decades, with few highs or lows to get worked up about. Every season, the Championship is revitalised with a quarter of the teams changing.
A break from big club bias
Refereeing in England is appalling at every level but at least outside the Premier League, it is consistently bad. Some of the decisions I have witnessed when we play the top teams border on criminal. It has genuinely lessened my love of the game.
Then there are the media and pundits, who fawn over the big clubs but dismiss Huddersfield as hopeless, even when we have played brilliantly. Sometimes I question whether they even bother to watch our games or just check the score and then publish their pre-written reports.
Getting away from the John Smith’s Stadium on a match day was difficult when we were getting crowds of 10,000. Now we get over double that, it is torture. I’m not sure how I feel about this one to be honest, as a full stadium is welcome but the congestion it causes really isn’t.
Inside the stadium, the same issue is present. Whether you want a pie and pint or to use the facilities, the long queues mean there’s a good chance you’ll have to miss some of the match. At our first ever Premier League home game I overheard one supporter say he wished we were back in League Two. After considering all of the above points, I might be inclined to agree with him.