Dave Craven: Huddersfield Giants progressed under Paul Anderson but had become stale

Paul Anderson was sacked as Huddersfield Giants head coach on Thursday.
Paul Anderson was sacked as Huddersfield Giants head coach on Thursday.
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IT IS never nice to see a coach get the sack.

When you look at the work they put in, you soon recognise it is truly a 24/7 role that requires so much dedication and a vast array of skills to get to the point where fans can sit back and watch 80 minutes on a weekend.

It is such a perilous position, too; if results do not go your way it is the coach, not the under-performing players, who get the bullet.

That always seems grossly unfair but, of course, it is the nature of the beast and, so, Paul Anderson – having been relieved of his duties at Huddersfield Giants this week – will know all too well that decision had been coming.

There is no questioning the work ethic and integrity of Baloo – as he is known throughout the game – given what he has done with the Fartowners, but results don’t lie.

They had picked up just four wins in 18 games when the axe swung and there is fair argument Ken Davy could have acted sooner.

However, Anderson had plenty of credit in the bank – he guided them to the League Leaders’ Shield in 2013, the first time 
the West Yorkshire club had finished top in 81 years, and consistently achieved top-four finishes.

Indeed, they reached the semi-finals of the new-fangled Super 8s last season only to be ruthlessly outplayed by Wigan Warriors.

There was perhaps a sign that Anderson had taken Huddersfield as far as he could; it had become a familiar tale – working diligently all season but missing the requisite killer instinct to actually reach a maiden Grand Final and win the Super League title they so often looked capable of.

However, for all that their latest semi-final disappointment was painful, few could have envisaged them slumping as far as they did this time around, falling to joint-bottom at the point of Anderson’s exit.

Granted, there have been some mitigating circumstances.

Losing Brett Ferres, his vice-captain and England second-row, on the eve of the season to Leeds Rhinos was due to issues completely out of the coach’s control, as was seeing Luke Robinson, his experienced 
and influential hooker, forced into early retirement soon 
after.

Prop Craig Huby has had rotten luck with injuries as have others but their squad looked light to start with and Danny Brough, Huddersfield’s captain, was vocal in saying that before the campaign began.

Nevertheless, with the investment ploughed into the club by Davy – on and off the field – there had to be better dividends.

If Giants had lost in style, at least, there may have been more support for Anderson but they had become increasingly one-dimensional, none more so than when losing 10-2 at home to Wakefield on Sunday in a dour, mundane showing.

Huddersfield had become renowned for predictable, safety-first football, often not attempting any ball movement of note when coming away from their own end and, when they did have opportunities, they rarely looked slick.

It is strange as, under Anderson in 2013, they played a far more attractive style with great success.

Allowing Shaun Lunt, their hooker that year, leave for Hull KR was always one of the more baffling of the coach’s decisions.

He gave them so much direction, even if there was defensive concerns, and they have not seemed the same side since.

It will be interesting to see who Davy goes with next given the remit might now have changed; six months ago, the benevolent chairman could have sought someone to make that final, crucial step to achieving silverware.

Now, though, it remains to be seen whether Huddersfield are still an attractive proposition.

They will hope caretaker coach Andy Kelly can lift them to successfully negotiate the Challenge Cup quarter-final v Wakefield on Thursday before using his lower league experience in the Qualifiers and potential relegation fight which will undoubtedly come.