Huddersfield Town v Preston: Why the numbers game has changed for Jordan Rhodes

ONCE upon a time, Jordan Rhodes would have made no apologies for only being bothered about one number and with good reason.

His amount of goals in a season.

In his first spell at Huddersfield Town, his statistics were simply staggering. Eighty-seven goals in 148 games and some outstanding personal feats along the way.

It was showcased most spectacularly in 2011-12, an incredible promotion season which saw him score 40 goals in all competitions.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He became the first Town player to score back-to-back hat-tricks since the 1920s. After scoring all four goals in an away draw at Sheffield Wednesday, he eclipsed that by netting five in a 6-0 win over Wycombe.

It equalled the record for goals scored by a Town player in a match set by Dave Mangnall and Alf Lythgoe in the 1930s.

The seasoned version of Rhodes who rejoined the Terriers in the summer of 2021 is not as deadly. But in terms of his all-round play, he brings more to the table these days.

In an era when strikers are judged by all sorts of criteria and not just goals, it is significant.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
Jordan Rhodes, pictured after scoring in the EFL Cup loss against Preston in August. Huddersfield Town welcome North End in the league on Tuesday night. Picture: PA.Jordan Rhodes, pictured after scoring in the EFL Cup loss against Preston in August. Huddersfield Town welcome North End in the league on Tuesday night. Picture: PA.
Jordan Rhodes, pictured after scoring in the EFL Cup loss against Preston in August. Huddersfield Town welcome North End in the league on Tuesday night. Picture: PA.

Rhodes' four goals in 14 games in all competitions so far in 2022-23 is one ahead of his nearest Town rival. These days he takes great pride in other numbers as well.

When you are playing for a team who have had a difficult start to the season, team players get you out of a hole. Players like Rhodes, happy to do the dirty work and hard yards as much as the next man.

He said: "Football has come on and is a different beast than what it was when I was a youngster. There's so much technology with things available. I have managed to apply myself a little bit better and have tried to be a bit more aggressive and throw my body around a little bit.

"There's those big defenders, when you are a bit younger and they are ten years older than yourself. Now you find yourself being that person who is ten years older and you are not as scared or intimidated as you were once upon a time.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Football has changed in high intensity, speeds and the data and statistics that anyone can get at any given time on their smart phone and other devices. It's there to see and it's about making sure you apply yourself on and off the field."

On improving his all-round game and physicality, Rhodes, 32, continued: "I do feel like I have improved on that side. When I was younger, my sole focus as a selfish young player was on goals, goals, goals and getting those numbers up. I feel like I am a bit of a better team player now.

"I work harder on all aspects of my game, physical stats and day to day training and make sure that I come up off with data that is in the top four or five players of the team and try not to let those levels drop.”

Rhodes would have been clear at the top of the scoring charts for Town if he had been a little bit sharper in the weekend loss at Rotherham United.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A couple of half-decent chances passed him by. It probably did not make for the best weekend in truth, but come Monday morning he was over it. Experience helps you move on quicker .

Rhodes, who netted in the EFL Cup tie between these sides in August, said: "I am always a little bit hard on myself and always have been in my career.

"It is hard sometimes, as you focus on the negatives. The more and more I have got older, I have tried to get myself home and look after the kids and take the dog out for a walk to take your mind off stuff. So it has got a bit easier.

"But certainly in my younger years, if you have scored a couple and missed a couple, you focus on the ones you miss rather than taking the positives out of stuff.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"With the game at the weekend, I did not feel I had many positives to take out of it. I was a bit hard and down on myself.

"But the relentlessness of the Championship and how the games come around thick and fast means that all those negatives thoughts must be parked and put the one side as there's a new challenge coming against Preston.

"Whoever gets called upon, it's up to us to do the best we can."

Age has also taught him plenty more as well, including an increased appreciation of candour and openness from managers.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In Mark Fotheringham, Huddersfield have a passionate and straight-down-the-line head coach.

He is not bothered about upsetting a few along the way, but there’s no recriminations either.

Players certainly know where you are with him.

Rhodes added: “The more you get older, I think you do (like it).

"You appreciate that honesty and know where you stand.

“One or two have found it a little bit difficult with that frankness, if you like, but I think it all comes from a good place and as an older player, you do appreciate that."

Last six games: Huddersfield LWLDWL; Preston LDWWLL.

Referee: A Woolmer (Northants).

Last time: Huddersfield 1 Preston 4, August 9, 2022; EFL Cup.