Huddersfield Town v Millwall: Positive Powell to lead Town out of the trenches

Chris Powell
Chris Powell
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IT may be somewhat premature to suggest Huddersfield Town are firmly ensconced in a relegation battle but Chris Powell is preparing to don his combat fatigues as a preventative measure.

Town’s tour of Championship duty in 2014-15 is a mere eight games long, but the opening skirmishes have already produced a couple of telling body-blows. Like the crushing opening-day home loss to Bournemouth; like last weekend’s morale-sapping derby reverse at Leeds United when pride was badly hurt.

The prevailing wind suggests it could be a long and difficult season at 22nd-placed Town, with a fair few bumps in the road to come.

But supporters can rest assured that they have a leader who will stay resolute when the bullets are flying in Powell, who went through much worse at Charlton Athletic last season when tensions behind the scenes, through no fault of his own, allied to difficulties on it created something akin to a perfect storm.

Going through some pain to get to where you want to go is part of human life, not just football.

Powell did that as recently as the summer, making sacrifices to pass his Pro Licence at St George’s Park, alongside footballing luminaries including Paul Ince, Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs. That included foregoing a trip to the World Cup to pass the course, which lasted 18 months.

After balancing studies with a survival battle at Charlton, there has not been much early respite for Powell at Town, who welcome Millwall this afternoon in search of just their second league win of 2014-15 and first on home soil in 12 matches, with the winless streak stretching back to March 1.

It has been a stark introduction for Powell with just one point accrued from his three games in charge, with the Londoner the first to admit that he is not in possession of a magic wand.

The notion that in the short-term at least, things may even get worse before they get better is something Powell is not discounting either.

Powell, hurting along with everyone else connected with the club after the painful defeat at Elland Road seven days ago, said: “It is a difficult period, there is no shying away from that.

“It may continue, but we have got to make sure we are not cut adrift and keep in touch with all the sides down there because it can quickly change. But it will be tough.

“We have just got to make sure we are in there fighting and making sure we get ourselves out of it.

“The players are going to have to fight, no two ways about it as it is the only way out of it, alongside playing your football.

“It has to be a big part of it, especially when things are going against you; that is why you have to come out with your chest out and showing a bit of pride. That is part of getting yourself out of a position you do not want to be in.

“It was mistakes by us with the goals last Saturday. I do not want anyone thinking there was no fight from the players because they were hurting and disappointed. We have to have that in our psyche to make ourselves better.”

He added: “But it is about not panicking and keeping your composure and knowing you can come through it. We certainly can.

“I feel with the boys we have got and one or two more to come in, we will be able to get through it.”

The harder you practice, the luckier you get is a phrase introduced into the sporting lexicon by a golfer in Gary Player and if hard yards count for something, then, all things being equal, the rewards will come down the line for Town.

Plenty of graft has been put in at the Canalside training ground this week, with the promise of more overtime to come with Powell conscious of sorting out some serious deficiencies that are in major need of attention.

He added: “There is a lot of hard work that lies ahead for me, my players and this football club.

“But I will not shy away from that and neither will the players. We need guys to hit the ground running because we have not yet.

“There are areas to address. Some more obvious than others; the goals against column is not great, even at this early part of the season.

“We do have to strike a balance and the first clean sheet in 20 against Wigan kind of tells a story about us. That has to improve, we need to defend properly as individuals and as a team.

“But we cannot negate winning games and that is creating and trying to do our best to be on the front foot and be positive.

“That is never easy when you are down there and confidence can ebb away when results are not great.

“But we have good players here who I feel need to start doing themselves justice and have to start giving our fans something to shout about.

“I also recognise our home form is not great. We have some issues to rectify as quick as we can.”

Ugly would certainly be beautiful if Town can conjure a scrappy three points this afternoon, with the restorative qualities of a home victory, however it comes, something everyone of a blue-and-white persuasion is positively craving.

The Town chief admitted: “I would take a really ugly dour 1-0 because it would just give us a good mindset and give our fans something to shout about at home. The position we are in, we need to pick up points, especially at home.

“Once things kind of come your way, things snowball and have an effect on players.

“It is important we do not lose our belief and that is down to me leading them and saying we can come through it.

“It happens to plenty of teams in the Championship, it is happening to us at the minute, but we can get through it.”