AMID the fall-out of Huddersfield Town’s tenth league defeat in a grievous 11-match winless Premier League sequence, there was at least one happy spot of nostalgia on Tuesday evening.
It arrived in the sight of Aaron Mooy, a player at the epicentre of many of the club’s joyous moments of the David Wagner era, making his first-team return from the bench and provide some precious moments of innate quality, vision and verve that the hosts have been so painfully lacking in their fallow winter run.
An instantaneous first-time pass to dissect Everton’s defence and send Terence Kongolo clear on the left flank soon after coming on in the 55th minute was an example of just what the Terriers have been missing in his absence.
A sweetly-struck free-kick from Mooy, which made England keeper Jordan Pickford produce his first substantive save of the night later on in the second half, was a further reminder.
Testament to the impact of Mooy, out with a knee injury since December 8, was that the silky Australian was named as the hosts’ man-of-the-match in the 1-0 home loss to Everton, despite being only entering the fray 10 minutes into the second half.
New Town head coach Jan Siewert, for sure, is certainly counting his blessings that Mooy is back on deck.
Siewert, afforded a warm ovation when he was introduced to the crowd ahead of the game, said: “He gave us the impetus when he came on the pitch.
“We knew that he could not start because after such an injury, it is not easy to come back like he did.
“You can see his quality with the free-kick and he is an important player in our squad and I am very thankful that he is back again.
“It definitely gives the lads confidence too. Definitely.
“I was pleased with the performance. I have had just seven days to get the boys used to my ideas. I am not just sure what would have happened if we had not conceded the goal so early. The way we came back made me really proud.”
Huddersfield’s brave new world under Siewert may have started with a loss, but there were discernible signs of more of a forward-orientated approach at times – even if it could not yield a goal with the hosts having netted just five times at home in the league so far in 2018-19.
Both Elias Kachunga and Adama Diahkaby supported striker Steve Mounie, with Jason Puncheon playing just behind the Frenchman, and while the quality count was not particularly high, the intent was at least there.
It also pointed towards evidence of where Siewert’s training ground work had centred on ahead of the game.
On the impact of Siewert, goalkeeper Jonas Lossl observed: “It has been interesting. It has been good.
“He has come in with some spirit and some energy, so yes it is a positive with different manager and different ideas.
“I think he has done well and has been clear about what he wants, so it has been good.”
Yet in the final analysis, Tuesday represented a night when the hosts desperately needed to register a victory to keep their realistic hopes of survival intact, with supporters mindful of forthcoming games against Chelsea and Arsenal.
Saturday’s appointment at Stamford Bridge will at least inspire memories of Town’s joyous safety-clinching point in a heroic, never-to-be-forgotten evening in West London in the spring – and for Lossl, it provides something to at least cling onto as the hosts spy another famous result.
Lossl said: “We need to keep believing. We know it is a difficult programme with Everton here and the next two coming up, but we will believe.
“We went to Chelsea last season and that is where we saved our season, so we have some good memories from there. We know what is possible at Stamford Bridge, so we will believe.”
Town may not be giving up the ghost regarding their top-flight tenure just yet, but provisions are understandably being made for next term.
The signing of young Charlton Athletic striker Karlan Grant on a three-a-half-year deal is illustrative of that and while the Terriers hope that the forward will have an impact in the short as well as the long-term, the addition is chiefly an investment for the future.
On the capture of Grant, who has struck 14 goals in 29 games for the Addicks in their pitch for promotion from League One, Siewert said: “As I do, this club believes in talented young players and Karlan certainly fits that description.
“He is a player I am delighted to have the chance to work with.
“Our recruitment team has put a lot of work into bringing Karlan here. Importantly, he is a natural goal-scorer; he has that knack of knowing which movement to make and finishing chances.”
Town striker Rekeil Pyke has joined League One side Rochdale for the rest of the season on loan – after being recalled from his existing loan spell at Wrexham.