No celebrations for Powell as Huddersfield suffer repeat show

TODAY marks the first anniversary of Chris Powell’s appointment as Huddersfield Town manager – just don’t expect celebratory cake to be on the menu for him.

Huddersfield Town manager Chris Powell. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.
Huddersfield Town manager Chris Powell. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

Food for thought, more than likely, with the Londoner donning the equivalent of battle fatigues once again with Town doing it tough just as they did at the start of 2014-15 – competing against well-muscled Championship might.

A year ago, Powell took charge of a club who had accrued just four points from their opening five games of a campaign which started off in bruising fashion.

Town sat 21st in the embryonic Championship table ahead of the first international break of last season.

Exactly a year on, they are in an almost identical position after the same amount of matches; one place below in 22nd spot with three points to their name.

Then, Huddersfield were reeling after a grievous 4-0 opening-day home loss to Bournemouth, which saw Mark Robins leave in its aftermath and set the tone for a season which could best be described as demanding.

Now, the damage has been inflicted by a trio of significant departures in personnel, with Conor Coady, Alex Smithies and most painfully of all, Jacob Butterfield, leaving for pastures new and Powell forced to cope with the aftermath – and endeavour to get things back on an even keel.

Many would venture that the task of Powell this time around is much more problematic than last autumn.

In the summer window of 2014, Town, like the one that has just passed, were faced with handling the exits of two key players for seven-figure deals in the shape of Adam Clayton and Ollie Norwood.

But the arrivals, somewhat ironically, of Butterfield and Coady as replacements, helped significantly mitigate for their loss when they joined Town for £500,000 and £375,000 respectively in August 2014.

Butterfield’s replacement this time is a young Welshman whom many footballing people in the know are tipping for big things in talented midfielder Emyr Huws.

That the 21-year-old, who drew glowing references during his time at Manchester City from the likes of Patrick Vieira and Michael Owen, has prodigious talent is self-evident with that much shown during an intoxicating loan spell at Birmingham City in the second half of 2013-14 
under former Town chief Lee Clark.

But equally, he has not played competitively in league football since the end of January due to an ankle injury and for him to immediately step into the shoes of Butterfield would be a big ask.

Complimenting the addition of Huws are the arrivals of fellow loanees Mustapha Carayol and Jamie Paterson.

Nottingham Forest winger Paterson was also monitored by Leeds United and if the 23-year-old can replicate his previous form at the John Smith’s Stadium, which has seen him net three times in three appearances for Forest and former club Walsall, then everyone will be a winner.

Paterson, linked with Town before, said: “My first career goal was at the stadium, so it’s always been a special place for me.

“Hopefully I can score some more goals and help us climb the table quickly.

“This is a fresh start for me and I can’t wait to get going,”

While Town’s midfield options have at least been augmented, it is a different story up front.

The situation is complicated somewhat by the situation regarding James Vaughan, who took to social media to vent his frustrations this week amid the fall-out following chairman Dean Hoyle’s announcement that he would not be offered a new deal due to the amount of time he has spent on the sidelines through injury in the past few seasons.

Vaughan had been expected to move to Wigan Athletic ahead of the transfer deadline, but could not agree terms and remains at Huddersfield, but his future is almost certainly elsewhere.

With that no doubt in mind, Town are taking a look at former Newcastle United striker Shola Ameobi, who is training with the club and who appeared in a behind-closed-doors match this week.

Ameobi, 33, is a free agent after leaving Crystal Palace and could be a timely option, with Town also minded to have an eye on the opening of the emergency loan window next Wednesday as well.

Town used it to their advantage to land Grant Holt last autumn, with his talismanic qualities up front proving a catalyst in the club’s fortunes and pulling away from the relegation zone.

Holding out for a hero in the Holt mould – whether that be Ameobi or whoever – could well represent another trump card for Town this time around.

They could definitely do with something.