Huddersfield Town run out of steam as search for new manager gathers pace
Rarely, if ever, do those already in the job say the squad is not fit enough.
Interim Huddersfield Town head coach Mark Hudson, however, pulled no punches after Saturday’s 2-0 defeat left them joint bottom of the table.
Town simply blew up after 70 minutes of largely dominant football and the question has to be asked what were they doing in pre-season under the recently sacked Jan Siewert?
New Town chairman Phil Hodgkinson, who bore the brunt of vitriol from one particularly upset supporter, begins the interviewing process for the new head coach today and should have someone installed by the international break at the end of the month.
One name in the frame is former Hull City manager Nigel Adkins, who worked alongside Town’s new head of football operations David Webb at Southampton but there have been plenty of applicants from home and abroad.
The first task for whoever comes in will be to ensure Town do not repeat what happened when they last lost their top-flight status.
They went down again in 1973 and years in the football wilderness followed.
The disturbing thing is that in the 1972-73 season Town had won two and drawn one of their opening five games. This time, they have claimed a solitary point.
On Saturday, they received tremendous support from the terraces and a crowd approaching 22,000 shows that the fans were not just in it for the two-season visit to the Premier League.
Even they could not keep up the chanting after Ovie Ejaria, who, ironically, had gone down with cramp just a few minuites earlier, cut inside Christopher Schindler to fire in the 71st-minute opener.
Michael Morrison then headed home at the far post to ensure Reading took some measure of revenge for their Championship play-off final defeat to Town in the first meeting between the sides since then.
But it was at the back where Morrison, Liam Moore and early substitute Tom McIntyre ruled supreme.
Hudson had refreshingly employed two genuine wingers in Rajiv van la Parra and Adama Diakhaby and while they often posed a threat, Town did not win one of the many crosses they sent over.
There was little other plan, lone striker Karlan Grant being starved of possession apart from one burst down the middle which saw Rafael Cabral produce a fine save.
The hosts did not get a shot on target in the first half when they enjoyed 72 per cent of the possesion and the only save was made by Town’s Liverpool loanee Kamil Grabara.
He produced another soon after the break after Andy Yiadom had thudded a shot against the bar but, overall, Town continued to be in the ascendancy without looking like scoring.
Reading manager Jose Gomes was delighted to make it seven points in a week but was candid enough to admit his side need to improve on a 34 per cent possession rate when they face the better sides.
Frustrated Hudson, among the candidates for the job, has already upped Town’s training intensity but was understandably unhappy.
“It’s about what we do. We are ready to give that specific knowledge to the players and that intensity in training,” said the former no-nonsense centre-back.
“That process has already started. It has to, 100 per cent. It needs to continue. I saw the players physically run out of steam today, 100 per cent. It will be fixed.
“We were not hard done by. We got done because we blew up after 70 minutes. We also need to be better in the opponents’ box. We have got to make what we did for 65 minutes last for 95, 96, 97 minutes.
“It’s frustrating for sure but it is not something to hide from. Of course the fans are worried. We are not shirking the work-rate but it has to be specific. We need to train with intensity and with a specific idea of how we are going to do it.”
One bright spot for Hudson was the performance of league debutant Jaden Brown, the England Under-19 signing from Tottenham, at left-back.
“Jaden is going to be a good asset for this football club going forward. He is ready to go and looked like he should be out there. We have young players who are ready to go and make a mark in this squad,” added Hudson, perhaps as a veiled warning.
Poland Under-21 goalkeeper Grabara, who was on loan at Aarhus last season, also emerged with credit but he said: “I always believe in myself but the results are not easy to take on.
“I was in an environment (at Anfield) where they don’t lose too many matches in a season but I was also on loan before for half a season and we lost seven straight games so, while it is not something to be proud of, I know what it is like. I came here to help the boys and they are here to help me so we need to stick together. We are confused as to why we are in this position.”
Huddersfield Town: Grabara, Hadergjonaj, Schindler, Kongolo, Brown; Chalobah, Hogg; Diakhaby (Koroma 79), Pritchard (Campbell 75), Van la Parra (Mbenza 69); Grant. Unused substitutes: Schofield, Elphick, Bacuna, O’Brien.
Reading: Cabral, Miazaga (McIntyre 5), Morrison, Moore; Yiadom, Pele, Swift, Ejaria (Rinomhota 76), Richards; Joao, Boye (Puscas 69). Unused substitutes: Virginia, Loader, Adam, Barrett.
Referee: A Harrington (Cleveland).