VIEW FROM THE NORTH STAND – HUDDERSFIELD
Such is the keenness amongst the Huddersfield supporting masses, that I’ve been in the unusual position of being contacted myself by a couple of supporters. One is Ben, from www.datm.co.uk who’s desperate to tell us how much he’s looking forward to his team’s defeat tomorrow. The other is Danny from www.htfc-world.com who also kindly volunteered a few minutes of his time to answer some of our usual questions on Chelsea, Huddersfield, the North South divide and who does the better fish & chips.
Cutting straight to the chase, what do you think of your performances so far this season?
Danny: Inconsistent results and uninspiring performances. Up until the signing of defender Rob Page before the 4th round tie at Oldham, we had one of the worst defensive records in League One. However, since then we’ve won every game without conceding a goal (at the time of typing – there’s still a midweek game at Carlisle before we play Chelsea).
Ben: Up to January or performances have been very very inconstant; win one, lose one etc. Our biggest problem was that we would always concede goals.
What areas of your squad need strengthening?
Danny: According to the manager he’s chasing a striker. According to many fans we need to strengthen the midfield.
Ben: Truthfully we could do with a quick forward who can remain fit and we could do with a decent proper left winger.
Who’s been your form player so far? Who do we need to look out for?
Danny: As mentioned, Page has made a big difference to the defence with his leadership but I suppose Luke Beckett would have to be the one to look out for as he’s scored in every round so far. Don’t give him an open goal from 2 yards as he rarely misses.
Ben: Overall throughout the season our best performer has been Andy Holdsworth in central midfield. He has the most goal assists for any player in league one. He will run all day and tackle everything. Other players to look out for are Phil Jevons upfront linking play and Robert Page at the back. Page has only played 5 games for us but for the first 4 we’ve not conceded a goal; his performances have been just immense!
How’s Frank doing at the Galpharm – a lot of us still have a great affection for the man?
Ben: Frank is doing well at the Galpharm, usually very dependable. He plays at right back for us. He seems to have taken to wearing flat caps though. I can only put this down to a Yorkshire influence! He’ll be talking about buying a whippet next.
What do you think of Chelsea, as if we needed to ask? Are you impressed by what the manager’s doing, or do you think Abramovich has a right to expect us to walk the League?
Ben: Avram Grant seems a decent fellow but I can’t see you winning much with him. Sorry but with Mourinho I believed that Chelsea would win the big games. Grant just seems to be another run of the mill Manager.
Danny: I don’t think anybody has a right to expect to walk the League. Obviously, the money makes a big difference but it can only get you so far before you need some talent to build a winning team and Mourinho clearly had that talent. I probably know as much about Avram Grant as you guys know about Andy Ritchie but I can’t say from having watched Chelsea on TV recently that they’re playing any more attractive football than they were under Mourinho – that was the intention, wasn’t it?
Ben: Personally I have a lot of time for Chelsea. You get some unfair stick over Abramovich’s billions. Lets face we’re all jealous and would much rather have a bonkers Russian than a debt loaded yank to come to our club any day!
Danny: I loved watching the Chelsea team of the late 90s with Gullit, Vialli and Zola. It was far easier to admire you when you had Zola rather than Drogba!
Ben: With Regards you manager, well I’m still shocked you got rid of Mourinho. I think most Town fans had great respect for Mourinho when at the end of the 2006 FA cup game, he came out to shake the hand of every single Huddersfield town player and then turned to applaud the Huddersfield fans. That meant a lot to us!
Which of our current squad do you most admire?
Danny: Jimmy Smith. He must get some stick in your squad for having a proper 1950s footballer name. He’s destined for the Nationwide League with a name like that, I can’t believe you’ve given him a squad number even if it is 46.
Ben: Michael Essien is the most complete football player I’ve seen since Roy Keane in his heyday. While Joe Cole has all the skill in the world, Carvalho is an immense defender and Drogba is a quality forward; it is Essien who allows these players to show their skill. He might not be pretty, but he tackles, he passes, he runs and he always holds the correct position. He also seems to be a nice lad too. Mickel seems to becoming more like him every time I see your team.
We’ve built a bit of a fortress at the Bridge. Think we’ll actually get a game out of you?
Danny: It depends whether you’ve got an eye on the other games on the horizon. Regardless of the team you put out, you should beat us. However, I’m presuming it won’t be your full strength team so I’m hoping we can make a game of it.
Ben: Absolutely! Straight up if the Huddersfield players play to the top of their ability then they are a match for all your Chelsea stars. Huddersfield have some really good players and our inconsistent form means our league position does not reflect the potenital talent we have in the side.
How will you deal with Chelsea? Do you stuff the midfield, or will we see a more adventurous line-up?
Danny: We had one up front against Birmingham in the third round and relied on a player operating between midfield and attack to support the lone striker. I think we may well go down this route again with Beckett the lone striker and Phil Jevons sitting slightly deeper.
Ben: Huddersfield will line up 4-4-1-1 if all the players are fit. If Johnny Worthington is fit for Saturday then the central midfield partnership of Worthington and Holdsworth will be like dogs of war and will shut down the likes of Ballack. I assure you your midfield will not get anytime on the ball!
Where will you finish this season?
Danny: Mid-table mediocrity beckons.
Ben: Where we finish in the league depends entirely on or league performances after the Chelsea match. If we win the next couple of games after the cup game then Huddersfield will be well in the hunt for a playoff place. If we suffer indifferent form then we will finish the season in the middle of league one! Let’s hope for the playoffs and our own visit to Wembley!
Would you swap victory in this game for a play-off place at the end of the season?
Danny: Yes, without a second thought. The play-offs are far more important to the regular fans at Town.
Ben: Yes without a doubt! Huddersfield need and deserve to be in the Championship, then lots of new teams can visit our wonderful Galpharm stadium!
What about Chelsea?
Danny: Looks like you’ve got 3rd place sewn up.
Ben: Chelsea won’t with the League this season but you have a chance in the cup competitions
Give us a score prediction.
Danny: 3-0 to Chelsea.
Ben: Two nil to Huddersfield with Luke Beckett scoring in the 85th minute. Well that’s what I dream of! In all honesty Chelsea will probably win but do not be surprised if you find yourself coming back to the Galpharm for a replay.
Thanks very much to both Danny and Ben. Enjoy the big day out, if not the “90 minutes of sheer hell” (© John Barnes, 1985) on the pitch.