Notes for the New Season - Part Two: Hull City, Rotherham and Huddersfield
Wednesday, 22nd Jul 2015 11:00 by HarryFromBath
In the second of a series of pre-season reports, HarryfromBath assesses the mood around the Championship clubs by delving into their forums. The three Yorkshire teams of Hull City, Rotherham United and Huddersfield Town are under the spotlight in today’s notes.
Hull City - Getting Rid of the Doom and Gloom
“I have never known such little enthusiasm for a new season”, “We have got to get the doom and gloom out of the place. We have got to build a team we all know can mount a challenge. We have got to enjoy it again”, “Hopefully we can all move on together, but I doubt it.”
Hull City supporters are looking at the coming season with some anxiety. No new players have arrived and eight have left since their relegation while the only other news has been the FA Council’s decision to refuse owner Assem Allam’s second application to rename the club ‘Hull Tigers’.
“All we have done on the playing side is losing three of our most popular and one of our most promising players. I don’t blame them for moving on”, “Something is seriously wrong at the club. I’m half expecting Steve Bruce to be sacked or for him to resign with a mass exodus and no incoming players.”
“The way players are bailing out is a worry. Bruce will hopefully have funds to get some players in”, “The starting XI can get the job done but the strength in depth we need is not there”, “The biggest concern is the number of strong characters the dressing room has lost too.”
“I hope we go shopping shortly”, “We are going to the Portugal training camp with a 20-man squad. I see gaps everywhere and we kick off in less than one month’s time”, “Our midfield is threadbare and our three strikers could leave before the season kicks off.”
Goalkeeper Steve Harper, defenders Maynor Figueroa, Joe Dudgeon and striker Yannick Sagbo have been released but are yet to find new clubs. Defender Paul McShane and midfielder Stephen Quinn have joined Reading and defender Liam Rosenior has moved on to Brighton.
No new players have arrived although Alex Bruce has signed a contract extension and City have rejected a series of Norwich bids for midfielder or full-back Robbie Brady, but the departure of winger Tom Ince to Derby for a reported £4.75 millon fee has brought concerns both on and off the pitch to the surface.
“I certainly would not have sold Tom and I did all I could to keep him.” Some Tigers have picked up on their manager’s frustrated comments after the winger’s departure as evidence of a wider unhappiness. “Bruce is not happy but the player obviously didn’t want to be here.”
“Is this the start of the end of the so-called wonderful relationship between Bruce and his boss? All this nonsense about balancing the books doesn’t wash with me”, “Ince would have helped get us back to the Premier League. Now he will help one of our rivals.”
“Ince wasn’t Premier League quality.” Others view the deal as pragmatic good business. “Ince’s leaving is a good deal given that he is out of contract next summer. How many times have we seen loan players impressing and then turning out to be rubbish?” “Cameron Stewart.”
“I really hope Bruce lifts the doom and gloom, but it is one hell of a thing to ask”, “The collapse at the end of last season suggested Bruce’s head wasn’t up for the fight. He believed Leicester to be dead and buried last season and their comeback stunned him.”
“Even if Bruce is sacked by October, he will still have been our most successful manager ever.” He has his supporters, but many Tigers are critical of his “appalling record in the transfer market”, “I couldn’t think of any players improving under Bruce. They arrive and usually deteriorate.”
His player management has been questioned. “Bruce chased Ince and Maguire and never gave them a run with both positions well covered”, “He cannot complain about Ince being sold. He created the situation”, “If Brady is sold from under him Bruce will be gone before the season kicks off.”
"I'm hoping that on Thursday we can all sit down and navigate a plan to get us back to where we all want to be." In an interview with the Hull Daily Mail, Bruce suggested that talks planned with the owners tomorrow agreeing what steps will be taken to rebuild the side will be critically important.
“If I don't think we have a chance of getting back up I would consider my position.” This comment made in the same piece has set fans on alert with some suspicious that Bruce is engineering an exit. “Fourteen first team players three weeks before the season starts is a joke and he knows it.”
“I can imagine new players will be lining up to come to us after reading that”, “What a piece of rubbish that is Brucie. You want to attract players to the club yet you tell them there is a black cloud hanging over the club. You couldn't make it up.”
“Rejected by the FA Council by 70% to 30%”, “It’s a victory for supporters and common sense”, “Great news and the margin was not even close. So, what will you do now Mr Allam? Carry on with this nonsense or admit defeat magnanimously?”
The attempts by the owner to change the club’s name have caused deep and lingering animosity. “Allam - you have lost again. Give it up - it’s not happening. Give us our proud name back and just do one like you promised”, “He’ll be back with another plan to destroy the club. Watch this space.”
“If we have learned anything, it’s that Mr Allam doesn’t do magnanimous. He just does his toys out of the pram thing”, “He was told it was rubbish but persisted with the charade. We’re looking forward to his next jolly jest.”
Many fans are concerned that their owners will try to recoup their investment with players sales and parachute payments, and move the club on to new owners. “We will see how serious the Allams are about promotion now”, “They saw a chance to make a profit on Ince.”
Rotherham United - Improvements That Just Get Better and Better
“There is a very determined and focused attitude at the club at the moment”, “We really mean business this season by the looks of things. I am full of optimism and cannot wait for the season to start. We are significantly stronger than last season with some exciting additions.”
“I am pleased to realise that the management are constantly improving and not repeating past mistakes.” A busy transfer window and especially the arrival of 10 either promising or experienced players have bolstered Millers’ confidence. “I’m very much looking forward to the new season now.”
“Have you got it into your heads yet? A credible first season in the Championship and an excellent post-season in which we have signed some real quality, all after two promotions in two years. It adds up to the undeniable truth that Evans is an excellent football manager. We are lucky to have him.”
Many Millers are quick to acknowledge that keeping Rotherham in the Championship last year surpassed the back-to-back promotions he achieved getting them there. “Evans is not everyone’s cup of tea but he gets results and while that happens I am well happy.”
“I must admit that when Steve Evans was appointed, the old man and myself did look at each other with a raised eyebrow, but he has done more for this club than anyone could ever have imagined and surpassed all expectations. I hope it continues”, “We love you Steve. You do what you want.”
“We have gone for a step up in quality as opposed to quantity.” With 11 departures and 10 arrivals, Rotherham have had a busy window. Midfielder Ben Pringle (now at Fulham) and defender Craig Morgan (now at Wigan) turned down offers but nine others were released or transfer listed.
Players moving away from the Championship include defenders Matt Sadler (to Shrewsbury), Kari Arnason (to Malmo), Danny Rowe (to Wycombe) and Richard Brindley (to Colchester). Midfielder Rob Milsom will link up again with ex-Blues keeper Scott Loach this coming season at Notts County.
The Millers defence has been greatly strengthened, with Joe Mattock, Lewis Buxton (both from Sheffield Wednesday), former Blues loanee Danny Collins, Greg Halford (both from Nottingham Forest) and 22-year-old Tom Thorpe (from Manchester United’s youth set-up) arriving permanently.
Midfield has been strengthened with the arrival of former Middlesbrough winger Emmanuel Ledesma and Leeds man Aidy White, and three young loan arrivals are keeper Kelle Roos and defender Farrend Rowson (both from Derby) along with midfielder Grant Ward (from Spurs).
Defence Reinforcements But No New Strikers
“Last season’s defence was our achilles heel in so many games. We conceded late goals, gave away sloppy free kicks and marked poorly at set-pieces. I’m really excited about the experience we have signed at the back”, “Farrend Rawson was the most eye-catching last season when on loan here.”
“How many centre-backs do we need?”, “It’s all part of the master-plan. We are going to be playing seven across the back”, “So many good signings and the team is so much stronger than last season, but I hope that Steve gets a striker in for the season start as we don’t want to be playing catch-up.”
“Doesn’t Halford cover all over the pitch? I’m still not sure where he fits in but I never had him pegged as a centre-half.” Many Millers see the former Colchester man as a utility option who “is a big strong unit and a good footballer who can play all over the pitch”.
“We have plenty of strikers but unfortunately they lack the ability to score goals. We need to get off to a strong start this season. A decent striker is needed or we will again be creating chance after chance but bemoaning our losses. A striker is needed and quick.”
“I don’t want to rely on Matt Derbyshire as the only person who can score 15-plus in a season.” Millers were pleased to see the club rebuff a bid from Wigan for the former Blackburn striker. “He missed some sitters, but his movement is exceptional. There is no replacement we could attract.”
“We have to keep Derbyshire. Towards the end of last season we started to play Championship football instead of hoofing it stupidly to Derbyshire. He came into his element and if we can continue with the same style next season, he will be the key to our survival.”
“Loach came here with rave reviews but it hasn’t worked out. Can he be as bad as what we have been witnessing? Is he just poor and has therefore lost all confidence?” Millers have had some interesting comments about for former Town keeper, who has joined Notts County this summer.
Some fans are more critical is their assessment of the 26-year-old. “One of the worst keepers we have had in the 40 years-plus I have been a Miller and we have had some shockers in that time”, “Evans said that League One clubs were in for him straight away and that’s about his level.”
Huddersfield Town - Making Up the Numbers
“We have finished 19th, 17th and 16th since promotion with an average of 55 points”, “Town are not going down, nor are they going to win the league. We will make steady progress as with the previous few seasons and maybe obtain a top half finish with a bit of luck.”
“I’m looking forward to next season. It’s highly unlikely we will go up but playing the clubs in this division excites me”, “Patient building and remaining in this division have put us in a stronger position and it allows for a season where we can surprise ourselves by punching above our weight.”
While many Terriers expect another mid-table campaign, some fans believe they are treading a fine line. “It’s okay seeing finishing above the drop-zone as progress but sooner or later we could have an injury crisis or a bad run and end up going down. A couple of long-term injuries could screw us.”
“A lot will depend on Powell’s tactics. We will finish nowhere with more of the negative football we saw earlier in the season”, “We at least need a season where fans remember a team that goes for it and gives anyone a game, and a team that the media actually talks about.”
“I hope with Powell at the helm we will get both stability and ability with our management. This will help us going forward as constant chopping and changing didn’t help our progression”, “Our late season form gave me hope that we could achieve a top-six position with a couple of good signings.”
Huddersfield have had a quiet transfer window, with midfielder Conor Coady’s transfer to Wolves the most notable departure. Strikers Jonathan Stead (to Notts County) and Martin Paterson (to Orlando City) have left the division and defender Anthony Gerrard has been released.
Midfielder Duane Holmes and striker Ishmael Miller have agreed one-year extensions. There have been four additions, veteran midfielder Dean Whitehead (from Middlesbrough), 19-year-old midfielder Kyle Dempsey (from Carlisle), striker Jordy Hiwula (from Manchester City) and 23-year-old left-back Jason Davidson (from West Brom).
“Davidson is an international left-back and much better than Reece James who was a weak link towards the end of the season.” The Australian is “a young player with potential and a good reputation. He just needs a run of games, something which he will get with us”.
“He is quiet and assured on the ball, a good passer and a solid defender. He is not overly attacking but will overlap when the formation allows it”, “He didn’t pull up any trees at West Brom and must be a gamble”, “I think of all positions that Powell should be able to pick us out a decent left-back.”
“The worry is the defence. Alex Smithies is as capable a keeper as you will find in the division but adding a decent right-back and centre-back will hopefully do the job”, “Look at how many goals we conceded last season. It was hardly progress”, “A centre-back who is strong in the air should be our priority.”
While Town fans are not panicking, their perceived vulnerability at the back is a regularly recurring theme when discussing signings. “We need to be much better in defence. We shipped far too many goals. I think we will be okay but will take mid-table mediocrity, between 12th and 15th.”
“If we had used our money wisely last year on a couple of proper defenders we would not have conceded anywhere near the 75 goals we did”, “Without reinforcements we will be in the bottom third again”, “If we don’t get that much-coveted centre-back to stop us leaking goals, we’ll struggle.”
“Selling Marcus Stewart will go down as one of the most monumentally idiotic transfers in football history”, “It still makes my blood boil thinking about that sale”, “Selling Stewart was a failure of the disastrous regime some would rather we had instead of the stupendous owners we have now.”
Some Terriers still harbour strong feelings over the striker’s decision to join Ipswich back in early 2000, but a number of them were quick to offer praise to our management for some of our more recent transfer activity.
“Ipswich sold Cresswell for big bucks, got big value for Mings and could have done for McGoldrick. They have spent nowt and are higher than us in the Championship with a high-value squad”, “They use it on wages, but I don’t think anyone could say that Ipswich have spent their way to the top.”
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Photo: Action Images
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