Huddersfield Town’s month of January has been fascinating both on and off the pitch but, of course, there remain more questions than answers. Huddersfield Hub sports editor STEVEN DOWNES offers his thoughts in his monthly Town review.
Back in December Huddersfield Town Supporters’ Association published the All Together Town minutes in which Dean Hoyle, the now CEO and 25% owner, said to the club board, staff and players to give him a problem.
Well the problem in the bigger picture is easy. Do we want to achieve a play-off place this season? You’d hope the answer would be yes. However, the harder question is: How do we go about achieving this goal without going bust?
Fast forward to January 15 and we got an insight into the desperate financial situation the club was in and how Dean Hoyle had to seemingly come to the rescue. Again.
As nine companies of 75% club owner Phil Hodgkinson went into administration, Town fans could not have envisaged the desperate state the club was in.
In his programme notes against Swansea City, Hoyle said: “It was fairly common knowledge that I had resumed responsibility for the club towards the end of October.
“Having been reassured that all was well financially earlier that month, I had three days’ notice to provide £2m to pay October’s wages for our players and staff to bring creditor payments up to date.
“I have subsequently provided millions more to meet the cash requirements of the club. The alternative would have been administration.
“I’ve read some suggestions that I only stepped in to secure my financial position, but this is not true.
“In October, I immediately met with the players and staff at the club to explain the situation and reassured everyone – as I do to you now – that I will provide stability going forward.
“There are no other material updates on this front for now, but I will provide you with any as they occur and arise.”
That update was pleasing due to the fact supporters had heard radio silence in December and January from any party involved. Despite many Town fans’ opinions now of Hoyle, of which there are many, I believe and appreciate what he did in saving the club from disaster.
To what extent Hodgkinson is still involved we don’t know and what will happen to his shares is again unknown. Supposedly former Ipswich owner Marcus Evans is close to doing a deal with Hoyle but again that is unconfirmed and a story for another time.
January at least provided some off-field communication but still left plenty of questions hanging in the air. As long as we are in the play-offs Hoyle’s problem remains the same.
On the January transfer front Town have brought in three first team players. Firstly back up goalkeeper Jamal Blackman has arrived on a deal until the end of the season. Also coming into the John Smith’s Stadium is Tino Anjorin, a highly-rated England under-20 international on loan from Chelsea. These seem like really good signings.
Attacking midfielder Anjorin could be really exciting but we might have to wait a while until he completes his recovery from a broken metatarsal.
The third player to arrive made Dean Hoyle’s and Town’s intentions quite clear for the rest of the campaign. The arrival of Carel Eiting signals a play-off push to me.
Eiting joined Town on loan from Ajax last season playing 23 times for the club. In the summer of 2021 he moved to Genk and had played 19 times for them. However he is now back in West Yorkshire on a permanent deal until the end of the season.
Do these signings answer Hoyle’s problem? Time will tell.
Going out on loan are plenty of Town B team players to get experience in the Football League which is brilliant to see.
Let’s move to on the pitch and Town started the month with a good 0-0 draw away at promotion rivals Blackburn.
The Terriers then went to Turf Moor in the FA Cup and beat Premier League side Burnley 2-1. A great win but that is tempered by the fact the Clarets fielded a starting 11 which was as old as Father Time himself – or a combined 343 years old, to be precise. The clock may be ticking down on Burnley’s stay in the top flight.
Whatever Burnley’s woes, the victory sent Town into the Swansea game on a high and Danel Sinani put them in front. However the Welsh side struck back through Downes (no relation!) and Town had to be content with a point.
Huddersfield then headed off to Reading to once again meet the not so cheerful Royals. It was a humdinger of a first half where the score at the interval was 3-3. The second half was less chaotic and Town striker Danny Ward duly scored the winner and completed his hat-trick. Ward was the last Town player to score three goals in a game, going back to 2014 against Watford.
Town’s final game of the month came against Stoke. The game was live on Sky and TV pundit Neil Harris, Ward’s former boss at Cardiff, likened Ward to Leeds United striker Patrick Bamford. High praise indeed.
Ward wasn’t able to continue his Reading magic and the Stoke game was a carbon copy of Swansea. Town went ahead and looked good value but failed to deliver in the second half, conceded an equaliser and were grateful to hang on for another point.
Ward was my player of the month. His tenacity and Terrier spirit has been fantastic to see and I’m glad he’s proving the doubters wrong. Keep it up, Wardy lad!
Next up for Town is a tricky test against Wayne Rooney’s Derby County on Wednesday night. A team fighting for their very existence. Roll on, February!