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Season Preview Part 4 12/08/2012

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.
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The Olympics are all well and good I suppose, but what you really wanted to be doing this summer was reading about Huddersfield Town?  No?  Next four up Tuesday…

HUDDERSFIELD TOWN

INS: Oliver Norwood (Manchester United, £400,000), Keith Southern (Blackpool, £300,000), Adam Clayton (Leeds United, Undisclosed), Anthony Gerrard (Cardiff City, Undisclosed), Sean Scannell (Crystal Palace, Undisclosed), Paul Dixon (Dundee United, Free), Joel Lynch (Nottingham Forest, Free)

OUTS: Danny Cadamarteri (Carlisle United, Free), Aiden Chippendale (Accrington Stanley, Free), Nathan Clarke (Leyton Orient, Free), Antony Kay (Franchise FC, Free), Tommy Miller (Swindon Town, Free), Gary Naysmith (Aberdeen, Free), Jamie McCombe, Greg Pearson, Gary Roberts, Simon Thomas

OUR EX-TERRIERS: Joe Garner

THEIR EX-ORNS: None

RECENT ENCOUNTERS: Going back a bit… the opening day of GT’s last season and a fortunate win courtesy of a Coxy-into-the-wall free kick that went into the net too (followed by listening to a now legendary 606 call that still enters conversation in Row SS of the Rookery on occasions some 12 years on). And a quite grotesque home defeat just before Christmas the same year in which our tumble from contention was confirmed as terminal. Having led the division in early November, the defeat left us 18 points behind Fulham.

POSSIBLE STARTING ELEVEN:

Smithies
Dixon          Clarke            Lynch           Hunt
Southern       Clayton         Norwood
Scannell                      Rhodes                         Ward

VERDICT: Another new side  to assess, a side that we haven’t played for a while… and a side that have brought in at least half a team’s worth of replacements over the summer, so kinda difficult to make a call on.  Not to mention the Jordan Rhodes thing… Blackburn are, at the time of writing, only the most recent side to be linked with the prolific striker and if a deal goes through it’s safe to assume that some of the income will be spent on yet more replacements.  So… even harder to call. As it stands, the Terriers look heavily reliant on Rhodes up front, who has looked isolated in a 4-5-1 pre-season with fellow strikers Lee Novak, warhorse Alan Lee and youngster James Spencer not popularly expected to make the step up comfortably.  Simon Grayson will either need to replace Rhodes or find adequate cover for him; elsewhere, the new signings look decent but most were either regulars in struggling sides or bit-part players in better sides last season, so don’t expect more than a dropping of anchor in mid-table.  I’ll say bottom half, but they’ll only struggle if goalscorer Rhodes is injured or unsuccessfully replaced.

HULL CITY

INS: Nick Proschwitz (SC Paderborn 07, £2,600,000), Sone Aluko (Rangers, Free), Alex Bruce (Leeds United, Free), Abdoulaye Faye (West Ham United, Free), Eldin Jakupovic (Aris Salonika, Free), Ben Amos (Manchester United, Season Loan)

OUTS: Dele Adebola (Rochdale, Free), Will Atkinson (Bradford City, Free), Kamel Ghilas (Stade de Reims, Free), Kevin Kilbane (Coventry City, Free), James Harper (Hungerford Town, Free), Nick Barmby, Richard Garcia, Sonny Bradley (Aldershot Town, Season Loan), Mark Cullen (Bury, Six Month Loan)

OUR EX-TIGERS: Mark Yeates

THEIR EX-ORNS: None

RECENT ENCOUNTERS: Chris Iwelumo opening his Watford account in what nonetheless ended up as a 3-2 defeat at the KC Stadium in October, and a sleepy 1-1 draw at the Vic in April which concluded with Buaben at right back after Mariappa’s dismissal.

POSSIBLE STARTING ELEVEN:

Amos
Rosenior      Hobbs      Chester      Dudgeon
Koren      McKenna      Evans        Aluko
Proschwitz     Fryatt

VERDICT: Interesting how clubs redefine themselves after brief spells in the top flight.  Some manage to yo-yo (and even end up just “yo”ing, as GT once famously put it).  Some bomb out.  Many have floundered with the uncertainty of the stick-or-twist gamble against parachute payments.

City shed themselves of the unlikeable Phil Brown, wobbled a bit, underwent a change of ownership and are now solid top half fodder, probably a notch or two higher in the pecking order than they were before their nonetheless fully deserved promotion in 2008. Now on their third manager since relegation (Steve Bruce following the brief tenures of Nigel Pearson and Nick Barmby), the side has remained solid but unspectacular throughout.  Scoring goals was the problem last season – only Reading conceded fewer, but 47 goals scored in 46 games  never felt like promotion form.  Even with Player of the Year Koren signing the new contract that he’s dawdled over all summer I can’t see that changing… Proschwitz carries a big price tag but is relatively inexperienced, with one season in the Swiss top flight and one in the German second tier at a decent level.  Big ask.  Top half, but no cigar… eleventh.
IPSWICH TOWN

INS: Elliott Hewitt (Macclesfield Town, Undisclosed), Scott Loach (Watford, Undisclosed), Luke Chambers (Nottingham Forest, Free), Massimo Luongo (Tottenham Hotspur, Season Loan)

OUTS: Grant Leadbitter (Middlesbrough, Free), Richard Wright (Preston North End, Free), Lee Bowyer, Cody Cropper, Ibrahima Sonko, Mark Kennedy (retired)

OUR EX-BLUES: Alec Chamberlain

THEIR EX-ORNS: Michael Chopra, Nathan Ellington, Scott Loach

RECENT ENCOUNTERS: Lots of wins. Hurrah. In both of last seasons games Town were ahead both at the interval and with twenty minutes remaining, but ended up losing both – the second, memorably, to Troy Deeney’s Goal of the Season.

POSSIBLE STARTING ELEVEN:

Loach
Edwards     Chambers     Smith        Cresswell
Hyam      Carson      Luongo
Emmanuel-Thomas                                               Martin
Chopra

VERDICT: Conscious as I am that it feels very much as if I’ve been kinda predicting that most clubs will finish preeeetty much where they finished last season, here’s a (small) deviation.  In a season where there are, surprisingly and rather unusually, not very many absolutely desperate clubs in the division as it stands, Ipswich could be in a spot of bother.  It’s not that there’s not quality in the side… we were terrorised for 45 minutes by Jay Emmanuel-Thomas at the Vic earlier in the year, Lee Martin is finally becoming a player, Chambers and the on-loan Luongo are both good signings.  It’s… well…  that sense of decay that I mentioned during the Bristol City bit again.  The Roy Keane charade felt like a soap opera plotline that was well telegraphed and just needed to be seen through…  and Paul Jewell’s tenure doesn’t feel any different.  Plus – getting down to, you know, details rather than hunches – the squad is rather thin as it stands .  Thin in the “useful cover” sense of course, there are a number of persona non grata eating up big wages who wouldn’t qualify as thin, Nathan Ellington for one, Jimmy Bullard for another – whom Jewell was talking up last week in what felt like a rather desperate bid to attract a presumably equally desperate suitor.  In Keane, Jewell and Bullard it does feel as if Ipswich have been making some costly decisions. All a bit precarious all in all… not favourites for the drop, but it wouldn’t take a lot…

LEEDS UNITED

INS: Jason Pearce (Portsmouth, £500,000), Luke Varney (Portsmouth, £300,000), Rodolph Austin (SK Brann, Undisclosed), David Norris (Portsmouth, Undisclosed), Lee Peltier (Leicester City, Undisclosed), Jamie Ashdown (Portsmouth, Free), Andy Gray (Barnsley, Free), Paddy Kenny (Queens Park Rangers, Undisclosed), Adam Drury (Norwich City, Free), Paul Green (Leeds United, Free), El-Hadji Diouf (Doncaster Rovers, Non-contract)

OUTS: Robert Snodgrass (Norwich City, £3,000,000), Adam Clayton (Huddersfield Town, Undisclosed), Alex Bruce (Hull City, Free), Andy Lonergan (Bolton Wanderers, Free), Andy O’Brien (Vancouver Whitecaps, Free), Maik Taylor (Millwall, Free), Mikael Forssell, Ben Parker, Lloyd Sam, Mika Vayrynen, Danny Webber

OUR EX-WHITES: Carl Dickinson

THEIR EX-ORNS: Leigh Bromby, Neil Redfearn (Reserve Team Coach)

RECENT ENCOUNTERS: Leeds nicked an unmerited point from Vicarage Road in November in a game memorable for Mariappa’s Bobby Moore tackle on Becchio and Kightly’s subsequent goal, but were flattened by Chris Iwelumo’s stand-out performance of the season at Elland Road in April.

POSSIBLE STARTING ELEVEN:

Kenny
Peltier           Lees        Pearce          White
Green            Austin          Norris            Varney
McCormack
Becchio

VERDICT: The thing about Colin’s success at QPR was they weren’t a bunch of bruisers when he went there.  On the contrary, whilst there was talent in the squad they were something of a soft touch… so in strode Colin, did his thing, gave them a bit of nasty and completed the picture.  Leeds… weren’t quite in the same boat, were they?  So… in February, Colin arrives to replace Simon Grayson, grumbles a lot about the squad he’s inherited, manages to win three in fourteen and notches up Leeds’ biggest ever home defeat (against Forest of all people) and when he finally gets to the transfer window an already aggressive, competitive Leeds side evolves into a parody, an exaggerated super-Warnocked bunch of bruisers.  They’ve even got Paddy Kenny in goal, for goodness’ sake.

Key movers in the recent trend towards job lot transfers (and heaven knows we’re not in a position to criticise here), Leeds have reacted to shipping three quarters of their midfield to Norwich in the past twelve months (Snodgrass joining January departee Howson and last summer’s sale Bradley Johnson) by bringing in half of what was left of Portsmouth’s squad.  And a Jamaican called Rodolph Austin, signed from Norway, who Leeds’ official site describes as a “no-nonsense midfielder” who was nicknamed “The Beast” in Norway.  Naturally he was.

The well-publicised (apparent) collapse of a prolonged attempted takeover has provoked much (understandable) hand-wringing in West Yorkshire;  without the implied boost to his transfer budget, Warnock’s squad looks thin and light on both goals and creativity.  You wouldn’t want to take them on at British Bulldog, and on that basis it’s reasonable to assume that there’s no danger of Leeds actually struggling with relegation again, but not nearly enough here to challenge the top half.  Eighteenth.

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Comments»

1. m - 12/08/2012

Leeds 18th? lol

2. chareose - 12/08/2012

lol im quite a fair minded supporter and I loved Simon Grayson at Leeds but your prediction of 18th for Leeds united has no basis in logic whatsoever………To my mind Leeds are short a real quality winger / striker, thats it………….Norris and Pearce were by far Portsmouths best players (who would be midtable if not for point deduction and imminent liquidation) Austin can play, Mccormack will score 25 with that lot behind him and we have a FAR FAR better defence and goal keeper. If it wasnt for the fans off feild anger towards Bates id predict automatic promotion. For me its playoffs for Leeds unless we are taken over and warnock gets some money in january.

Matt Rowson - 12/08/2012

It’s a very strong division… lots of half-decent sides, nobody who stands out. I don’t see Leeds having enough, tbh. Eighteenth may have been harsh, but I can’t see a top half finish.

3. Smeg - 12/08/2012

Oh I so hope you’re right abot Dipswitch and Leeds.

4. Simon - 13/08/2012

Sorry, where did Alex Bruce come from again?

Matt Rowson - 13/08/2012

picky, picky

Simon - 13/08/2012

You don’t know the half of it 😉

5. mikepeter - 13/08/2012

chareose – I can’t say I think you’re all that fair-minded if you think Leeds would be getting promoted automatically were it not for the off-field imbroglio. I’d probably plump for a bit higher than Matt, but there’s no way I’d say Leeds are amongst my favourites for automatic promotion.

6. Mark - 13/08/2012

Totally disagree about Leeds finishing 18th.Firstly, Warnock,love him or hate him,knows how to get out of the championship.Now he has brought in his own players like Kenny,Norris and Varney to add to more than useful players in Becchio and McCormack I would be surprised if they did not finish top 6.


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