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Huddersfield Town 2 Watford 0 (19/12/2020) 20/12/2020

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.
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1-

Sheriff of Nottingham : Just a minute. Robin Hood steals money from my pocket, forcing me to hurt the public, and they love him for it? That’s it then. Cancel the kitchen scraps for lepers and orphans, no more merciful beheadings, and call off Christmas.

No mention of Huddersfield, but then they were after a PG certificate.

This should, of course, have been no surprise.  Whilst we’ve beaten the Terriers plenty of times over the years, they’ve also provided the opposition… indeed, been incidental bystanders benefitting from some of our most miserable performances.  There was this one, that was pretty grim.  This one, the nadir of GT’s final season.  And this one, of which today was a chilling echo in many ways.  We should, at the very least, exercise caution as and when this fixture trundles around.

Meanwhile.  I went for a walk this morning.  The walking is the highlight of the week, the more so with the pub in the next village serving bacon rolls and coffee.  I’d done the weekly shop, unpacked, emptied the bins, then stepped out with my earpods in just as the first drops started to fall. Bloody minded and determined to get that walk I marched off anyway.  By the time I ordered my bacon roll I was soaked through, squelching shoes, damp socks.

This was never going to be a good day.

2- It’s startling how quickly things change.  We’re only three months into the season after all, and for much of that time Ivić has been rightly afforded leeway on the back of the vagaries of dealing with a bloated, relegated squad with all sorts of folk wanting in and out to the backdrop of the unprecedented circumstances that everyone is dealing with.

But it’s like that walk this morning.  One minute the sky was blue, the next it was pissing down.  And make no mistake, this is pissing down.  The baffling teamsheet made that perfectly clear before we were within sight of kick-off, and in any number of ways.  This is beyond a(nother) surprising, conservative team selection.  Four days after the releasing of the shackles (abetted by a red card) produced a dramatically improved second half performance against Brentford we’re all about containment again.   Nominally there are two forwards, but Ismaïla Sarr has never looked happy centrally and moving him from the flank just means there’s one less attacking option wide.  Troy Deeney is conspicuous by his absence just as his growing fitness was permitting him to remind us what a force of nature he was capable of being.  Ivić later asserts a combination of match overload and disciplinary reasons for his lack of employment and in the absence of full disclosure we have to reserve judgement, but quite what nature of offence permits selection on the bench but not the starting eleven whilst serial offender Andre Gray starts is difficult to fathom.  Indeed, Andre Gray is difficult to fathom in his own right, Stipe Perica’s likeably charismatic cameos also overlooked.  Meanwhile the presumption that Francisco Sierralta and Will Hughes were the latest two positive test subjects was challenged by Sierralta’s appearance on the bench whilst the badly needed Hughes is still absent.

It’s the sort of sulky, obstinate team selection that precedes a managerial departure.  We were puffing our cheeks before the game kicked off.

3- And as you’ll have noticed, things didn’t get any better once the game started.

The two goals were ridiculous of course.  The first came on nine minutes by which time right-back Pipa had already wandered through our defence, stopping a coffee and a selfie on the way.  Ben Foster’s error minutes later was arguably the more tolerable of the two;  Foster, after all, has a stock of brownie points well within their use-by date and will have been mindful that he didn’t have Troy to slug the ball at.  Nonetheless, as was pointed out at the time, Ben has gotten away with similar silliness already this season.  Today we get away with nothing, and Fraizer Campbell tucks the ball away.

The Capoue effort twenty minutes later was unforgivable.  Under no pressure, the Frenchman gave the lazy swipe of a limb that has betrayed all his most indolent performances over the last five years at a ball that you or I could have headed clear – no, really – and watched it fly past the helpless Foster.  As a concise summary of the underlying issues that the next guy (news just confirmed as I type) will have to cope with it was perfect.  Arrogant, lazy, negligent.

4- The filler was just as miserable.  Huddersfield did precisely what they needed to to earn the three points, which wasn’t an awful lot.  Indeed, in introducing the undisciplined Alex Pritchard they contributed more to our cause than half of our own team.  Our own attacking efforts were so desperately frustrating;  our hosts gave every impression of a side that were get-attable, that would crumble at the slightest provocation.  Instead we slugged at shots from ridiculous distances despite the encouragement offered by occasional forgetful attacks that saw us play through with surprising ease only to fall foul either of Andre Gray’s astonishing club-feet or, on one occasion, of a stunning one-handed save from Schofield.

It was miserable.  It was a team dying on it’s arse, constricted by team selection but wallowing in self pity.  The exceptions stood out in terms of attitude if not end product – Garner ineffectively energetic, Wilmot assertive and positive without quite achieving anything.  But before now we’ve talked about the side being less than the sum of its parts.  This was beyond that.  There was no collective.  We could have played until, well, Christmas and not gotten anywhere.  Fittingly, since, well, you know.

5- And then he was gone.

The rain stopped as I waited for my coffee and bacon roll.  As I walked back across the fields the sun was shining, and I was dry by the time I got home.  Except, of course, for my feet.

And things will get better.  At some point.  But there’s shit to be sorted out first.  Whatever mistakes Ivić made, however enjoyable it will be to see us playing with a bit of freedom and – whisper it – joy, even failing that way, he’s far from being the only problem.  Many of the players that got us relegated haven’t been doing enough to address the situation.  This isn’t irretrievable.

But it does need to be retrieved.

Have a good, well, you know.  Thing.  As much as this is possible.

Things will get better.

Yooorns.

Foster 2, Ngakia 3, Kabasele 3,  Troost-Ekong 2, *Wilmot 3*, Sema 2, Garner 3, Capoue 1, Cleverley 2, Sarr 2, Gray 1
Subs:  Sierralta (for Troost-Ekong, 31) 3, Perica (for Capoue, 67) 2, Navarro (for Ngakia, 77) NA, Masina (for Wilmot, 77) NA, Phillips, Crichlow, Chalobah, Deeney, Bachmann

Comments»

1. gloryhornetboy - 20/12/2020

A pretty fair summing up, i wonder who will next to try and sort this out

2. Harefield Hornet - 20/12/2020

My day like yours incorporated an earlier drenching, mine coming in Regents Park as my daughters team lost 0-3 to Highbury Wolves, a team from Islington with more attitude than you can poke a stick at. I then rushed home to watch the unfolding horror show which became the Counts last game in charge. Ivic’s departure seemed on the
Cards and I’m not surprised it happened this quickly – and can’t say I’m too sad to see the back of him – …….. Next!!

3. Ben - 20/12/2020

Thanks Matt. Focusing in on one of the many issues, I really couldn’t understand Gray’s selection over Perica. On multiple grounds, including that Perica is (imo) at least as mobile as Gray, whilst offering so much more. Baffling.

Anyway, I always look forward to reading your match reports – you’re able to articulate what so many of us are thinking in a brilliant way. Cheers.

Matt Rowson - 20/12/2020

Thanks Ben

4. David - 20/12/2020

I have been very supportive of Ivic but this performance, even ignoring the two mistakes was as bad as it gets. I desperately wanted a manager to stick around to take away the seemingly corrosive power of the players and yet we can’t stick with the wrong manager either.

There is an alternative theory, the players are simply not good enough for a top 6 championship finish.

5. Harefield Hornet - 20/12/2020

If as presumed likely they bring in someone else from overseas it would seem unlikely they can negotiate the quarantine procedures before Boxing Day. With Mullins and Stack now history, who is left to take charge?

6. JP - 20/12/2020

This has been like watching a car crash in slow motion. The signs have been there for a few days now and it was only going to take a bad performance yesterday to seal Ivic’s fate. Everyone can have their own view but the Pozzo model is clear. They supply the players and the coaches job is to win with what he’s been given. Effectively calling one if them an overweight to**er, that he can’t wait to get rid of, in public is not going to end well. The issue of Deeney was of a similar nature as he has 10+ years of credit in the bank. As I read it, he was on the bench due to player rotation but it was disciplinary issues that caused him not to come on. If so then he was expressing his opinion of how the team was performing under Ivic. Speculation I know, but Deeney is hardly one to bite his tongue. So we move on. Individually you can make a good case for every dismissal the Pozzo’s have made, but so many in 8 years does wear you down. Great report as ever.

7. stuart sharkey - 20/12/2020

An excellent summing up Matt. Like many supporters I was really excited at the beginning of the season. The squard looked strong and media reports on Ivic were really positive; maybe we could win the Championship at last! The excitement I felt went up a few notches as we beat Spurs 2-1 but since then, with only a very exceptions it has been poor. Injuries and Covid related absences have not helped but strong leadership from the’senior’players has been missing. Capoue’s reaction after his og, was so laid back as to be unbelievable. The new Head Coach will certainly has a difficult job on his hands.Lets hope that Gino and co carry out a decent due diligence this time, heaven knows they’ve had enough practice!

8. Stuart Campbell - 20/12/2020

I felt like coming on for a rant but, thanks Matt, your eloquent summary took the wind out of my sails by expressing what I guess most of us felt before, during and after the game. Today I feel slightly less ghastly, tomorrow will be a touch better too, and by the time the next game comes,I will doubtless commit to watching, albeit through my fingers.

The difference this time is that the hierarchy really have got to get it right. It’s not just a new coach we need but a rethink of how the coach fits into the structure – and a very honest reappraisal of the playing staff. Attitudes need to change. And communication needs to improve.

Fingers crossed.

9. Old Git - 20/12/2020

Even if this side does win promotion under the next ‘Head Coach’, the club as it is at the moment is so far away from being a Premier League outfit that last May’s relegation was only the half of it. And to think we were pleased when we learnt Capoue was staying. As for Andre Gray, enough said about him. Compared to what I feel, Matt’s description of him as ‘club footed’ is a compliment.
I see the Wobby posters are lobbying for Eddie Howe. So they want us to become a sly, sneaky, diving, referee conning team of cheats. No thank you.
Malky, anyone? At least we’d have a ready made song.

10. Harefield Hornet - 20/12/2020

Looks like the Xisco Kid rides into town on Monday!

11. Ray Knight - 21/12/2020

Spot on Matt in your analysis. We huffed and puffed in that second half but we lack quality up front other than Sarr. We are deluded if we think Ivic is the issue, just as Pearson wasn’t. The chemistry, balance and attitude of some in this squad is just not right. It’s not the youngsters like Wilmot and Garner. Sure Capoue will be off to Valencia in January but some others will be very hard to shift. I was never convinced we had the best squad anyway and we will do very well to make the playoffs. Happy Xmas to you all!


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