Following the departure of Mark Robins after just one game this season, Huddersfield Town subsequently appointed Chris Powell and are now unbeaten in six. As they prepare to play Nottingham Forest, Charlie Johnson tells us what to expect from the home side
Huddersfield sacked Simon Grayson last year, and Mark Robins after just one game this season — what went wrong?
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what went wrong in the case of either Robins or Grayson, but when it stopped going right it went downhill fast for both of them. One day they were being lauded for getting the best out of players, then they went on a bad run, and before you knew it they’d left the club.
Both had decent spells whilst in charge, with Grayson gaining a play-off final win, and Robins keeping us up the following year with a team that was in decline and looked certain to drop. However, neither seemed to have the force of will or charisma to push through a rough patch and inspire a team that was short on confidence. Grayson seemed generally disinterested, whereas if Robins did care he could’ve told his face.
They seemed very similar and, although their approaches to how football should be played were different, they were largely forgettable and never showed that they were working hard to turn around a difficult situation. It wasn’t ideal for Robins to walk away after one game, but ultimately he admitted that he didn’t have the stomach for the fight anymore and we were forced to make a change earlier than we would’ve liked.
But despite the managerial uncertainty at the club over the last few seasons the infrastructure at the club continues to improve. There has been an awful lot of work done to ensure the club has a strong academy, as well as having strong coaches throughout this set up, who have the club’s best interests at heart. So, when something goes wrong at the club, there are plenty of Huddersfield Town men ready to step up and get the club out of a mess. This has helped us a lot in recent years.
How has Chris Powell settled in, and what has he done differently?
He’s given the whole place a huge lift. And where previous managers failed to truly impose themselves on the job, he already seems to be in charge and getting respect from everyone at the club. It’s easy to see why he’s one of the most likes men in football, as he gives everyone time and represents the club with pride and professionalism.
He’s very intelligent and also inspires players and gets them playing with commitment. He has that ability to inspire players, through trust and praise as much as anything, that previous managers seemed to lack. The players seem hungry now, and those who get dropped come back with a point to prove and a desire to impress. Tactically he’s gone back to basics. The players work hard, they try to get the ball forward and they defend sensibly. It’s nothing spectacular, but thus far it’s getting the desired results.
What’s the fans’ general opinion of Powell?
I think most were a little underwhelmed at his appointment, and after a few matches the style was lacking, and results weren’t coming. However, we are now six unbeaten and the uncertain fans seem happy. He’s embraced the club, always mentions the fans in post-match interviews and has the type of character that previous managers seemed to lack.
Just like every set of fans in the league, when it’s good they love the manager and think he’s great, and when it’s bad they think he’s terrible. Powell is currently getting results, so he’s liked by the fans. His general demeanour, manner with people and charisma will keep fans on side if results go awry, anyway.
What are your expectations now for the season?
After a dreadful start I’ll just be happy to stay up, and push on next season. However, after the additions of Grant Holt and new captain Mark Hudson the squad looks as if it has the ability and strength to gain a mid-table position, and I would personally be delighted with that outcome.
Who are the players to watch out for?
Sean Scannell and Harry Bunn are currently playing on opposite wings and both are on fantastic form. Two very different players but they will keep your full-backs busy in differing ways. Scannell is tricky and quick, whereas Bunn is like a battering ram who’ll just run at opponents and force his way through. Both can be game changers, but neither would’ve been anywhere near many fans first XI at the start of the season. However, they’ve taken their chance with both hands and could make the difference on Saturday.
What do you think will happen on Saturday?
Forest are usually far too strong for us, however we’re on a good run of form and we’re playing the sort of football that gets results. I think it’ll be a score draw