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Old School, Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Stan

Played three, won none, drawn two, lost one. If that was the start of a five match end-of-season run-in, it would certainly be cause for concern. As it is, the new manager of Huddersfield Town is three games into his first league campaign.

Having sat through the match on Saturday wearing this magnificent t-shirt, you can probably guess how I felt when, five minutes before half-time, following a Huddersfield corner, the franchise attackers raced forward like a pack of hyenas to cruelly expose the lack of pace in our defence and score an easy second. I haven’t ever seen a five-on-one attack before and it’s safe to say I don’t want to see one ever again (unless, of course, G. Roberts, A. Booth, M. Flynn et al. are involved).

I don’t think the ridiculous wailing and gnashing of teeth exhibited afterwards on a certain well-known message board is particularly unique to Huddersfield Town. Almost every single football team in the country has at least one independent message board and it’s safe to say most are populated with their fair share of ludicrously pessimistic souls, who clearly have absolutely no sense of perspective or the ability to see past their own rage and keyboard when coming up with posts. On the other hand, the blinkered optimists who can never seem to be able to bring themselves to call a bad game just that – a plain old Bad Game – equate every mildly negative post with a personal attack on them, their belief system, cat, dog, spouse and children (probably). Balance and even-handedness is a rare and wonderful thing and usually gets lost in the mêlée.

Anyway, the rambling point of this inaugural, some say début, some say premier (by the way, I am a massive fan of Baker and Kelly, so forgive me if I ever steal some of their quite marvellous turns of phrase during my blogging career) post is to give my take on the new gaffer. Stanley Ternent has enjoyed a fairly distinguished lower-league managerial career. Successive promotions with Bury in 1996 and 1997 were followed by promotion in 2000 (his second season) with Burnley. As I stated in my pre-season prediction for When Saturday Comes magazine, he gets teams out of this division for fun. At 62, it’s safe to say he isn’t on his way up the ladder towards bigger and better things, so we’ve probably got him as long as we want him.

His (many) signings during this transfer window have been a curious mix (and, by several accounts, he ain’t finished yet). Keigan Parker is an enigmatic, but not prolific, striker who enjoyed Jade Goody in 2006, chips in a whore-house in 2007 and promotion with Blackpool the same year. He hasn’t done much with Huddersfield Town yet, but his potential to frighten the life out of defences is noteworthy. Jim Goodwin was described by a Scunthorpe fan to me as: “someone who likes to point and shout a lot, then blast the ball over the bar”. He seems quite fierce in the tackle, but we already have Jon Worthington to do that. Mike Flynn is a blast from the Championship Manager past. As an 18-year-old at Newport County, he was worth taking a punt on. As a 27-year-old released Blackpool reserve, possibly less so. However, Stan remembers who did the business for him previously and Flynn was one of the players who almost helped him rescue a dead-and-buried Gillingham back in 2005. The signing of 24-year-old central defender Andy Butler was quite a coup as, unlike Goodwin, it appeared Scunthorpe wanted to keep him. The return of Chris Lucketti to the centre of defence as captain is a clear and fairly obvious statement of intent. His lack of pace is worrying, but if he had pace he would still be playing at a much higher level as he’s one of the best readers of the game I have ever seen in a Huddersfield Town shirt. Again, he is another player Ternent is familiar with, being the linchpin of the Bury defence who were promoted in successive seasons. Winger Gary Roberts from Ipswich for a rumoured £250,000 has been signing of the season so far. As well as scoring the consolation at the weekend, he scored two in the 4-0 Carling cup win against Bradford and has thoroughly impressed everyone so far with his work-rate, direct running and set-piece abilities. Former England international (one appearance!) David Unsworth has been signed as left-back competition to the consistently inconsistent Robbie Williams. 6’6″ rookie striker Tom Denton was snapped up from under the noses of Blackburn and Crystal Palace from the non-league obscurity of Wakefield FC. Midfielder Ian Craney provides yet more competition in central midfield, signing for an undisclosed fee (rumoured to be £200,000) from Accrington Stanley. A lot of money for a guy who seemingly couldn’t hack it in this division when he was at Swansea a couple of years ago. Finally, rangy 22-year-old striker Liam Dickinson has joined on a month’s loan from Derby County after making a £750,000 (potentially rising to £1m) move there in the summer.

The only major outgoing so far has been the sale for around £150,000 of David “Ox” Mirfin to Scunthorpe. Although popular with Huddersfield fans, he was one of those players that hadn’t ironed out the flaws in his game after showing early promise and it was perhaps predictable that Stan saw better potential in the Super Clarke Bros. than big Dave.

Stan’s direct, agricultural style may not sit well with some fans, but surely as his priority is to get Huddersfield Town out of this division, playing the only way he knows is to be expected. Once the priority has been achieved, we can think about consolidation and looking to younger coaches. Besides, even if a young manager did get us up there, we’d only end up losing him to a bigger club. I can’t see many chairman beating down Dean Hoyle’s door demanding to speak to Stan. Maybe the fact no-one else wants him is a good thing. Maybe I’m talking blinkered optimistic shite.


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