Posts Tagged 'transfers'

Pickle ‘n’ Onion Nik Naks, Rubbish Drivers and Huddersfield Town

Scampi 'n' Lemon - The Business

After yesterday’s magnificent result away at Pete Winkleman’s Business Deal FC, you would think this post would contain nothing but unbridled bombast about how Jordan Rhodes and Theo Robinson are going to score fifty goals between them and Leeds and Charlton are just keeping the top two places warm for us while we go through the gears. Before that, however, I have two matters that must be addressed – and they are nothing to do with Huddersfield Town. I won’t even attempt to tenuously link them with a metaphor, as I previously did with the Sainsbury’s oranges.

First, what in blazers are KP snack foods thinking? While I am delighted that my ten pack Nik Naks multi-pack contained not one, not two, not even three but four extree bags of delicious extruded corn goodness, it appears there is no place left in the world for my all-time favourite flavour – namely scampi ‘n’ lemon – as they have been replaced by pickle ‘n’ onion (they’re taking this ‘n’ idea too far now – rib ‘n’ saucy was bad enough).

Now, I know this is probably a contentious issue, with half of the readership (about two-or-three of you, yeah?) now thinking “what the hell are you on about? Scampi ‘n’ lemon Nik Naks smell and taste like socks worn by someone with athlete’s foot for a week, then left down the radiator for four weeks”. Well you lot are wrong – they are magnificent. One of my regular memories from school was having a sneaky bag of sweets or crisps in one of my blazer pockets (yes, I went to Grammar school – it was a brown blazer) and the only time I ever got caught, and made to leave the classroom completely, was when I had secreted a bag of these wonderful things upon myself and several of my fellow classmates (who, to be fair, rarely snitched) could not stand the odour being given off. Anyway, scampi ‘n’ lemon – bring them back KP, or I’ll set up an online petition. You have been warned.

The second matter that must be addressed is best explained in the form of a photograph, taken by myself in Sainsbury’s car park:

Twat

Sweet Jesus – what on earth were you thinking, you massive bell-end? Do you hold your fellow human beings in such utter contempt as to not even attempt to park your huge gas-guzzling monstrosity properly? I certainly wouldn’t do it, but one day, you will reap the whirlwind in the form of a slashed tyre or a big key mark for this kind of shit.

Anyway, now the non-footballing stuff is out of the way, I should first recap how Huddersfield Town did at the arse-end of last season. After my rambling ‘Taste The Difference’ post, we played 11 – winning five, drawing three and losing three. We finished a mediocre ninth and if we hadn’t gone to sleep in the last minute against Stockport, Colchester and Millwall… we would still have finished outside the play-offs, so it didn’t matter anyway. Results in the run-in included a 3-1 defeat away at Tranmere, which pretty much killed our play-off hopes. This match was also notable for Tranmere’s useful-looking left-footed centre-back-converted-into-a-midfielder scoring a brace – more on him later. The 2-2 home game against Cheltenham featured them racing into a two-goal lead, before we pulled one back, missed a penalty (taken by Robbie Williams? Why?!?!) before finally scraping a draw in the last minute through an Andy Butler header. It also contained one of the most blatant sendings-off I have ever seen as Josh Low (he is no stranger to the red card) stamped on Tom Clarke right in front of the referee. Southend won 1-0 at our place, just as we had done at theirs earlier in the season. An excellent away win at Scunthorpe was followed by a rubbish 1-0 home win against Carlisle, which was only interesting as Andy Booth scored his 146th goal of his Huddersfield Town career. With three games left, could the big man score four more to get to 150? Incredibly, he could, as a fantastic 3-2 away win at Walsall (two for Booth), a 2-2 home draw against Brighton (one for Booth) and finally a 1-1 draw away at Leyton Orient (Boothy putting us in front) meant he ended his career on that magical 150 goals for Huddersfield Town. There’s another article in itself about this talismanic player and what he meant (and still means) to Huddersfield Town supporters, but instead I’ll just end this section with a picture of Andy doing what he did better than any other player I’ve ever seen at any level – winning the ball in the air and nutting it into the opposition net. Legend:

Boooooooothy

Anyway, Lee Clark was extremely busy during the summer. The welcome signing of Andy Kiwomya as fitness coach and the coup signing of Andrew “outstanding” Cole as striker coach meant the Town bench would probably need reinforcing due to the amount of bodies present. On the playing side, Clark adopted a sensible strategy of signing other teams in this division’s player of the year, plus players from the division above. Yeovil’s classy right-back Lee Peltier was the first signing for an ‘undisclosed fee’ (quelle surprise). Lee was followed by Peter Clarke and Antony Kay from Southend and Tranmere respectively (the latter being the useful-looking left-footed centre-back-converted-into-a-midfielder I mentioned earlier). Finally, we needed some decent strikers. Out went Keigan Parker (two goals all season – free to Oldham), Phil Jevons (four goals all season – two for us and two on loan at Bury – loaned to Morecambe for the season) and Tom Denton (two goals on loan at Woking – loaned to Cheltenham for the season) and in came Robbie Simpson (£300k from Coventry – wow! an actual amount!), Theo Robinson (undisclosed from Watford) and Jordan Rhodes (undisclosed from Ipswich). The signed of Rhodes raised a few eyebrows – especially among Ipswich fans, who had seen the lad knock in plenty of goals pre-season and heard Roy Keane say how he was going to be an important part of the season ahead. These three, plus the returning Lee Novak, who’s goals had helped Gateshead win promotion to the Conference, meant we had a strike-force that could potentially cause defences problems in this division. Just how many problems, I was entirely unprepared for.

After a so-so pre-season – winning against all the smaller clubs (apart from a 2-2 draw at Gateshead), drawing 0-0 at home to Coventry (predictably, the only one I went to see), losing 1-0 at home to Newcastle (featuring a massive fight between the players leading to Habib Beye getting booted in the chest and Lee Novak getting a whack on the chin) – Town began the season with a tricky away game at Southend. After going 2-0 down, the Town players finally started the season and goals from Pilkington and Rhodes on his début could have had the tin hat put on them by a winner, had Michael Collins not stupidly got himself sent off. Comprehensive 3-1 home wins to Stockport in the Carling Cup and Southampton in the league (Rhodes bagged a brace in each game, Robinson and Kay were the other scorers in each game respectively) were followed by an incredible 7-1 home league win against Brighton. It could have been a lot more, as Town were denied twice by the woodwork, once by an incorrect ‘had-it-crossed-the-line?’ decision and Rhodes missed a penalty. Amazingly, he didn’t score all night – Robinson got 2 and Kay, Peter Clarke, Novak (pen), Roberts and Danny Drinkwater (on-loan from Man United) were the other scorers. The best goal of the night was the Brighton equaliser, a superb volley on the turn scored by blast-from-last-season Liam Dickinson.

It was Typical Town™ the following Saturday as they travelled, full of confidence, to Bristol Rovers and promptly lost 1-0. After giving away a penalty in the first half, which Smithies saved, it was no such luck in the second as another penalty was awarded in the 84th minute and walloped in by Jeff Hughes. The next match was an action-packed 4-3 defeat at St James’ Park, Newcastle, where Town lead 3-1 just after half-time (Robinson twice  and Rhodes) but Shola Ameobi broke the travelling fans’ hearts by first netting a 64th minute penalty, then setting up Kevin Nolan to slot in the winner six minutes from the end. It was tremendous radio and I am jealous of anyone who was actually there. Yesterday’s delicious 3-2 defeat of Franchise FC (Rhodes, Robinson and Kay) was preceded by a tough 2-1 home win against Yeovil (Robinson and Collins) and a slightly less-tough 2-1 Johnstone’s Paint Trophy away win at Rotherham (Peter Clarke and Robbie Simpson) on a pitch half-decimated by a U2 concert a few weeks earlier:

Don Valley Stadium Pitch

So Town currently sit third in the league on 13 points (played 6, won 4, drawn 1, lost 1) and have two on-fire strikers in Theo Robinson and Jordan Rhodes with 4 goals in 6 league games apiece). Ordinarily, this would have probably put us in the top two, but Charlton and those wretches from Beeston have gone and won every single game they’ve played so far and both sit joint top with 18 points. Still, we mustn’t worry or panic, as there’s only one club in the top three who has a decent chairman and they’ll both probably lose all their best players in January. Now, if KP snack foods and that twat of a 4×4 driver above could just ‘fall-in’ by respectively bringing back scampi ‘n’ lemon and learning how to park, my small world would be a god damn fantastic place right now.

Taste The Difference? Tastes The Same To Me…

Taste The DifferenceSo here I am, sat in on a Saturday night tucking into Sainsbury’s ‘Taste The Difference’ clementines. Life is pretty good, you may be thinking?, well you’re wrong – and here’s why.

You see, the ‘Taste The Difference’ stuff is not that different to yer standard Sainsbury’s clementine. I still have to use a key (or a wife) to start the peeling off, because I don’t have any fingernails (more on why in the footnote). I still have to spit the fucking pips into a bin like I’m the starting pitcher for the Yankees, or even one of those old-timey bearded guys who sits on a rocking chair in Western films hocking loogies into a spittoon with an audible ‘ping’. Admittedly, they’re a definite step up from the Sainsbury’s ‘Basics’ clementine. I dread to think what horrible, cramped conditions those poor oranges were brought up in.

Where am I going with this? Well the reason I bought the ‘Taste The Difference’ product was… I don’t really know. You spend more, so you expect to get better quality. Even what you can’t actually ‘taste’ the ‘difference’, you pretend to yourself that you can because you desperately want to justify to yourself that those clementines were worth the extra fifty pence or whatever. I actually imagine that extra dough probably goes on marketing and packaging (I would appreciate any comments from Sainsbury’s clarifying this).

OK, but where does this posting relate to Huddersfield Town?

Four months ago we gave Stan Ternent the boot. It had to happen – the stubborn old fool was making all the academy lads cry and blaming everyone but himself for the team of mainly his signings run around the pitch like a pack of drunken fuckwits. In his fifteen games in charge he had won four, drawn five and lost six – amassing seventeen miserable points. Despite Dean Hoyle’s blah-blah’ing about it being for a ‘difference of opinion’ and that he believed Stan ‘would get us promoted’, this low points total was the reason Ternent was sent packing. At this point, as discussed in the previous post, in steps Gerry Murphy. Despite getting knocked out of the FA Cup at home to Port Vale in freakish fashion, Gerry, with the help of Graham Mitchell, wins four out the five games he is in charge to help us back up into the top half of the table (the sole defeat at home to Leyton Orient was, apparently, a massacre but we just couldn’t score). So that’s twelve points from five games. Impressive.

With great fanfare, Huddersfield Town announce a management team that sent shockwaves throughout League One (well, it should have done, but League One doesn’t really work like that – the fans of Hartlepool and Brighton etc. just raised their eyebrows slightly and said ‘oh’). Lee Clark was to come in as manager, with Terry McDermott as his assistant, Derek Fazackerley as first-team coach and Steve Black as performance coach. Clark was previously assistant manager at Norwich and has apparently been coaching since he was nineteen. McDermott was Kevin Keegan’s right-hand man at Newcastle in the early 90’s. Fazackerley was previously a scout at Manchester City under Sven Goran Eriksson and had worked with Kevin Keegan in the England set-up. ‘Blackie’ (he sounds like one of Prince Charles’ friends) used to throw drunken people through windows as a bouncer in Newcastle, but now seems to help glass-legged rugby players stop crying and can supposedly motivate dozy footballers with his friendly beard and jolly, affable nature. This was a real ‘Taste The Difference’ management team. The season starts here! NOTHING CAN POSSIBLY GO WRONG NOW!

(Aside: at this point I was looking for footage of a plane crash on YouTube to have as a link and couldn’t find one where no-one died and the video had the excellent neeeeeeeeeeaaaaaoooooowwwwwww sound as the plane heads down. Don’t look for plane crashes on YouTube by the way – it’s grim…)

Anyway, Clark and his high-priced team brought in several players in the January transfer window. Lionel Ainsworth is a short-arse right winger who has zero tricks. None. He does however run like Usain Bolt with his arse on fire, so getting past the left-back is a simple matter of knocking it past him and getting there first. He looks promising and, along with Cadders, means we’re probably covered for right wingers now. Anthony Pilkington is a winger who can play on either wing or up front. Such versatility means, along with Gary Roberts, we’re probably covered for left-wingers now. So that’s four quality wingers – each capable of beating their man and pinging the ball into the box. Now, given that our previous strikeforce of Keigan Parker (two goals, short, mental) Phil Jevons (two goals, short, lazy, useless), Andy Booth (two goals, permanently injured) and Danny Broadbent (zero goals, fuck knows because I’ve never seen him play) haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory this season, surely a striker or two was on the cards?

After being linked with every striker in every league (sample names: Danny Graham, Chris Porter, Rickie Lambert, Paul Gallagher) Lee announces with great fanfare that we have secured the services of Jonathan Téhoué. Signed, presumably, on the strength of this video, a brief trial where he scored against a team of Blackburn’s ball-boys and his agent saying he’s available on a free. He has yet to play for Town, however, due to the small matter that he is contracted to Konyaspor in Turkey until 2011. Now, I may know fuck-all about the ins and outs of a professional football club, but isn’t it better to make sure something can definitely happen before announcing it with great fanfare? There’s the usual bluster about taking it to FIFA or whoever, but the fact is we cannot play the guy and probably won’t until next season – if we offer him a contract because the contract he supposedly has with us only runs until the end of this one. Farce all the way around, down and back up again. Typical Town, if you like.

The second striker Lee signed is called Lee Novak. He cost close to a hundred thousand pounds. He likes to score goals and has banged plenty in for Gateshead in the Conference North in the first half of the season. Let’s get him in and see how he does, right? Wrong. Apparently, them getting promotion into the Conference is more important than Huddersfield having a player who can actually stick the ball in the back of the fucking net on a regular basis. Back on loan to them for the rest of the season – part of the deal you see. To add insult to injury, we have even now loaned them one of our other strikers (Danny Broadbent) as well. So much for us being a big club – we get pushed around by the likes of Gateshead these days.

The final signing is young Everton striker Lukas Jutkiewicz. So far, he hasn’t impressed. Instead of using his height in the box getting on the end of all those yummy crosses and making himself a nuisance for opposition defenders, Lukas seems to waft around the pitch like a paper bag in the wind. He tries less than Phil Jevons, which I didn’t actually think was possible without pulling the Huddersfield shirt off and donning one of the opposition. He also hasn’t scored a goal in nearly two years of professional football. What. The. Fuck. Did. We. Sign. Him. For?

Mind you, at least we’ve got rid of Keigan Parker – he’s been shipped out to Hartlepool on loan. Watch out both chip and knocking shops in the Hartlepool area – that’s all I can say.

Anyway, back to my initial point. As I mentioned earlier, Huddersfield had forgone Stan Ternent’s ‘standard’ management team because they felt that with a bit more cash, we (the supporters) would be able to ‘taste the difference’ with Lee Clark and his mob. Now, given that Gerry Murphy managed twelve points from five games without Lee’s carefully selected brace of wingers and hat-trick of strikers, guess how many more points this lot have managed in fifteen games (exactly the same amount Ternent had)?

Three. Three measly points. Won five, drawn five, lost five – twenty points in fifteen games. I don’t actually feel I’m tasting the difference here.

Footnote: Here’s why I don’t have any fingernails right now – in the last three games Huddersfield Town have either been winning or drawing, before the opposition have scored in injury time. Nathan Clarke equalised for Stockport deep into injury time last Saturday to celebrate signing his new contract the previous day, Dean Hammond celebrated his granddad inventing the organ by knocking in the slowest free-kick ever in the third minute of injury time to rescue a point for Colchester on Tuesday night and today Millwall stroked home the winner thirty seconds before the end of the match (and, incredibly, ten seconds after we had a corner – their defender picked it up just outside his own box and ran the length of the pitch like Forrest Gump – it was truly breathtaking to watch).

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.