The upcoming season is vital for Huddersfield Town. After playoff heartbreak in the last two seasons, it is do or die in 2011/12. Manager Lee Clark has come so close, especially last season, to getting promotion to the Championship, and you might even say that this will be his last chance before chairman Dean Hoyle decides that he has to try something new.
On the transfer front, two big players have left The Galpharm. Lee Peltier signed for Sven’s Foxes, and Anthony Pilkington joined Premier League new boys Norwich City. Both transfers represented huge profits on the fees originally paid for them by Clark, which certainly looks good on not only Lee Clark’s CV as a manager who can develop young talent and turn a profit for his employer, but also makes the club attractive to young players looking to get a good start in the game.
Incoming, Town have signed seven players so far, five permanently and two on loan. The most exciting of the new arrivals is that of 21 year old attacking midfielder Donal McDermott, who has joined from Manchester City on a two year deal. He is well known to Terriers fans, as he played a starring role in last season’s playoff semi final for Bournemouth against Town, scoring a twenty five yard screamer to level the tie in the first leg.
Also joining up with the squad are defender Calum Woods, midfielders Tommy Miller and Oscar Gobern, centre back Liam Cooper on loan from Hull City, and Danny Ward for a ‘six figure sum’ from Bolton Wanderers. The winger enjoyed a superb loan spell at Huddersfield in the second half of last season, and his signing could be one of the best bits of business that the club do this summer. Damien Johnson, who was on loan from Plymouth Argyle last season, has rejoined on a season long loan from Home Park. His continued presence will add competition and strength to central midfield.
So who are all these players? Well, Woods is a product of Liverpool’s famous youth academy, but he failed to make the grade and was signed by Dunfermline Athletic in 2006 on a free transfer. He went on to make well over a hundred appearances in his five years with The Pars before moving to West Yorkshire, also on a free transfer. He helped Dunfermline win the Scottish First Division last season, and with it promotion to the SPL. Town will be hoping for him to bring similar success to the club!
Oscar Gobern is a twenty year old, left footed midfielder. He stands at 6ft 3′ tall, so should bring some much needed strength and dominance to midfield, something which has been lacking on occasion in the past. He prefers to play in the centre, but can also play out wide, although being so tall, he is likely to be more effective in the middle of the park. Also in midfield, highly experienced 32 year old Tommy Miller has joined on a free from Sheffield Wednesday. With over 400 games to his name he will bring a cool head and experience of the Championship and League One which will be invaluable to the younger players like Gobern and McDermott.
The final signing to date is the loan capture of teenage centre back Liam Cooper on a season long loan from Hull City. A Scottish international at U17 and U19 level, he will provide cover for the first choice central defenders Peter Clarke and Jamie “Boom Boom” McCombe.
So, that’s the transfer business up to date. What about the competition? Well, in the past few seasons there has always been one or two teams that were obvious favourites to go up. The likes of Leeds United, Leicester City, Southampton, Nottingham Forest and Norwich City have all been in the third tier in recent years. This season, though, there isn’t an opposition side that I would say are definitely going to finish above us this season.
Sure, the likes of Preston North End and both Sheffield clubs will probably beg to differ, but I genuinely feel we are the best bet for going up automatically, maybe even as champions.
Time will tell. Bring on the new season!
Written by James Bartaby, We Are Going Up’s Huddersfield Town Blogger
James tweets at @jamesb5374