Grayson previews Monday’s game at Blackpool
Huddersfield Town Manager Simon Grayson will return to a familiar club in Blackpool on Monday night – and he knows his current side are in for one of their greatest tests of the season against Ian Holloway’s promotion favourites.
Town go into the live Sky TV clash with the Tangerines on the back of their first away win in the second tier, which came at Sheffield Wednesday in midweek.
“The performance on Wednesday night was very good, but ultimately it’s about getting the win and we did that by doing what we had to throughout the course of the game,” Simon told htafc.com.
“There were different aspects to the game that I was really pleased with; we started the game well, passing the ball around well and getting two early goals, plus we looked really comfortable – there was a good shape to the team.
“The team overcame a bit of adversity with Joel getting sent off and we had to be dogged and resolute to withstand a big, strong, powerful opponent with a big crowd behind them. We had to find a way to handle them and we certainly did that.
“It’s nice to get our first away win under our belt because I think we have played well away from home so far. At Cardiff we should have got at least a draw and at Ipswich we missed a penalty with five minutes to go that could have resulted in a victory. It was nice to get the win, especially in a local derby.”
Lynch’s red card at Hillsborough looked a little harsh, but Grayson revealed that the Club is unlikely to contest the decision:
“I don’t think we will be appealing. We’ve looked at the video and it’s a real grey area; I still don’t believe it’s a red card, but it’s somewhere between that and a yellow! I think we’d be wasting our time though – panels don’t usually change their mind on these unless it’s black and white – and we don’t want to lose him for another game, so we’ll have to accept the punishment.”
Since Wednesday night’s victory, Kallum Higginbotham has joined npower League 1 outfit Carlisle United on loan – a move Simon explained was right for all three parties.
“It’s very much part of the development of the players – the lads that go out on loan still have a future here. Kallum asked to go out on loan and we agreed that it’s a good opportunity for him, but we’ll keep an eye on him. I’m pleased with how Liam Ridehalgh and Chris Atkinson are doing out on loan at Chesterfield and it’s all to help the development of the individuals in question, as well as the Club.
“I’m not under any pressure to move any players out on loan though. We have a group here all competing for the jerseys; we have real competition for places and that means we can change systems and personnel when we need to. It’s about getting the right balance of what’s right for the individuals as well as the Club.”
Monday night will see Town play a Club that Grayson knows well; having played over 150 games for Blackpool, Simon then took charge of the First Team and led the Club to promotion to this division.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Simon said of his Bloomfield Road return. “I was disappointed I didn’t get the chance to go back last year as I had six good years at Blackpool; three as a player and three as a manager. It was a successful time and it played a big part in my footballing career.
“To lead Blackpool to promotion at Wembley was great and we then stabilised the team in the Championship, which was no mean feat at the time as we didn’t have a big budget and the facilities were not up there with the other teams. However, the Club has gone from strength to strength and I’d like to think I played some part in that.
“We had a good team ethic when I was there and I think around six to eight players in their Premier League team were my signings – the likes of Wes Hoolahan. There was a unity within the group; we stuck together at the team and there was a special atmosphere at the ground, particularly at night matches. It’s a fantastic football club and it’s on the up.
“However, it is all about Huddersfield Town for me now. I’ll see a few old friends there, but I want to disappoint them because we’ve come away with a victory!”
Another member of Town’s squad making a return to the west coast is midfielder Keith Southern, who completed a transfer to ‘The Yorkshire Club’ from Blackpool during the summer.
Simon continued: “I think he’s showed what he can do, but he also influences the younger players – his calmness has rubbed off on the likes of Ollie Norwood, Danny Ward and Adam Clayton. Keith will run through a brick wall for you and that is reflecting in the rest of the players. We have a nice set of ingredients in the middle of the park at this moment in time.
“He’s looking forward to Monday night – as is Peter Clarke, who played a big part for Blackpool previously. The only way they will enjoy the game is by winning though.”
Blackpool currently sit second in the early npower Championship table after an impressive start to the new campaign and Grayson is under no illusions as to the challenge that awaits his side on Monday evening.
“It will be one of the toughest games of the season. I watched them on Tuesday night against Middlesbrough and they were very good – they could have been four or five up at half time and the same in the second half. They have a way of playing that a lot of teams can’t deal with – there’s a lot of rotation in midfield and attack to a very high standard.
“It’s a good place to go, as Bloomfield Road creates a good atmosphere. It’s a challenge, but our players are looking forward to it. We will have to be on our guard and at the top of our game because Blackpool have turned over some good teams this year; they are at the top of the division and one of the favourites to go up this year.
“We’ll go there aware of what they can do, but equally I’m sure they are aware of what we can do. We have some good footballers that will cause any team problems. Sometimes I think teams go there and are in awe of them; they try to change their tactics and it doesn’t suit them.
“Our defence will be tested. We’ll be without Joel Lynch, but Anthony Gerrard will come in and he’s been waiting patiently for his opportunity. For the majority of this season we’ve had a good shape on the pitch and that has limited opportunities for our opposition, but that will certainly be tested on Monday as Blackpool have goals in them.
“I like him; he’s wholehearted and he’s a leader. He’s had to wait patiently for his opportunity because the team has been doing so well, but he can come in now and try to grasp his opportunity.”
One man who is likely to miss out is loanee Adam Hammill – the winger also missed the Sheffield Wednesday clash after picking up a knock against Derby County just under a week ago.
“Adam is struggling with his knee; I would say he will be a major doubt for Monday. It’s something he picked up in an innocuous challenge last weekend – I think he just blocked a ball. He’s in the hands of the physios.”
Tickets for the Blackpool game are on sale online (click HERE) until 3pm on Friday and at the HTAFC Ticket Office until 4pm on Monday, whereas Town fans can also pay in cash at the Away Ticket Office on the evening of the game at Bloomfield Road