Town Manager’s thoughts on Sky Bet Championship opener
- Chris Powell previews game at Hull City
- Manager discusses team shape and defence
- "Huddersfield Town will be 'at it'" - Chris
After overseeing his first pre-season as Huddersfield Town Manager, Chris Powell can’t wait for the Sky Bet Championship season to get under way at Hull City on Saturday.
Town’s pre-season period has highlighted good and bad areas for the Manager, who believes they have worked out some of the kinks ahead of the League campaign getting started:
“Pre-season is all about getting everyone together as a group and setting the aims,” Chris told htafc.com.
“Ours has been a little bit fragmented by a few injuries that stopped a few people going to Spain, on top of Jason Davidson’s short return home. In some ways it was good to get some of the younger players in and around it, but the senior absentees might have reflected in some of the results we’ve had.
“Sometimes it is better that the areas that need improvement come to the fore at this stage, so we can really pinpoint them and improve.
“I’ve enjoyed pre-season, despite some of the results. Now we have points to play for and the pressure is on, starting on Saturday. I’m happy that the season is here, because it’s what we’ve all been waiting for!”
Powell has employed several different systems in the pre-season fixtures, but explained that he knows how his team will line-up at the KC Stadium and beyond.
“We settled on a system last year that saw us end the season unbeaten, but we’ve got some new players in now. We’ve had to account for the handful of injuries we’ve had in pre-season too by changing the shape somewhat.
“We have a preferred way of playing, but equally we must ensure we have a few different options. We have to take each opponent on its merits. We must utilise everything we have in our squad by employing a shape that will earn us points and win us games.
“We have to make sure we have everyone in the right positions, which I don’t feel we’ve really done that in games at times. The players have been involved in that process, as they have to be clear in the objectives.”
One area in need of improvement from the 2014/15 campaign is Town’s defence; something Powell is well aware of.
He continued: “We know we can improve in this area. If we can do that by just 5 or 10%, we will be better off points-wise. We didn’t get enough clean sheets last season and generally conceded too many goals.
“I don’t feel we did ourselves justice defensively; as a unit we are better than what we’ve shown. That is something for the players to target; to cut out the individual errors and silly mistakes.
“Attack-wise, we are strong. Nahki Wells has been very good this pre-season; Ishmael Miller came in and made a real difference last season and we have James Vaughan and Jordy Hiwula, who scored goals last season. We want more goals from other midfield sources than Jacob Butterfield and Harry Bunn, but I’m comfortable in that aspect.
“We have players who are on the front foot and want to get forward, like the wide players and Jacob. That won’t change, because they do that naturally and I want them to express themselves; we’re a better team on the front foot. What I have to do is make them even more aware of their responsibilities when they don’t have the ball so we help out the defence, which has its own part to play as well.”
Strikers Miller and Vaughan have only limited time on the pitch under their belts ahead of the season and Powell was coy as to their availability for the game in Humberside:
“They don’t have a lot of minutes in the bank like everyone else and the real stuff is always a bit quicker than pre-season. It is good to have those two back with us though, as it boosts the numbers in the squad.
“Come Saturday, I’m hopeful everyone will be available for selection.”
The Terriers’ first test of 2015/16 is not an easy one, with the trip to face a side that plied its trade in the Premier League last term.
Chris concluded: “We’ve trained and prepared specifically for this game since Monday; the physical workload has come down in favour of prep work in the classroom and on the grass.
“Hull City away is tough and I don’t follow any school of thought that suggests playing them so early on will make it easier, as we’re all in the same boat.
“Hull has a squad that largely played in the Premier League last season and a good manager in Steve Bruce. That won’t change whether we play them now or in 2016. They will have aspirations to bounce straight back, but we have our own aspirations this season. We will do our best to be right ‘at it’ from the very first minute.
“We’ll take things game by game and see where it takes us. We have ambitions to show further improvement and be better than last year. We’ll need the supporters to help us when things don’t go well, but equally I want to see the most difficult thing to achieve – consistency. I’ll drive the players to work hard and do the best they can.”
Subject to availability, tickets for this game will be available from the John Smiths Stadium Ticket Office until 4pm on Friday; click HERE for price info.
As of 4pm on Thursday, 250 of Town's allocation remain available.
This is an ALL TICKET fixture for Town Supporters and there will be no availability on the day.