Chairman Dean Hoyle reviews the 2014/15 season
Huddersfield Town Chairman Dean Hoyle believes the Club is stronger and better after finishing in its highest league position for 15 years.
After Chris Powell took charge in September with the club in 20th place with four points from five games the immediate task was stabilising and recovering after poor start, but that didn’t change the main objectives for the rest of the season:
• improvement in our playing squad with a priority focus on:
o increased Championship experience and quality of starters
o better depth coming from loans and emerging home grown development players
• further developing our style of play
• developing a strong team spirit and positivity within the squad
• demonstrating more of the characteristics required for success in the Championship
• out-performing our rivals by maximising the resources available
All this with the objective of improving our divisional position in the table against the 2013/14 season.
Town’s finishing league position this season is the highest since the Terriers gained promotion to the Sky Bet Championship in 2012 and comes on the back of a seven game unbeaten run at the end of the campaign under Manager Chris Powell. The finish is also Town’s sixth best in 44 years.
Dean Hoyle explained:
“The final points total and league position won’t be confirmed until 14 May 2015 until the Football League Board meeting considers Saturday’s events at Blackpool, but whatever the outcome it won’t change my view of the season.
“Overall this has been the best of our three seasons in the Sky Bet Championship so far and the Club’s highest finish a long time. Without the pitch invasion we might have ended in 15th, but I’m not bothered about that to be honest.”
“I’m really encouraged and optimistic. Had we managed to be on the right side of some more of a number of very closely fought games and score-lines we could easily have been even far higher than our finishing position in the table. No doubt other clubs could say the same, but I’m confident in similar circumstances next season we will manage those situations far better.
“The first month of the season was difficult as we sought to bring in a new manager, get some points on the board and recruit players in before the transfer window closed. However, I always knew the players would deliver given the right leadership.
“In term of demonstrating more of the characteristics required for success in the Championship there are lots of winning signs we want to see and have started to see like beating the best teams, scoring more goals, conceding fewer, more clean sheets and scoring first.
“The core squad that we end this season with is stronger than it was this time last year. The additions of Butterfield, Coady, Murphy and Hudson were exactly what we needed in terms of quality, experience and professionalism.
“We’ve certainly ended on a far more positive note in terms of performances and results. Last season we were also faced with backroom changes as well, and now we have no issues in that department this time. We have a genuine ‘feel-good’ factor around the Club and players and after a tough run it March, I see a change in the fans too; it’s really noticeable. We have certainly seen a much improved team-spirit and togetherness, which we wanted Chris to nurture.
“The Club is in a fantastic, stable position with no off-the-field distractions. Everyone can see the Championship is relentless and very tough every single week, no matter the opposition, so we need to keep things as simple as possible. The whole focus of effort and resources are 100% into football and winning on the pitch. It’s for me and the Board to continue to make sure it happens.
“It’s clear to see, looking up and down the Championship, unstable clubs find it harder to compete and be successful; they can fail even with huge amounts of cash and support. I think you can battle against the tide for a while but sooner or later, in the end it up catching you. The examples and there every year – we won’t be falling into that trap.
“We made a lot of squad changes in the last January window and took a bit of flack for operating with a smaller, tighter knit group. It carries some risk, but it makes for great team spirit. With the right balance of strength in depth, it works.
“Contract management is not something you do once a year after the season ends; it’s a constant process through the year that needs to be carefully planned. Our management of player contracts means players who have not played a part this season and have no future at the Club will all leave out of contract now. We don’t have lots of other players to exit, which is a common problem after a change of manager in a season.
“At the same time we have already re-signed a number of players during the year like Alex Smithies, Joel Lynch, Sean Scannell, Harry Bunn and Tommy Smith and almost all the core squad have long term contracts, like Nahki Wells, Jacob Butterfield and Conor Coady. That allows us to totally focus on on-the-field success and bringing new recruits in, which leaves us better placed than last year and many of our rivals who have new managers and new owners.
“There are lots of things to improve. In tight games set-pieces are important as we saw to our cost on a number of occasions. The likes of Ipswich and Brentford have shown how important they can be. Even modest improvement in our goals against column could make a big difference too. After another year of success for both the Under-21 and Under-18 teams, I am looking forward to seeing more home grown players break through. This is essential to our long-term sustainability.
“Every club sells players but we continue to be in the fortunate position that we don’t need to sell or plan to sell anyone to pay our bills or repay investors or loan companies. This means we can always make the right choices from a strong position for the benefit of the team and Club.
“All that stand us in good stead for next season, but we must get our recruitment right over the summer. That’s vitally important and probably the most difficult challenge we face. We’re confident that we can get the two or three key players that we’re targeting to come in and improve our First Team.
“Having transitioned into the Championship via the League 1 Play-Offs and now consolidated over the last three seasons, the aims for next season is to really push onwards up the league.”
Dean finished by emphasizing the importance of the fans’ support for the Club:
“I’d like to thank all Huddersfield Town fans for their support throughout the 2014/15 season; it’s hugely appreciated by everyone at the Club.
“2015/16 Season Cards are on sale now and form a massive part of our budget, so hopefully many of you can take advantage of the big savings on offer and get yours. To try and make them as affordable as possible, I’m happy to once again waive the administration fee on the 10-month interest-free payment option for another week to help spread the cost.”
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