Cue the euphoria. Huddersfield are in the big time, but can they live with the step up?
And breathe. Huddersfield Town join Newcastle and Brighton in the Premier League after they secured play-off promotion, for the first time in 45 years. A nail-biting penalty shoot out(4-3) was necessary to part the Terriers from the Royals.
“I couldn’t be prouder, happier, it’s an incredible feeling, I can’t find the words”– Skipper Tommy Smith, speaking to BBC Radio Leeds in the aftermath.
The last time Huddersfield sat in England’s top tier was between 1970-72. It’s been a long wait to get another swing at the big boys. As is always with the Championship high flyers who make the climb up, their credentials are immediately questioned:
Do they have enough quality? Is there enough depth in the squad? Are they together as a team? Will they have any money to spend? Will they lose their ‘family club’ identity?
Out of the three sides that gain promotion, there is normally one heavy weight, which is expected to cope and hang on to their new status, this time that’s Rafa’s Newcastle. There’s one that you HOPE do really well because of their pleasant football style and because of how they’ve been somehow denied promotion on previous occasions, that’s Brighton. And then there’s the play off winner, which is always a surprise, always a lottery and the team that everyone seems to know least about. Enter Huddersfield.
So can they stay up? It will take a lot. Reasons to be optimistic are as follows:
One thing is for sure, to survive in the Premier League, you need to hit the back of the net, regularly. Huddersfield won’t need telling that they won’t be ‘holding’ the big boys and grinding out results. Their best chance is to convert and hurt the opposition. In the form of Nakhi Wells and Elias Kachunga, they pose a threat. The duo struck 21 goals between them in all competitions, and if held onto this summer, will be key players for the Terriers, come August.
2)Fear of the unknown
By this I don’t imply that Huddersfield will be fearful of their new division, but that their opponents next season will know little about them. Premier League clubs will be rifling through the video cabinets over the summer, trying to get to grips with what Huddersfield are all about and how best to deal with them. Guaranteed, they will catch some teams out next season, no one will particularly look forward to rocking up at the Kirkless Stadium. Their best chance of staying up- create themselves a fortress.
The summer just got a little more interesting, big signings will be needed.