Opposition Q & A
After our pointless start to the season West Ham at last have a home fixture on Monday night against Premier League new boys Huddersfield Town who we last played at home in the league in 1972. We won that game 3-0 with a brace from Clyde Best and one from ‘Pop’ Robson. So far this season they have had two wins and incredibly have yet to concede a goal. This may not be the easy 3 point win that we might have presumed would be ours before the season started. Ahead of the game I spoke to John McNamara from Huddersfield fan site “terrierblog.co.uk”:https://www.terrierblog.co.uk/ to ask for his opinions on Huddersfield and Monday night’s game.
First off, congratulations on reaching the Premier League, at this stage last season did you realistically think you would be getting promoted?
Absolutely not. When we beat Newcastle away in the second game of the season, after several pints I tentatively suggested to my friends that we might get promoted. I was shot down in flames and kept my faint hopes/pipe dream to myself until around February when it looked like we might actually be serious contenders.
I don’t suppose there can be many of your fans alive who will remember your three consecutive league titles, and your FA Cup win, so you must be loving it, being ‘top dogs’ in Yorkshire again, lording it over the likes of ‘Dirty Leeds’.
I’ve only ever met one person who remembers the league titles, although I suspect he may have been exaggerating a bit! It’s brilliant to be the best team in Yorkshire, especially when we’ve had to endure the taunts of Leeds and Sheffield Wednesday fans for so long. I’ve grown tired of hearing about Chris Waddle and Lucas Radebe, we’re the number ones now and we’re not trading on past glories.
What’s the biggest difference between the Championship and the Premier League?
I’d say the ingenuity of attacks. In the Championship goals become almost predictable, a plethora of corners, throw-ins and long balls eventually lead to a chance or a goal. In the Premier League teams have the ability to get in behind your defence in the blink of an eye, no matter how well your defence was set.
You’ve had a great start to the season, but what position do you think Huddersfield Town will finish come next May?
In a pre-season blog I predicted we’d finish 16th, and I’ll stick by that. We will surprise teams this season and we’re nowhere near the relegation certainties that some pundits say we are. I don’t expect us to carry on this fantastic form but I do think we’ll get enough points to survive.
Your start is in direct contrast to ours: where do you think West Ham will end the season?
I had you as 11th in the aforementioned prediction, however I think I plumped for that because I like Slaven Bilic and I want to see him to do well. Now I think your position will ultimately depend on which manager you choose to go for after Bilic is shown the door. If he stays I think you could well finish 14th/15th.
Which three teams do you think will suffer relegation and who will lift the title this season?
Brighton definitely, I don’t think Hughton is tactically up to the task of the Premier League, I also see Swansea’s luck running out this term and I fear for Palace. I don’t trust their chairman to pick the right manager when he inevitably grows tired of De Boer. For the league, United are looking ominously well-drilled and Mourinho seems determined.
Dave Wagner seems to be doing a great job as your manager, tell us a bit about him, and how do the fans view him?
David Wagner was appointed completely from left-field. He’s the former Dortmund reserve team coach and he’s equally as entertaining as Jurgen Klopp. Wagner has helped to create an identity at the club which was sadly lacking when he joined, he’s also developed a real bond between the players and the fans, which is refreshing to see. In short, he’s a God and a legend, we love him!
Happy with your transfer window dealings? Are there any areas that you think still need improving?
Very happy. There’s always areas that could do with improving though and I’d have liked to see one more striker to come in and provide cover since Nahki Wells left for Burnley.
If you could have any current West Ham player in your first team who would you choose and why?
Michail Antonio. Whilst I don’t think he’s your best player I think he’d be the best suited to our style, he’s full-on, physical and aggressive, and that would suit us down to the ground!
Which Huddersfield player(s) will be key to your hopes this season?
The two most important players in my opinion are centre-back Schindler and central midfielder Mooy, they’re the spine of our team. Schindler is imperious at the back and a real leader and Mooy dictates our play and is capable of moments of magic.
How do you expect Huddersfield to setup against West Ham on Saturday/ Team/formation prediction?
We’ll play 4-2-3-1 and I’m almost certain our team will look like this;
Prediction for score?
I believe that our aggressive pressing will worry your defence and capitalise on any lack of confidence. I can see us taking a first-half lead and losing it in the second. I’ll go for 2-2.
Thanks for that John, however Slaven will surely have got the boys up for this one, and for my first visit to the London Stadium of the season I think I’ll be watching a home win. 2 – 1 to the Hammers – Come on you Irons!