WILL A LACK OF GOALS CATCH UP WITH THE TERRIERS?
Huddersfield come into 2018-19 on the back of two incredible, David Wagner-orchestrated campaigns. Promotion from the Championship via the play-offs in 2016-17, having finished 19th the previous term, was followed by 16th place in the Premier League – not too shabby for a side almost universally tipped to finish four spots below that.
They’re riding the crest of a wave, yet when it comes to scoring goals it’s more of a slow drip. Huddersfield netted only 28 league goals last season. That meant Town equalled a record set by George Graham’s Leeds in 1996-97 for the lowest tally scored by any team to stay in the Premier League.
The Terriers didn’t even outscore any of the three relegated clubs, and while we’re sure their fans didn’t give that a thought as they celebrated survival, it is a concern going into this season. Frankly, unless three clubs are somehow all managed by Alan Pardew at the same time, it’s unlikely we’ll see a trio of teams in 2018-19 as hapless as last season’s relegated batch. In short: Huddersfield need to score more goals.
Strikers would be the obvious place to start, seeing as top scorers Steve Mounie and Laurent Depoitre notched only seven and six league goals respectively. But both outperformed their ‘expected goals’ rating. They were actually tucking away chances at a decent rate, given the paltry lack of opportunities they had, so the issue could be more the supply than the finishing. In the ‘pasty Pirlo’ Aaron Mooy, Huddersfield boast a deep-lying playmaker that most teams would envy.
Their problem is the underperforming wingers and attacking midfielders in front of him. Tom Ince, Rajiv van La Parra and Elias Kachunga made a combined 85 league appearances and averaged a goal or an assist every nine and a half a matches. Between them. Early signings include Ramadan Sobhi, the Egyptian wideman who didn’t pull up many trees at Stoke but has potential.
Another investment is Juninho Bacuna, an attacking midfielder, Dutch under-21 international and brother of Reading’s Leandro – and not, in spite of his name, a Football Manager regen. He and Sobhi are 21. The manager’s faith in youth is admirable, if risky. Wagner has identified the creativity issue and tried to fix it. If Huddersfield can keep teams at bay (Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United allowed as many shots on target as they did last term), the Terriers could stay up – but they can’t afford to score only 28 goals again.