Yorkshire news Carelessness, Eiting's promise and issues for Corberan: Five conclusions MetiNews.Com
MetiNews.Com - A high-octane and error-riddled Championship game away to Stoke City saw seven goals shared between the sides but no points for the Terriers to take back to Yorkshire
Breaking News ! Huddersfield Town fell to a frustrating 4-3 defeat away to Stoke City on Saturday afternoon. Carel Eiting’s goal midway through the first half gave the visitors the advantage but within ten minutes they were 2-1 down after Tyrese Campbell hit a quickfire double, taking his goal tally against the Terriers in 2020 to four goals in two games. Isaac Mbenza’s goal off Eiting’s through ball restored parity but again Town were quick to concede with Campbell again involved in forcing an Richard Stearman own goal. Stoke made it 4-2 soon after the break through Sam Clucas, meaning Naby Sarr’s header from Mbenza’s crossed free kick was not enough to get anything out of the game for Town. Here are our five conclusions on the game. Sign up for the Huddersfield Town newsletter Why you should sign up? We will bring you all the best and latest Huddersfield Town news and analysis direct to your inbox. We have the latest features, nostalgia and opinion as we bring you the best coverage around the Terriers. How do you sign up? It's easy and takes seconds. Simply type your email address into the box at the top of this article or any article on the Huddersfield Town section of Yorkshire Live - and that's it, you're all set. You can unsubscribe at any time and your data will not be shared with any other party. You can also follow us on Twitter or Facebook. For full details, click here. 1. Carelessness is holding back a promising side Championship teams who have failed to score in fewer games than Huddersfield Town (2): None. They share the same record as Bournemouth, Bristol City and Swansea City, who are 2nd, 3rd and 4th respectively. Championship teams who have kept fewer clean sheets than Town (3): Coventry City, Nottingham Forest, Rotherham United, Wycombe Wanderers, Derby County. They are all in the bottom six. No other Championship side has lost after going ahead more than once this season; Town have done it three times, all in the space of the last six games. For all their many, many faults last season, they only lost after taking the lead three times across all 46 games. You can accept that playing out from the back carries inherent risks, and you can probably write off at least a portion of Stoke’s second goal to that. You also expect silly mistakes from time to time; there’s a reason these players are playing in the Championship and not the Premier League. When you’re watching the same team week after week you have to be careful not to put every single goal they concede down to poor defending while attributing every goal they score to their own clever play. There’s often a bit of both involved and that can sometimes get lost as we switch between rose-tinted and black-tinted glasses. But even the most generous interpretation cannot ignore that Town are shipping far, far too many silly and avoidable goals that are nothing to do with shape or organisation or style, and everything to do with players making stupid basic errors when the slightest bit of pressure is applied to them. If this had been their sixth game in the space of 17 days and the players were just completely mentally and physically frazzled we could…not accept it, but understand it. But they’ve just had two weeks on the training pitch to sort out exactly this kind of thing, and it’s not like they’ve not had plenty of prior warnings that this is an issue. Read More Related Articles Carlos Corberan pinpoints why Huddersfield Town keep blowing leads after Stoke City defeat Read More Related Articles Self-destructive Huddersfield Town must learn to get out of their own way 2. Stoke’s homework paid off by forcing errors We’re not going to sit here and pretend it was an absolute masterclass from Michael O’Neill’s side given that they still conceded three goals at home, the last of which saw them give 6’5” Naby Sarr a completely unmarked header six yards out. Both sides were as bad as each other at the back, in truth; it just so happened that Town got caught out once more than the opposition. But the fascinating thing about modern football is how quickly sides can identify strengths and weaknesses in the opposition and try to work out ways to cancel out one and exploit the other. By targeting Jonathan Hogg, Stoke managed to do both. O’Neill explained after the game: “I thought [Nick] Powell was terrific today to be honest. We asked him to do a specific job on Hogg to nullify them and we got a lot of opportunities from that.” Nowhere was that more true than for Stoke’s second goal, which saw Powell chase down Hogg the moment he received the ball from Carel Eiting as Town tried to build a counter-attack before immediately sending his side sprinting towards the Town goal. (And just to acknowledge quickly: there’s no way that shot should have beaten Joel Pereira at the near post.) Stoke also blocked Town’s path to Hogg three times in the build-up to their third goal, and it was Pereira ridiculously deciding to try and find him regardless that allowed Tyrese Campbell to steal the ball and rush into the box before forcing Richard Stearman’s unfortunate own goal. Nick Powell closes down Jonathan Hogg and wins the ball in the build-up to Stoke's second goal (Source: Wyscout) Such is football: if a particular player has a run of good games, the next opponent will go out of their way to stop them from playing. The Potters had clearly identified that so many good things about Town’s performances against Millwall and Luton had gone through Hogg, and intentionally set out to disrupt him.
. We might not have mentioned that except that it’s at least the third time this season we’ve seen Town dither over how best to take a set piece in their own half and get vocally annoyed at the opposition for quite legitimately standing in the way of their passes. Perhaps we’re reading too much into it (there are very few things that don’t annoy Hoggy during games), but it’s not always been him getting annoyed, and at times it feels like Town go into games almost expecting to be allowed to play and are then surprised and frustrated when they’re not. Is that playing a part in those silly errors? The other two goals were failures to deal with second balls at set pieces – but honestly, we’ve spent so long dissecting and discussing Town’s frailties from dead balls over the last 15 months that we have nothing new to add. We all know it’s not good enough, and after a pretty reasonable start to the season on this front Town once again find themselves top of the table for set piece goals conceded (5).
3. Carel Eiting is hitting his stride We thought the Ajax loanee had been brought in to play in the number 6 role, so it’s been a pleasant surprise to see him deployed as Town’s most advanced attacking player in recent games. Our main criticism of Eiting so far has been that he’s (quite understandably) needed a fraction of a second more on the ball than he is ever likely to get in the Championship; he’s just not used to not having a lot more time on the ball. But while Eiting’s early showings were slightly underwhelming on the whole, his vision and his ability to pick a pass have never been in question. Playing Eiting further up the pitch hides his weaknesses and accentuates his positives. It both puts him in a position where if his need for extra thinking time does get caught out by the opposition the consequences are unlikely to be too dire, and gives Town a talented playmaker in the final third in Alex Pritchard’s absence and means the unreliable Juninho Bacuna can be kept as an impact player off the bench. The same technique that makes Eiting such a lovely passer of the ball also saw him score here as he almost passed a volley into bottom corner off Harry Toffolo’s absolutely perfect cross to finish a move between the left-back, Josh Koroma and Lewis O’Brien (the winner of this week’s prestigious Player Who On Second Watch Was Better Than I Initially Gave Him Credit For award, incidentally). Having Eiting on the right despite being left-footed allows that left-sided combination to stay together – and means the most talented passer Town have on the pitch is close to Isaac Mbenza. Which solves yet another issue… 4. Town are finding better balance in attack No Championship team has been more lopsided than Huddersfield Town this season: a huge amount of their play has gone up that left side, and astonishingly little up the right. With Toffolo in such good form – that’s four assists for the season already now – you can’t really blame them to an extent, but it has meant the right winger – whomever it might be – has been left isolated and unused on too many occasions. We noted exactly that with regard to Adama Diakhaby against Birmingham and Isaac Mbenza against Bristol City. That made Town too predictable and meant sides started paying much closer attention to Toffolo. But close attention on one part of the pitch means there is opportunity elsewhere, and you just felt that if Town could start find a way to use their right winger more they might be able to start surprising the opposition. Not having Pipa on the pitch meant Town actually spent less time overall on the right in this game than they usually do – but that’s including their touches in their own half, and Demeaco Duhaney was much less involved than the busy young Spaniard usually is. Once they got into the opposition half they actually used Mbenza far, far more often than they have previously. He had 52 touches to Koroma’s 16 – a pretty stark difference even considering Mbenza played for 30 minutes longer than his counterpart on the opposite flank, and even taking into account that Toffolo shared attacking duties with Koroma much more than Duhaney did with Mbenza.
Shooting from right to left, Isaac Mbenza's touches against Stoke. (Source: WhoScored)
Their reward for finally using their right winger properly was a well-taken goal at the end of a superbly-timed run to bring the score back to 2-2. Credit should also go to Fraizer Campbell for his quick thinking in taking a throw-in to Eiting before Stoke had a chance to realise what was happening, and to Eiting for being alert to Mbenza’s run and finding it with a lovely through ball. The pair had linked up nicely in the opening stage of the game, but that was the first time Town were able to release Mbenza in a central position, rather than out on the wing – that element of surprise again. Notice, too, that we’re no longer talking about what a pleasant surprise Mbenza is. He’s now quite simply a good winger who we expect to play well at least as often as not. Which is nice.
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5. Town’s issues are fixable Win, lose or draw, Carlos Corberan is always very measured in his post-match analysis, but we suspect that behind closed doors he’s becoming increasingly frustrated that the players keep doing so many things well and then shooting themselves in the foot. On balance, though, if we were a manager we’d much rather have a team that was scoring goals but conceding too many because of stupid error than one that doesn’t concede that many but doesn’t have goals in them. It’s easier to coach a good team to defend than it is to coach a poor one to attack. Every manager’s honeymoon period comes to an end at some point – some faster than others – and we have privately wondered how long it would take for the novelty of Corberan’s approach to start losing its lustre with the fans and for “well, at least we’re scoring goals” to give way to “who cares if we’re scoring when we keep conceding so many?” As a culmination of several repeated issues, this game felt like the one where that line was crossed. To have scored ten goals in the last six games and only have one win to show for it will inevitably mean fans start demanding points to go along with their excitement. In Corberan’s defence, it’s not like he’s going into the dressing room and telling the players to make sure they take every unnecessary risk they possibly can just to spice things up. But it’s clear that the players have a major issue with game management, and when that is happening so consistently and afflicting the team en masse rather than being the folly of just one or two players, it is on Corberan and his coaching team to sort it out.
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