Dean Hoyle’s bold decisions are reaping rewards for Huddersfield
September 26, 2012 in Championship
You often hear the chants of a manager’s name ringing around football stadiums, but when was the last time you heard a set of fans chanting their owner or chairman’s name? Well, if you were listening closely Monday night to the last 10 minutes of Blackpool vs Huddersfield, you’d have heard the refrain of “there’s only one Dean Hoyle” loud and clear from the Huddersfield fans.
Huddersfield have had quite a week. After a good start to the league, they have gone and managed 3-1 away wins against both Sheffield Wednesday and Blackpool in back-to-back games. They lie 2nd in the league and people are starting to sit up and take notice. Unfortunately, none of those to take notice are the ones who castigated Dean Hoyle for sacking Lee Clark back in February. Perennial Twitter warriors Stan Collymore, Jack Wilshire and Wayne Rooney all came out in support of Clark back then, claiming “the game has gone mad” – rumour has it they all have the same agent or agency. However, all are now silent on the matter even though Huddersfield sit pretty in 2nd and Clark is struggling to retain his sanity and his job at Birmingham.
Dean Hoyle is a lifelong Huddersfield fan and took an extremely hard decision in sacking Clark. However, whilst the pundits saw stats, Hoyle saw facts. Hoyle is a fan first and owner second; he knew performances were sliding backwards, he knew that this “unbeaten run” meant little considering how much of that run was draws from winning positions and he knew more than anyone how much money Clark had spent to take Huddersfield, well, nowhere. It was a bold move to replace him with Simon Grayson, and luckily, Grayson managed to get Huddersfield over the line in the playoffs.
It has been since then, however, that Hoyle’s decisions have really started to pay dividends. Grayson has already sorted out the two areas of the team that Clark never managed to address, central midfield and central defence. In have come Adam Clayton, Oliver Norwood and Keith Southern who have already formed a formidable midfield trio – Norwood especially standing out with his passing and playmaking ability. Grayson has also brought in Joel Lynch and Anthony Gerrard to central defence. Lynch has started the season as a rock next to club captain Peter Clarke, but after he picked up a red card against Wednesday, Gerrard came in Monday night and threw everything on the line to keep Blackpool down to just the single goal.
Hoyle, however, faced maybe his biggest challenge as owner towards the end of the summer with the sale of Jordan Rhodes. Standing firm at his £8m asking price, Hoyle has probably pulled off the deal of the decade. Hoyle admitted after the sale that he would have happily rejected the bid if Jordan wanted to stay, he also admitted that he turned down substantial money for Rhodes in January, saying to Rhodes “stay and get us promoted then you can go”. Which to be fair to Rhodes, he did. The pundits came out in force again, claiming Huddersfield would struggle, but so far the signs are good. In have come James Vaughan and Adam Hammill, both players with Premier League experience and the almost completed on deadline day deal for Jermaine Beckford could be back on the cards if rumours are to believed.
The game against Blackpool on Monday showed that this could be a season to remember for Huddersfield fans. Not only did they win 3-1, but the players were playing with smiles on their faces; during the post match interview James Vaughan got his shorts pulled down by Gerrard and Grayson brought on a striker in the last 10 minutes instead of throwing on a defender to shore things up. Right now Huddersfield are sitting pretty in 2nd. No one expects promotion or even a playoff spot, but for once the fans are enjoying the ride this season. The only way things could get even better would be if Peterborough were practically already relegated, Clark was struggling like hell at Birmingham and Huddersfield were above Rhodes’ Blackburn. Oh wait…