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A Summer of Significance and Opportunity


The club’s return to the Championship has all but earmarked the end of the Hoyle Era.

Such is the whirlwind nature of football, there is little time to take stock and reflect on Town’s meteoric rise to the Premier League, nor their earth-shattering fall back to reality.

Instead, we now find ourselves in the midst of one of our most important summers in recent memory.

A summer I describe as one of significance and opportunity.

The departure of David Wagner in January 2019, followed by Dean Hoyle and the likely dismantlement of vast swathes of that infamous promotion-winning squad, leaves us this summer heading into uncharted territory.

Whilst the Championship is a familiar stomping ground for us, with a new owner and a head coach still getting to grips with English football, the step down from the Premier League to the Championship during a period of tumultuous transition seems as much of a chasm as when the roles were reversed.

This all takes place during the process to identify Town’s next Head of Football Operations, a position which hasn’t been filled since Olaf Rebbe’s subdued departure at the beginning of the year.

As a result of this amalgamation of factors, it could prove to be a defining summer.

The reason why this summer is of such great significance is that the decisions made now and over the comings weeks and months prior to the start of the season are likely to have consequences and implications, for better or for worse.

Consequences and implications which could transcend beyond this season and have an impact on the club’s immediate and mid to long-term trajectory.

For Phil Hodgkinson, this summer is the first real opportunity for him to make a good impression.

With Dean Hoyle et al. laying excellent foundations to be built upon, Hodgkinson now has the chance add to the legacy of what has gone before him, which anomalously, have been some of Town’s finest years in recent memory.

It will be the first opportunity for fans to see how he will look to run the club and what direction he wants to take the club in, both on and off the pitch.

Already, we have seen that Hodgkinson is not a man who rests on his laurels. This can be seen with the arrival of Tommy Elphick, Josh Koroma and Reece Brown, with a further two arrivals expected this week.

So far, the early signs are promising. There has been an acknowledgement that mistakes were made and there have been attempts to right the wrongs of last summer.

Last season, the club lost its way, not only on the pitch but also off of it. The transfer strategy was convoluted and there was too much of a departure from the recruitment strategies that had previously been successful.

So far, with shrewd recruitment and the expected arrival of Premier League loanees to bolster the quality of the squad, it furthers suggests that Hodgkinson has learnt the lessons from Town’s promotion-winning season i.e. get business done early and allow the squad the best chance to gel and assimilate to their new environment.

Similarly, despite arriving in the midst of the January transfer window, this summer will be Jan Siewert’s first full transfer window and pre-season, which in and of itself is an enormous opportunity.

We’re more than likely to see Jan Siewert look to use these coming weeks, both in the transfer window and pre-season, as a means of assessing his squad and conducting major surgery to make the changes that he feels are necessary. This is likely to mean a drastic departure from the squad built by David Wagner over the past three years.

Parallels can be drawn between this summer and the summer prior to Town’s shock promotion to the Premier League.

That summer saw a bloated squad devoid of confidence struggle to come to terms with the vision of a young ambitious progressive manager.

It too underwent major reconstructive surgery, with perceived deadwood departing and fresh faces brought in who importantly both bought into the club’s ideals but also the manager’s philosophy.

This summer, Jan Siewert has an opportunity to do the same. With the backing of Phil Hodgkinson, Siewert has the means to bring in his own players and to build a squad capable of carrying out the fast, fluid attacking football philosophy that was promised when he was brought to this football club.

To do so, as important as the transfer window will be, a full pre-season will be equally important for Siewert. He will have the chance to work with a squad that he can call his own and begin to implement his philosophy with a group of players that are more well-suited to carry it out.

This summer, therefore, is an opportunity for both Phil Hodgkinson and Jan Siewert, in differing ways, to make their mark. They have a chance to step out of the shadows of their predecessors and into the somewhat daunting shimmering limelight of expectation and scrutiny.