Following the conclusion of the Interwetten Cup, a format which saw Town play two 45 minute games against Real Betis and Werder Bremen, Talk of the Town Editor Elliott Wheat-Bowen draws eight conclusions he feels are worth considering.
1) Joel Coleman makes the case…for Ryan Schofield
As David Wagner continues to rotate his goalkeepers throughout this pre-season, in the Interwetten Cup, it was Joel Coleman’s turn.
Joel Coleman had an opportunity to show why he should be in contention with Jonas Lössl and Ben Hamer. Unfortunately for Coleman, if anything, he made a compelling case for Ryan Schofield to be promoted up the pecking order to become Town’s third keeper.
In the opening forty-five minutes against Real Betis, Joel Coleman was at fault for both of Real Betis’ goals.
After a ball was played over the top, Coleman made the decision to attempt to intercept the pass and clear the danger. However, having misjudged the flight of the ball, it gave Betis’ Loren a simpler task of lofting the ball into the empty net.
Just three minutes later, Coleman was again at fault as a combination of flawed technique and simply not reading the flight or trajectory of the ball saw Sergio Canales’ long-range strike fly past him.
In the second forty-five minutes against Werder Bremen, there was even a question mark about Coleman’s positioning for Florian Kainz well-struck free-kick which flew into the top corner to confine Town to fourth place in the Interwetten Cup.
I’m not sure how much David Wagner will read into this performance but it does leave the door ajar for Ryan Schofield to stake his claim to be the third goalkeeper option in Town’s Premier League squad.
2) Kachunga offers a different outlet in the number 10 role
In the forty-five minutes against Real Betis, Elias Kachunga, who continues to build his fitness up following an injury-stricken campaign last season, was deployed in the number 10 role behind Laurent Depoitre.
Whilst Alex Pritchard is undoubtedly the natural number 10 in Town’s squad with all the attributes needed to be a success in such a pivotal position, Kachunga does offer a different outlet as an unorthodox alternative.
Whilst Pritchard opts to work on the half-turn and in tight areas, Kachunga acts more as a secondary striker that looks to push up higher and link up with the lone striker. This allows him to make runs beyond Depoitre which poses a different question of the opposition defence.
It was an interesting experiment and one which we may see David Wagner return to during the Premier League season.
3) Sabiri’s late runs from midfield continue to pose a threat
Against Dynamo Dresden, Abdelhamid Sabiri’s mature display came as one of the biggest shocks to Town fans. Having looked talented but extremely raw during the Premier League season, many expected the Moroccan to leave Town on loan this summer.
Instead, playing in the deeper number eight role, Sabiri seems to have found a new lease of life and on the back of an impressive performance against Dynamo Dresden (once in which he should’ve deservedly got on the scoresheet), Sabiri impressed once again today.
In the forty-five minutes against Real Betis, it was Sabiri’s late runs into the penalty box from deep which posed a major threat to Betis’ back-line.
On two separate occasions, Sabiri found himself in space in the box unmarked. The first saw him turn Lewis O’Brien’s delightfully clipped cross onto the bar. The second saw him turn Florent Hadergjonaj’s low cross just past the post which he could have and should have converted.
Whilst Sabiri didn’t quite show the ice-cool composure needed to convert these chances, it did show that he was willing to put himself in goal-scoring positions even when he’s playing in a deeper holding midfield role.
If Sabiri is to feature for Town in the Premier League this season, he could prove to be a major goal threat with his positional awareness and the timing of his runs from deep being extremely difficult to counter-act.
4) Lewis O’Brien stands out as the pick of the youth bunch
Of the handful of Town starlets that have been given the opportunity to join David Wagner’s senior squad on their tour of Germany, it has been Town’s 19-year-old midfielder Lewis O’Brien that has stood out as the pick of the bunch.
O’Brien showed maturity well beyond his age to fill in at left-back against Dynamo Dresden. However, today he was given an opportunity in a more natural position.
Against Real Betis, he played as an inside forward on the right-hand side and I’ve mentioned above, it was his work on the right-hand flank which produced one of Town’s clear-cut chances for Sabiri.
In the second forty-five minutes, he was played in the number ten role and again, he impressed. Confident and reassured, he was neat and tidy, particularly in his interplay with Laurent Depoitre.
At one stage, it looked like Lewis O’Brien would be the unlikely hero but his glancing header went just wide of the post as he searched for a Town equaliser.
Despite not finding the back of the net with his effort, he certainly showed that he has the talent and application to have a very bright future at Huddersfield Town.
5) Hadergjonaj continues to grow into the midfield role
As mentioned priorly, David Wagner has been experimenting with the idea of Florent Hadergjonaj playing as an unorthodox central midfielder.
The introduction of Jordan Williams to face Werder Bremen saw this experiment continue today with Hadergjonaj sitting in a holding midfield position alongside Jonathan Hogg.
The performance after making the tactical switch was one of promise and it was a sign that the Swiss international has begun growing into the role.
Whilst it is well documented how Hadergjonaj brings energy, dynamism and tenacity to Town’s midfield with his eagerness to hustle and harry, we also saw a different side to Hadergjonaj today.
We saw a forward-thinking side to Hadergjonaj who was not afraid to take hold of possession and attempt to influence the game going forwards, with a dipping curling effort from distance being a testament to his growing confidence in the role.
6) Sobhi’s first showing in a Town shirt
Having joined up with the Town squad following his personal World Cup campaign, Ramadan Sobhi’s first showing in a Town shirt came in the Interwetten Cup.
As a substitute in the forty-five minutes against Werder Bremen, we saw the Egyptian winger take up his natural position on the left-hand flank.
Whilst he didn’t have much time to fully demonstrate what Town had purchased for £5.6 million from Stoke City, we did see some flickers of what he is capable of.
A few sharp feints to turn away from his marker and some neat interplay with both Town’s midfield and Laurent Depoitre are promising signs of what is to come.
7) Kongolo stands head and shoulders above the rest
If there were any questions about whether Terence Kongolo would be able to replicate the superb defensive performances that he consistently carried out in the second half of last season, they have quickly been dispelled.
Today, Kongolo once again played as a centre half alongside Jon-Gorenc Stankovic before shifting to left-back in the second forty-five minutes against Bremen.
Despite playing in two different positions with differing personnel, the Dutch international seemed to be two or three steps ahead of everybody else.
From his reading of the game to his one-on-one defending, very rarely did anyone get the better of him as he stood head and shoulders above the rest.
8) Another ninety minutes without a goal
Whilst the Interwetten Cup was just a pre-season means of gaining fitness and sharpening up ahead of the new season, it was another collective ninety minute showing without a goal.
However before we become too worried, it should be noted that it was not for the want of not trying.
Against Real Betis, Town’s clear-cut chances fell to Abdelhamid Sabiri who was half an inch from cannoning a side foot volley off the underside of the crossbar.
There was also some more bright moments, both against Real Betis and Werder Bremen, where there was a lack of quality and/or composure.
I do feel once David Wagner finishes re-building Town’s attack, something which could feature the likes of Adama Diakhaby and potentially Anthony Limbombe, that the goals will start coming and they will start to come at a regular rate.