Following the valiant 2-1 defeat to Manchester City yesterday, most rational punters applauded Town’s effort, our game-plan and rued our misfortune in how we conceded the second goal. However, there were other pundits who claimed that we had played ‘anti-football’.
The term ‘anti-football’ is usually ascribed to teams managed by Tony Pulis in the Premier League or Burton Albion in the Championship for instance.
This is done by teams who employ blatant time-wasting tactics from the first whistle, try to cheat the referee through dives, feigning injuries, trying to injure opposition players themselves or through a kick-and-rush brand of football.
Which is why to my simultaneous shock but not surprise, we had pundits like Tim Sherwood make comments like this: “Huddersfield played anti-football. I’m not knocking it, but that’s what they did. They didn’t want to try and win the game”.
This comment is so ludicrous it needs unpacking at length. First of all, it is complete nonsense that we employed tactics that could be described as ‘anti-football’.
We learned the hard way against Spurs at home that if we play our own natural game, ‘top 6’ sides will pick us off at will and punish us with ruthless efficiency. Wagner took this game as a steep learning curve and now employs a different formation and tactical game-plan.
In this case, against Man City, his use of three ‘no 6’ central midfielders in Aaron Mooy, Danny Williams and Jonathan Hogg gave our defence sufficient defensive cover whilst also stopping us from being over-run in the centre of the park.
By soaking up Man City pressure and then launching quick counter-attacks of our own through wingers Tom Ince and Rajiv van la Parra with the support of Laurent Depoitre, we created an attacking platform through which we could create chances and score.
It was this kind of exact counter-attack which led to the corner which produced our opening goal. This game-plan is a clear attempt to win the game.
Secondly, I am getting more and more frustrated with the paradox that currently engulfs mainstream pundits when discussing my club.
If we play our own game and lose, we are called ‘naïve’, ‘careless’ or other superlatives which label us as a plucky team that doesn’t know how to win football matches in the Premier League.
However, when we recognise the strengths of our opponent and craft tailored game-plans to match them and even beat them, we are derided as a team who are trying to ruin the game.
Well, which one is it then?
Pundits need to make up their mind or at the very least, do some actual research before commenting about us. The only time we seem to cross into their line of vision or reality is when we play a ‘top 6’ team.
Robbie Savage didn’t know who Aaron Mooy was a year ago when asked about him on BBC 606; Kevin Kilbane is often wheeled out as the token in-the-know Huddersfield pundit because he played one season for us but in reality he belittles our chances of staying in the Premier League and never provides evidence to back that up.
Gary Lineker, despite interviewing David Wagner himself couldn’t even remember our name a few weeks ago. We are increasingly looking like the invisible club. When we get thumped, people are jumping the gun to say we are doomed and then when we win, there isn’t as much as cursory mention.
Comments like Sherwood’s typify the ineptitude and vacuous incompetence that befalls the majority of Premier League pundits.
For their sake, they must really hope we don’t pull off another big scalp like Man United, otherwise they really won’t know what to say.