In very Huddersfield Town fashion, the first signing of the summer is not a name that was fed to us by journalists or leaked prior to his arrival. In fact, it was a name seemingly out of the blue, former Aston Villa defender Tommy Elphick.
Having left Aston Villa at the end of last season, the vastly experienced unattached 31-year-old defender was in need of a new club. Having beaten off interest from various Championship sides, Town is that new club.
Joining on a two-year deal, Elphick is the first of (hopefully) many signings. It’s expected to be another extremely busy summer transfer window.
Whilst a chronic lack of goals and impotence in front of it may have underpinned Town’s downfall from the Premier League, this summer, Jan Siewert’s task encompasses rebuilding the defence as well as addressing the issues further forward.
Almost certainly, Town are set to lose one centre half. Zanka, once a fan favourite, has all but lost that affection with a series of ill-advised interviews leaving a bitter taste in many Town fans’ mouths, including ours.
Beyond that, both Christopher Schindler and Terence Kongolo have (coming as a surprise to nobody) attracted attention from elsewhere which would naturally suggest that Town are very much in the market for a centre half.
The signing of Tommy Elphick on a free transfer is an intriguing one. Looking at his track record, particularly in the Championship, it seems a ‘no brainer’.
However, looking at his injury record, which has cruelly disrupted his career on a regular basis, it looks like more of a gamble, albeit a low-risk, low-cost one.
Even with understandable concerns about his injury record, Elphick was one of the more impressive performers for Hull City who, despite off the field difficulties, managed to consolidate their status in the Championship.
At the very least, Elphick offers increasing competition for places in those central defender positions, which was somewhat one of weakness last season.
The advantages of signing someone like Tommy Elphick far transcends the solitary barometer of the impact that he may have on the pitch.
The 31-year-old brings a vast wealth of experience, both in the Championship and gaining promotion from it.
In a relatively young side with a number of players as well as a manager who has yet to have experienced the hardship of the Championship, Elphick immediately has an invaluable input.
Beyond his experience, having captained Aston Villa and Bournemouth, Elphick is clearly a strong character in the dressing room and one with serious leadership qualities.
Last season, throughout the side, there was a distinct lack of leadership and whilst a lack of quality contributed largely to Town’s undoing, issues around attitude and application were also clear to see.
Many factors have been attributed to Town’s sharp downward spiral, an argument could be made one of which was the departure of Michael Hefele.
Whilst Hefele wasn’t offering an impact on the pitch, he did offer a strong leadership presence, contributing as a positive dressing room influence towards Town’s miraculous success.
The arrival of Tommy Elphick may be the closest thing we’ve had to a positive changing room influence since the flamboyant German’s departure.
Elphick may not share the quirks and exuberance of Hefele but he does share a similar attitude on the field, a willingness to run through walls for the side and wear his heart on his sleeve which I’m sure will see him also quickly become a fan favourite.
Whilst we as fans often judge a signing’s success on their impact and influence on the pitch, on this occasion, a positive impact on the pitch would be an added bonus to what Elphick offers off it.
Jan Siewert is in a position where he must look to rectify the issues that underpinned Town’s downfall last season. To do so, he may look to impose his own set of norms and values that he wants his squad to adhere to.
The arrival of a strong leader, an experienced professional and an exemplary role model in the form of Tommy Elphick could go a long way to implementing exactly that.