Following the conclusion of Town’s fifth pre-season friendly, which Town finished all square against a hard-working S.V Darmstadt side, Talk of the Town author Elliott Wheat-Bowen draws eight conclusions that are worth considering:
1) Abdelhamid Sabiri looks closer to the finished product than Philip Billing does
If you were to ask last season who out of Abdelhamid Sabiri and Philip Billing was closer to being the finished product, unilaterally the answer would’ve been the latter.
Sabiri had shown glimpses of brilliance but his temperament and raw nature contributed to a lack of consistency which saw him fall out of favour.
This pre-season, however, we have seen Sabiri given plenty more game time albeit in a deeper role and he seems to be thriving with the additional responsibility.
Today, we saw Sabiri and Philip Billing sharing the responsibility in a midfield two. However, based on today’s performance if a direct comparison was to be had, it would be Abdelhamid Sabiri who looks closer to being the finished product.
2) Ben Hamer offers himself as a genuine alternative to Jonas Lössl
After an impressive display from Ben Hamer and a “disasterclass” from Joel Coleman in the Interwetten Cup, Ben Hamer was given the opportunity in the absence of Jonas Lössl.
Once again, Ben Hamer put in a mightily impressive display despite conceding a goal in the early stages of the second half, courtesy of some pretty lax Town defending.
The stand-out moment in the first half was his point-blank save from a Darmstadt set-piece. Even for the goal, he did well to prevent Terrence Boyd’s initial effort before it was eventually turned in by Yannick Stark.
Regardless, the signing of Ben Hamer appears to be a very shrewd one as he looks to be a genuine alternative to Jonas Lössl and someone that will push Lössl hard for a place in Town’s starting XI.
3) Town’s new signings have already bought into Wagner’s ideals
With Adama Diakhaby making his first appearance for Town and Ramadan Sobhi’s introduction in the second half, we can see that Town’s new signings have already bought into David Wagner’s ideals.
In the first half, we saw Adama Diakhaby’s tireless work-ethic to the point of self-sacrifice when it came to his defensive contribution and his willing to press from the front.
Similarly in the second half, following Ramadan Sobhi’s introduction, we saw a different side to his game as he looked to press and force the issue.
It will certainly be pleasing for David Wagner to see how both of Town’s newest recruits have slotted into the system seamlessly and share the collective ideals of this club and this tight-knit squad.
4) The new-found trust in Alex Pritchard is something to behold
When Alex Pritchard joined Huddersfield Town in January, the technical ability of Pritchard was clear to see from his very first appearance.
However, in a struggling Town side, Alex Pritchard’s influence as one of Town’s chief creators was limited. He was not afraid to express his frustration at his team-mates as he found himself between the lines on plenty of occasions but often wasn’t found or even attempted to be found.
In this pre-season, we have seen almost the complete opposite. Sharp and direct, Alex Pritchard has looked exceptionally dangerous and David Wagner will be looking to carry that into next season.
The reason for this is the new-found trust in Alex Pritchard. This has seen the diminutive playmaker receive more and more of the ball and that has seen his sphere of influence increase. It’s something not only to look out for in the coming weeks and months but also something to get excited about.
5) Mooy’s return signifies his crucial influence as Town’s fulcrum
With Aaron Mooy back in the fold following his World Cup campaign in Russia, he returned as a second-half substitute in place of Abdelhamid Sabiri for his first appearance of pre-season.
Introduced midway through the second half, almost immediately we saw the Australian playmaker take control of the game, like he has for Town so many times before.
In the deeper midfield role, he was a calming influence for Phil Billing as Mooy dictated the tempo and almost singlehandedly turned Town’s fortunes around in the second half.
What we can say for sure from his performance today is that it was one which signified his crucial influence as the fulcrum of this Town side.
6) Steve Mounié simply needs service
In a game where Town once again produced very few chances, rather than cutting a frustrated figure, Steve Mounié continued going until the end and his persistence was rewarded.
Finally, his chance came in the 80th minute and like he had on so many separate occasions last season, he took that chance when it did come for him.
After excellent work from Ramadan Sobhi down the left which released Jordan Williams in space, the eighteen-year-old full-back arched in an inviting delivery which Mounié met emphatically to fire his header past Heuer Fernandes in the Darrmstadt goal.
It was another demonstration that Steve Mounié simply needs service and he will prove to be a regular source of goals for Town once again, this season.
7) Jordan Williams gives David Wagner food for thought
Despite coming on a second-half substitute for Scott Malone and only having twenty minutes to work with, Jordan Williams stood out as one of Town’s stronger performers today.
Already this summer, we have seen Jordan Williams used by David Wagner in both full-back roles and whilst the level of opposition is nowhere near the level of that of the Premier League, Williams’ performances will have begun to give David Wagner food for thought.
Today, we saw Jordan Williams playing in the less familiar left-back role. His composure and maturity when dealing with the threat that Darmstadt continuously had shown down that flank throughout the game was an impressive feat for the young full-back.
However, where we really saw Williams thrive was when he pushed forward and linked up with Ramadan Sobhi. It was this interplay which saw Jordan Williams provide the assist for Town’s only goal of the game.
Many may have expected Jordan Williams to go out on loan like he did last season to Bury. However, if he continues to show this level of consistency, he could be in and around Town’s Premier League squad for the upcoming season.
8) A sign of improvement but work still to be done
Whilst we shouldn’t read too much into the performances and results of pre-season friendlies, after the disappointing displays on offer in the Interwetten Cup, today was definitely a sign of improvement.
We saw a more well-balanced side and one that will feature some of the crucial personnel that will need to perform next season. If Town are again to defy the impossible, they might start having thoughts about cementing their place in the Premier League as an established side.
The performances of Aaron Mooy, Christopher Schindler and Alex Pritchard amongst others and the goal of Steve Mounié should alleviate some of the concerns that some fans may have had.
However, I’m sure it goes without saying that there is still plenty of work to be done, both on the pitch and in the transfer market and David Wagner will make sure that work is done.