Huddersfield Town narrowly avoided the drop last season but can David Wagner pull it off again?
Last season: 16th
Title odds: 1500/1
Relegation odds: 11/10
Major outs: Tom Ince
Key player: Jonas Lossl
In a recent interview with German newspaper Bild, David Wagner was asked whether his aim for the season was anything other than survival. “No chance!” came the response. The Huddersfield manager is under no illusions about the challenge ahead.
The Terriers finished just four points above the drop zone last season, only confirming their survival in their penultimate game, but Wagner knows it would be foolish to set his sights any higher. They remain the side with the smallest budget in the division. “The promoted teams Fulham and Wolves have financial means beyond our imagination,” he added.
That is not to say the summer has passed without investment, however. The Terriers forked out a club-record £17.5m fee to sign defender Terence Kongolo permanently from Monaco following his impressive loan spell last season, and they have also recruited his highly-rated former team-mate Adama Diakhaby from the same club.
Jonas Lossl and Florent Hadergjonaj have also signed permanent terms, with Ramadan Sobhi arriving from Stoke City and Erik Durm coming in from Wagner’s old side Borussia Dortmund. The squad still includes a core of players who helped them win promotion from the Championship, but the new recruits should help their cause.
Huddersfield started last season strongly, beating Crystal Palace and Newcastle in their opening games, and they will need to be even sharper this time around. Wagner’s side kick off the campaign at home to Chelsea, before a daunting trip to reigning champions Manchester City.
Paul Merson’s verdict
I think it’s a season too far for Huddersfield. I know I said that last season, and ended up dressing up as Gonzo, but if you weigh up last season, they stayed up because they had a great start. They got virtually a quarter of their points in the first six games.
I look at the Premier League like the tennis rankings, you get to the semi-final of Wimbledon and you move up the rankings. But then you’ve got to do it the next year, or you’re sliding. You look at Huddersfield, they’re not going to start how they did last year and if they don’t, they’re going to be relegated.
They bought players in last season to have a go and caught everyone cold, but found it difficult as the season went on. They were writing games off for other games, which I don’t mind, and without that momentum it’ll be difficult.
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