Why Huddersfield are no better off for dismissing Jan Siewert

Gabriel Sutton by Gabriel Sutton / 19 August 2019, 14:27

Huddersfield Town have sacked Jan Siewert as manager just three games into their league campaign, following a 2-1 home loss to Fulham.

Most Terriers fans are supportive of chairman Phil Hodgkinson’s decision – and we respect their views as regulars.

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We can make allowances for the fact that Hodgkinson replaced Dean Hoyle – the man who gave Siewert a three-year contract in January – this summer and the new chairman might hold a slightly different opinion of the 36-year-old.

Plus, if the change turns out to be the right decision – then it will prove better to have made it earlier rather than later.

However, we feel that the club’s decision does not change their prospects for the 2019/20 campaign – here’s why.

Nature of performances

In Huddersfield’s opening day 2-1 loss at home to Derby, they tried to instigate quick transitions between the front three of Adama Diakhaby, Karlan Grant and Alex Pritchard and ended up having more shots than their visitors, but were let down by a lack of composure in certain areas.

In the 2-1 defeat to Fulham, they were arguably the better side in the first half with Lewis O’Brien making a lot of forward runs to support the front three – in which Elias Kachunga started ahead of Diakhaby on the right – and would have gone ahead with better finishing.

Against both those sides, Huddersfield conceded the opener via an individual error.

Tommy Elphick’s miscued shoulder-ball led to Lawrence’s strike for the Rams, then Juninho Bacuna’s freak sliced clearance allowed Mitrovic to head home for the Whites.

The other goals their visitors scored, meanwhile, came from wonder-strikes from Lawrence and Cavaleiro respectively.

We can discuss formations and tactics, but when opposing players produce moments of brilliance, or when defenders gift-wrap chances to the opposition, there is little a manager can truly affect.

Substitutions

One of the criticisms of Siewert is that he is too passive – he does not respond quickly enough to developments on the field and does not change games that are not going his way.

Against Fulham, many say he should have made his substitutions sooner.

Firstly, it’s rare for a manager to make an unforced change before the hour mark – Siewert replaced Bacuna with Nathaniel Chalobah on 54 minutes.

Secondly, one must ask what did Chalobah do? What did Rajiv Van La Parra or Steve Mounie do? Not very much.

Is this issue just about Siewert not being responsive enough, or could it also be about him not having the personnel to change games?

The squad

There are question marks over the level of investment at Huddersfield and that means the group of players is currently limited.

For example, Terence Kongolo looks uncomfortable with the attacking responsibilities at left-back – many fans want him to partner Christopher Schindler at centre-back.

If Kongolo moved, though, who plays at left-back? Herbert Bockhorn could at a push, but he’s right-footed – beyond that, Siewert’s options were very limited and the transfer window has now closed.

Goalkeeper Kamil Grabara is unproven in the senior game, Florent Hadergjonaj produced a decent cross on Friday and is an honest right-back, but he is often very limited technically and in terms of awareness.

READ: Who will replace Jan Siewert at Huddersfield?

Elphick was brought in as a leader to complement the more subdued Christopher Schindler, but his last good stint as a player was arguably the Championship title-winning campaign at Bournemouth five years ago.

Jonathan Hogg has legendary status but he is not as mobile as he was three years ago and therefore cannot influence games in the same way he used to.

The one refined technician was Aaron Mooy, who was loaned out to Brighton.

A front-three of Diakhaby, Grant and Pritchard is potentially the best part of this squad – and even they were part of one of the lowest-scoring top flight attacks ever.

To create space for them, Huddersfield need quality from midfield and full-backs – in both of those areas, they and Siewert were hamstrung by limited options.

Mark Hudson is the current 9/4 favourite with PaddyPower to get the permanent job, but it seems doubtful that the Under-23s boss could change results beyond the next few games.

Head of Football Operations appointment late

Siewert never got to work with a Head of Football Operations.

Having been primarily a coach in his career so far at VfL Bochum U19s and Dortmund II, Siewert wants to be on the field.

However, Olaf Rebbe followed David Wagner out of the exit door, then the new HFO David Webb has only been appointed this week, so the club has not had a football brain making phone calls, doing negotiations and acting as a go-between the manager and the board during Siewert’s time in charge.

When we consider how much Daniel Farke at Norwich benefited from Webber’s influence, one wonders if Siewert has missed out.

Yes, he was not perfect – and one or two comments during his reign could have been worded better, but in many ways his frustrations highlight wider problems.

Those who think his exit signals the start of a new dawn for Huddersfield may have another thing coming.

Managers Departed

Last man down

Michael Jolley
Michael Jolley
(Grimsby Town)
15th November
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