Huddersfield opt for three wise men
It happens every summer. One team always seems to pick up a handful of players that could easily have been targets for clubs in the division above. This summer, so far, it is Huddersfield Town.
We are all accustomed to the quote: “I had plenty of other offers, but once I spoke to the gaffer here my mind was made up”. Most official websites have it saved to the clipboard ready for a rapid copy-and-paste when a new signing is made.
Supporters of Huddersfield, much like any other team, have probably had to put up with reading something along those lines after a succession of arrivals. It is a small price to pay, though, when those arrivals are as impressive as the Terriers’ latest trio.
Jamie McCombe arrives from Bristol City to play alongside Peter Clarke in a centre-back partnership that manager Lee Clark will rightly expect to be among the most formidable in the division. McCombe has been a regular starter for the Ashton Gate side in the Championship and his signing is a real coup for Huddersfield.
Another fine acquisition is former Scotland international Gary Naysmith, who turned down the chance to stay at Sheffield United in order to move to the Galpharm. At the age of 31, Naysmith will have to prove he still has the pace to deal with wingers even at League One level but his experience could prove crucial should Huddersfield return to the play-offs.
Last but not least, Derby County midfielder Lee Croft has signed a six-month loan deal with Clark’s side. Following initial promise at Manchester City, Croft’s career has been in steady decline due to inconsistent form but the prospect of revitalising the former Norwich man proved too appealing to the Huddersfield management.
Clark was assistant at Norwich under Glenn Roeder when Croft produced some of the best displays of his career, but his own current right-hand man could play a part in getting the best out of their new recruit. Terry McDermott sits alongside Clark in the Huddersfield dugout, a wide midfielder of renown in the great Liverpool side of the 1970s and also assistant to Kevin Keegan at Newcastle when the pair encouraged magical wing play from David Ginola and Keith Gillespie.
Huddersfield will also be relying on the hunger of their young centre-forwards Lee Novak and Jordan Rhodes, who both enjoyed good seasons in front of goal before failing to demonstrate their talent when it counted in a tense play-off semi-final against Millwall. With Croft and the creative Gary Roberts supplying the bullets, the Terriers will hope to continue their goalscoring exploits from last season having struck 82 times, the third-highest total in League One.
In addition, McCombe will add the defensive solidity Huddersfield need to avoid the kind of demoralising defeat they suffered in March when shipping five goals without reply at Southampton. The smart money is on Clark’s men to match their top six finish and more signings in this vein will make them hot favourites to go one better this time around.