The next few weeks and months are vitally important to Huddersfield Town.
Firstly, supporters will want to see the players show pride and purpose in the blue and white stripes to ensure Championship survival with better performances and results in the closing five matches – all of which are tough.
Then they will want to see manager Mark Robins and the board bring in three or four new faces who can galvanise the talent already on the books at the John Smith’s Stadium club.
Robins says he is clear on what he can do with the squad, and his first assignment – after the priority of making sure Town don’t get sucked even nearer the relegation zone – is to decide who will be retained.
Players out of contract include Danny Ward, club captain Peter Clarke, Keith Southern, goalkeeper Ian Bennett, Calum Woods, Cristian Lopez, Matt Crooks and young striker Harry Bunn, who went on as a substitute in the 2-0 home defeat by Ipswich.
While leading scorer James Vaughan will hopefully be back from knee surgery and fit for involvement over a longer period than this term, it could still be that Town need to strengthen in every department right down the spine of the side.
Any new arrivals have to be spot on for the possession-based game Town are determined to play, especially as the budget is far from unlimited as Town continue to work within the boundaries presented by Financial Fair Play.
Only in January, of course, chairman Dean Hoyle shelled out a record £1.3m to bring in striker Nahki Wells from Bradford City and he is one of the keys to the five-year plan laid down to take the club forward.
No-one wants to see Town lumping the ball forward, but Town have to provide Wells with better support in the final third, whatever the formation, and that’s a must for next season and beyond – because the Bermudian is a special goalscoring talent.
Town also have to play at an increased tempo for longer in matches than they are at the moment.
While the possession is often good, the biggest gripe from supporters is that the build-up is too slow and therefore Town aren’t able to hurt the opposition enough.
In the second half of the season, Town have picked up only 15 points from 54 and that’s nowhere near good enough. On top of that, they have won only three matches at home in 2014, so supporters have had precious little to cheer.
While the buck finishes with Robins as the man who picks the team, the onus is on the players to produce more than they are – and they are capable of much better.
Town have title-winning Under 18 and Under 21 teams and will look to promote from within, and on the signings front the manager admits he’s looking for potential to develop, so that Town can be a self-sustaining club to a large extent.
It’s a noble philosophy as well as a financial necessity given crowds around the 12,000 mark, and it will take patience from everyone concerned with the club to bring it to fruition.
Town are only two seasons back in the Championship and have still to establish themselves at this level, and that’s why this summer’s departures and arrivals have to be exactly right.
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