Jose Mourinho’s side had enjoyed a seamless start to the new campaign, setting the pace with Manchester City at the top of the table and keeping seven clean sheets in their eight league matches. However, their defence was breached inside half an hour when Aaron Mooy coolly swept home after Tom Ince’s initial shot was saved.
Things went from bad to worse for the visitors just five minutes later when Laurent Depoitre capitalised on Victor Lindelof’s defensive error to round David de Gea and double the Terriers’ lead.
United dominated possession as they looked for a way back into the match but they failed to carve out many meaningful chances, even with Marcus Rashford and Henrikh Mkhitaryan both brought on from the bench.
It was the 19-year-old that offered a glimmer of hope late on, nodding in from Romelu Lukaku’s pinpoint cross, but it wasn’t enough to deny Huddersfield their first win over United for 65 years.
Huddersfield learn from mistakes against Tottenham
It was only three weeks ago when Huddersfield Town were blown away at home by a ruthless display from Tottenham, and it is fair to say on that occasion they came out with the wrong attitude.
They tried to take the game to their opponents too early, leaving gaps at the back that were easily exploited, and they left themselves far too much to do early on to salvage anything from the match.
Nonetheless, manager David Wagner had clearly learnt from his mistakes of that afternoon and, against an equally imposing Manchester United test, his side performed with a much better balance and they got their just rewards for a more measured approach, ensuring they made their opportunities count.
They were never likely to dominate possession against United but their evident tenacity in both attack and in defence, allied with some woeful defending from the visitors, got their noses in front.
The Terriers then showed an awful amount of character to make sure that they didn’t let this lead slip out of their grasp – particularly after Rashford had pulled one back – and it was a valiant rear-guard effort from the hosts, who defended narrowly all game to keep the impact of United’s attacking outlets to a minimum.
It says it all that Huddersfield’s centre-back pairing of Christopher Schindler and Mathias Jorgensen made 28 clearances between them on Saturday – more than six of the 12 Premier League sides in action – and it summarises just how much they battled for what was an ultimately deserved three points.
Manchester United’s injury woes continue as defence falters
In a week that saw Jose Mourinho hit the headlines with his comments about United’s ongoing injury problems, he will be left ruing his luck once again following yet another casualty on Saturday afternoon.
The visitors could have become the first top-flight team to ever keep eight clean sheets in their opening nine Premier League matches of the season but, when Phil Jones was forced off after just 23 minutes after a tackle with Mooy, things began to fall apart defensively.
It was Victor Lindelof – the £31 million arrival from Benfica – who was trusted with duties at the back but he struggled from the start, looking nervy every time the ball came his way, and it was little surprise that he cost his side a second goal when he misjudged the flight of an innocuous Jonas Lossl goal-kick.
If anything, it showed just how important that Jones has become to Mourinho’s back-line, with the hosts immediately capitalising on the huge void left by the England international’s absence from defence.
Whilst Mourinho didn’t want to single anyone out in his post-match interview – and rightly so, as Juan Mata’s error also led to a home goal – Lindelof’s contribution rather encapsulated United’s afternoon.
The 23-year-old had been kept out of Premier League action by Mourinho for a reason so far this season, only being awarded a first taste of top-flight football in the dying moments against Liverpool last week, and based on his display at Huddersfield it is clear to see he is correct and that Lindelof isn’t ready yet.
Potentially season-defining fortnight awaits Jose Mourinho’s side
With a tough double-header coming up against Tottenham and Chelsea before the international break is upon us once again, Manchester United could have really done with a victory against Huddersfield.
Manchester City are rampant at the top and, considering they face kinder fixtures against West Brom and Arsenal next in the league, there is a real possibility they can carve out a big lead over November.
However, what will have Mourinho most concerned is not the result on Saturday, but the tepid manner in which they fell to defeat at a newly-promoted outfit, who hadn’t won in their previous six league outings, and the fact they only managed three shots on target all match starts to bring back last year’s woes.
Credit where credit is due, Huddersfield were magnificently resilient.
However, for a team that have aspirations of the title there was a lack of character; think back to the Sir Alex Ferguson era and these are the sort of games where United would have fought back and ground out a late result – Aston Villa in 2012 springs to mind – but they seemed devoid of ideas against the Terriers.
After two disappointing outings in the Premier League, United need to get back on track quickly, and there’s arguably no better way to do that than set the record straight against two title challengers.
Ramadan Sobhi still has everything to prove after joining Huddersfield Town
The youngster made the move to the John Smith’s Stadium last week.
The 21-year-old is considered to be one of the most exciting young prospects to emerge from African football over the last decade and he is the pin-up boy of Egyptian football alongside Liverpool star Mohamed Salah.
However, Huddersfield have certainly not purchased the finished article and Sobhi has ultimately failed to live up to his reputation since arriving in the Premier League two years ago.
He signed for Stoke in the summer of 2016 from leading Egyptian side Al Ahly, then managed by former Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham manager Martin Jol, for a fee that was reportedly set to rise up to £5 million.
Sobhi had made his debut as a 16-year-old and had won two domestic titles, attracting the attention of a number of prominent clubs throughout Europe, and his arrival at the Bet365 Stadium was perceived as being something of a coup.
He was characterised as being a pacey winger who was intelligent, tricky and technically immaculate and it was assumed that his arrival would bring creativity and pace to Mark Hughes’ Stoke team.
But, despite making 41 Premier League appearances in his two years with The Potters, Sobhi never truly fulfilled his potential or lived up to his reputation.
There were glimpses of his talent and potential, but these moments of brilliance or innovation were often few and far between. He was frustrating to watch and his decision making, particularly in the final third of teh pitch, would leave supporters scratching their heads in confusion.
Sobhi would often beat a defender or create half a yard of space but then be unwilling to release the ball either via a pass, cross or shot. He would attempt to beat the same defender multiple times before delivering the ball into the box and there was a distinct lack of any end product or consistency.
Few would criticise the 21-year-old’s work ethic or attitude, but he is certainly a long way from being the finished article.
It could be argued that this is not entirely the fault of the player. In truth Sobhi was never truly given a run of starts in the first team with the vast majority of his appearances coming from the bench.
Furthermore, two years of playing in a poor Stoke team has visibly eroded his confidence and self-belief whilst Mark Hughes and his coaching staff undoubtedly failed to maximise his potential.
The young Egyptian joined a Stoke team that was in terminal decline – it may simply be the case that he was the right player at the wrong time.
What Sobhi needs now is a manager who will put an arm around his shoulder and who will invest the time to nurture and mould him into fulfilling his potential. The potential is there, it just needs to be allowed to flourish.
David Wagner may well be that man.
The German is widely respected as being one of the most talented young coaches in Europe and is renowned for his approach to man-management and being able to maximise the performances of his players. If Sobhi is to emerge as a genuine star in English football then Wagner will be the man capable of facilitating it.
Ultimately, Sobhi had a limited impact at Stoke and never really demonstrated his talent beyond a handful of infrequent flashes. It is probably the fault of all parties involved that his time at the Bet365 Stadium was not more productive and it would appear that his departure is mutually beneficial.
It is also important to recognise that the winger is still only 21 years of age.
His career is only just beginning and yet he has already made 26 international appearances for Egypt and proven himself in domestic football. There is still plenty of time for him to develop and improve whilst you would imagine that the best is yet to come from the youngster.
However, despite the continued hype, ultimately Sobhi still has everything to prove in English football and Hudderfield supporters will be hoping that their club is the right place for the Egyptian’s talent to flourish.
Newcastle United toxicity means Rafa Benitez should move to West Ham
The Spaniard is being linked with a move to London.
Although Benitez has worked wonders at St. James’ Park and enjoys life in the Northeast, he should make the switch to east London to finally enjoy the transfer budget he deserves.
There can be no questioning the Spaniard’s tremendous accomplishments at Newcastle. Benitez was appointed too late to save the club from relegation in 2015/16, yet achieved promotion at the first time of asking in 2016/17.
Even more impressive, the ex-Liverpool boss steered the Magpies to a tenth-placed finish this season.
The team was largely the same squad that won the Championship the previous year, and it is a testament to Benitez’s skills as a manager that he led Newcastle to the top half of the table despite minimal investment.
In particular, the manager craved a top-class goalscoring striker, yet was never given the funds to pursue a centre-forward that could effectively lead the line for the Magpies.
But it is simply unacceptable that a manager of Benitez’s quality is denied access to substantial transfer funds to strengthen his squad. In December, the Spaniard publicly aired his frustration at the uncertainty surrounding his transfer budget, due to the frugal nature of owner Mike Ashley.
There had been hopes that a takeover would occur at Newcastle, but recent reports claim that the move is off after Ashley increased his valuation of the club.
Unfortunately for Benitez, this seems to signal another offseason of limited funds and missed transfer targets. Ultimately, conditions such as these are unacceptable for a manager who has brought so much success to Newcastle.
A move to the London Stadium would allow Benitez to truly shape his squad with a generous transfer budget, a luxury that the Spaniard must be craving after several barren years under Mike Ashley.
Rafa Benitez would do well to leave behind the toxic reign of Ashley and move to West Ham, where he would be appreciated and rewarded by a supportive ownership.
David Wagner wouldn’t be a good appointment for Leicester City
Leicester look likely to replace their current manager before the 2018/19 season.
The upcoming summer will be interesting to follow in England, as the Premier League has chosen to close the transfer window before the season starts.
With that in mind, it is important for clubs to get their business done early and there will be no room for hesitancy in the market.
Leicester City have had a trouble-free campaign, but they have lost four of their last five games and failed to score in their last three.
Claude Puel made an impact after taking over, but he may not be given the chance to lead the club into the 2018/19 season.
Last season, the Frenchman led Southampton to a top-half finish, but he was relieved of his duties due to a concern over the playing style.
A similar fate could be waiting for him once the season ends next weekend.
A couple of weeks ago, the Guardian reported that Puel was fighting to keep his job and the performances since wouldn’t have done him any favours.
It doesn’t bode well for Puel that potential replacements are being touted in the media. The Daily Mail reported over the weekend that Leicester want David Wagner as their next manager.
The Huddersfield Town manager has done well in English football since taking over at the John Smith’s Stadium. He managed to get them promoted against the odds and is now in a good position to stay up in the top-flight.
Considering his increasing profile in the game, Wagner would be regarded as an exciting appointment by Leicester supporters. If he had been able to get Huddersfield to punch above their weight as a club, he could be the right man to take the Foxes forward and challenge for European football.
However, these reports need to be treated with caution as there are reasons why an appointment would be a bad move by Leicester.
One of the reasons why Puel has been unpopular with both Southampton and Foxes’ fans has been his style of football. It can be laboured at times and the creativity is lacking in the final third. Although his teams are mostly solid, they aren’t going to get you off your feet very often.
His Huddersfield team have scored only 27 Premier League goals, which is the joint-fewest of any club in the division.
Their goal difference is the second-worst after Stoke City. The size of the club has meant that a relegation fight was inevitable, but Wagner has hardly set the league alight with his coaching.
There has been a lot written about Wagner’s connection with Jurgen Klopp, but his style of play differs from that of his good friend.
The Terriers have averaged 9.4 shots per game, which is the third worst of any team in the division. He likes his teams to play a passing brand of football, but their pass success rate of 74.3% ranks in the bottom six. At times, the Terriers would have benefitted from a more functional style.
This season has been a year of learning for Wagner. If he manages to keep Huddersfield in the top-flight, it will be considered a great campaign for him.
However, it has been clear that he isn’t the finished article yet and there is nothing to suggest that he would be an upgrade on Puel.
Leicester may decide to make a managerial change, but if they do, the current Terriers’ boss isn’t the right appointment for them.