As the full time whistle blew at Selhurst Park, with Crystal Palace winning 1-0 and results elsewhere going against them, Huddersfield Town knew that nothing but an injury time Brighton goal against Southampton would save them. It didn’t come, and they became the first side relegated from the Premier League this season.
In truth, the result was already known weeks ago. It was a matter of when, not if, Huddersfield went down.
In the end, Jan Siewert’s men went down after 32 games, equalling an unwanted record with Derby County as the earliest gameweek a side has been relegated from the Premier League.
But, where did it all go wrong for Huddersfield?
If you watched them against Crystal Palace, while they lacked an end product, they were clean and precise with their passing. There was an intensity from their players too, fighting for every loose ball and creating chances.
That’s been the story of the Terriers all season, too. Especially since the arrival of Siewert. They don’t play negative or bad football, yet results simply haven’t gone their way on the pitch – and there has to be a reason for that to so consistently be the case.
And there is.
One glaring issue that has blighted Huddersfield all season. Goals. Or more appropriately, a lack thereof. As one news organisation aptly described them during the match, Huddersfield are “neat, tidy and with the cutting edge of a spoon”.
They survived by the skin of their teeth last season, but this time round it just proved too much. Those in blue and white stripes simply couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net enough times, and it proved the fatal blow.
Even with the January arrival of Karlan Grant, who managed to retain the prolific nature he had displayed at Charlton in League One despite the step up to the top flight. Yet, even with the 21-year-old netting three goals in his first six Premier League games, it couldn’t single-handedly provide results.
They needed goals from across the team, as well as a bit of fortune to fall their way, which it simply didn’t. In recent games, when tides looked just like they might be turning, late goals and bad mistakes ultimately cost them and snatched vital points away from their grasp.
Huddersfield just ended up finding themselves out of their depth this season, and couldn’t be kept afloat by Siewert.
Now, the club must look to the future and attempt the difficult task of bouncing straight back in what is an ever more competitive and challenging Championship.
And even that plan looks to have cracks appearing in it. When Siewert was brought to The John Smith’s Stadium on a two-and-a-half year deal, the former Borussia Dortmund coach wasn’t entirely there just to perform miracles.
There was an element of planning for the future in the appointment of the 36-year-old manager. Should Huddersfield have gone down, as they now have done, there was a hope that the young manager could help rebuild and drive that bounce back.
Yet, reports are now emerging that Siewert could be facing an exit from Huddersfield just a few months into his time there. His hard line approach, and apparent decision to drop regular starters with little explanation, has led to a number of complaints above the manager’s head, and may well force the Terriers board into re-evaluating their future plans with Siewert.
The German hardly has the record to back him up, either, having lost eight of his first nine games at the helm. Those results on paper don’t show the marked improvement Huddersfield had in their style of play, but at the end of the day football is a results business.
Goals were what cost Huddersfield their Premier League place, and now a rift behind the scenes may hamper any pre-existing plans to rebuild and bounce back.
It could well be a tough few months for Huddersfield, and may not be a much more enjoyable season next time out in the Championship, either.