Saturday, May 15, 2010

NO ONE LIKES THEM........... WELL I DO .......... JUST NOT TODAY !

Division 1 Playoff : Huddersfield Town - Millwall

I like these two teams, in any other season, at least one of them would have gone up automatically, but this was the strongest third tier in history and they both have to look to do it the hard way. I also have to admit to having a soft spot for Millwall, with a very good friend who passed away some years ago (RIP Frank), having been a massive fan and who once took great amusement in "outing" me as a Brentford supporter in the main home stand at the Old Den .... happy days !!!!

Few would dispute that both are happier on home soil, with only champions Norwich having a stronger record at their own stadium. Huddersfield are 14-8-1 here, scoring a league high 52 goals, which includes a 1-0 win in the league meeting between these clubs last month, Millwall are a daunting 17-5-1 at the New Den and given that and the intimidating atmosphere there, Town will not want to travel south without a lead of some sort.

Home boss Lee Clark has a big backroom staff at his disposal, including a couple who just work on the mental side of the game, today is exactly what they have been employed for , to get Town in the right frame of mind, calm, concentrated and focused ahead of this huge encounter . Number one amongst these is Steve Black, who is one of the top motivational speakers in the UK and who worked for a long time with the national Rugby team, especially as Jonny Wilkinson's mentor, his game was all about preparation and followers of that sport, will already appreciate Black's attention to detail. He carries huge respect in that sphere and has also worked with Newcastle, Sunderland and Fulham, who were all promoted to the top flight during his time working with them.

This backroom staff extends to some twenty people about six of whom you would know by name, including Terry McDermott, Derek Fazackerley and Andy Cole, these "staff" have around 4,500 league games between them an incredible amount of experience. I have to say that amongst these is fomer Bee Paul Stephenson who was a very tricky "old style" winger and a former favourite of mine ( actually, he hasn't changed much in the last 20 years ... see photo). This is an enormous investment and the club will have to see a return either this year or next. Few clubs outside the EPL would even consider spending this type of money off the pitch, but this is exactly the kind of day it should produce dividends.

I am sure that Clark has a big coaching future in the game, it takes a man confident in his own abilities to build and head such a strong team this early in his career, but he is very close to getting things right at the Galpharm and they are the sort of team who will flourish if they can just get out of this division. They can go a long way towards that with a win this afternoon.

Huddersfield -0.25 2.13 asian line.

Good Luck.

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