Town’s puddle deep squad was cruelly exposed by a Bournemouth side destined for a quick return from whence they came as Carlos Corberán’s understandable pragmatism protected against the possibility of adding to the injuries incurred over the past few weeks.
Without Schindler, Stearman, Hogg and Koroma, the chances of reward on the south coast were already slim and the opportunity to rest Eiting, Campbell and Pipa irresistible though not universally applauded.
Having navigated to a solid mid table place with two wins over mediocre opposition and the harbour of the next transfer window on the horizon, Corberán’s press conference ahead of the game signalled a strategic approach in the face of harsh realities.
Most supporters understood the dilemmas he faced, with few expecting anything other than defeat, but having set expectations so low it was hugely disappointing that the team selected fell unacceptably below them.
It wasn’t inexperience or lack of playing time which prompted Jaden Brown to fall over in search of a non existent free kick which opened Town up after 7 minutes, nor could the mess Toffolo and Sarr made of dealing with a straightforward press be put down to unfamiliarity as Solanke accepted his second gift in the space of a few minutes.
With quality all over the pitch, Bournemouth’s final tally was the only statistic in doubt and when Brooks hit a delightful third before the break, a historic trouncing was more than possible.
In between the goals, Town’s play wasn’t horrendously bad and they at least forced some saves from Begovic though only one of them, turning away a deflected Bacuna effort, was more than routine. Even in possession, however, the impression was that the hosts were allowing it in the knowledge that they could strike at will when it was lost.
In the second half, a team which resembled one assembled to take on a lower league FA cup opponent was disrupted by a string of substitutions akin to a pre-season friendly. Bournemouth didn’t exactly go for the throat while turning the victory in to a nap hand, with Stanislas’s uninterrupted saunter past several tackle candidates easily as disappointing as the two early gifts.
In and amongst the rubble of a display reminiscent of Premier League routs, there was the occasional glimpse of promise, however hard you had to squint to see them. Rowe did pretty well at right back, Edmonds-Green stood up while the seniors to his left did not and Mbenza came on in place of the injured Ward and demonstrated more professionalism and endeavour than the man he replaced in just over 20 minutes.
Dhiakaby shows no signs whatsoever of even beginning the road to rehabilitation taken by Mbenza. Any sparks he does show are fleeting and ineffectual, his body language is permanently awful and mistakes – including giving away the ball just outside the area with one baffling attempted pass – should surely see him banished from the squad and replaced by someone with a smidgeon of promise.
Bacuna’s mixture of carelessness, petulance and high levels of skill when it takes his fancy does not an effective professional footballer make. At least he had some influence as Town tried to maintain some credibility from an awful afternoon, which is, by a distance, more than you can say for Pritchard; another one for whom the end of the road cannot come quick enough.
Worryingly, Hogg’s understudy Vallejo looked unconvincing and far from ready to enter the Championship fray. He deserves patience but provided no comfort that he will be an automatic answer to future absences.
It would be harsh to judge Diarra on the youngster’s first appearance in such circumstances but he looked a little way out of his depth. The quality of the opposition and the shambolic efforts of his team mates make even a cursory appraisal of his talent impossible and redundant, however.
With few established partnerships across the pitch, and the odd one or two which could be identified failing badly, it was a seriously hard stretch to imagine Town could leave Dean Court with anything other than heavy defeat.
A decent move involving a one two between Mbenza and Toffolo was thwarted by a block and a pull back from the left back which created a shooting opportunity for Brown provided brief moments of hope for a consolation before Town were buried by their far superior hosts.
Although the match itself was one to quickly forget, the ramifications of team selection will reverberate. If we are to swallow the humiliation accompanying this defeat, evidence of the benefits of the strategy will need to be delivered if not on Wednesday then over the course of matches up to the cup game in January.
The problem with calculations such as these is the possibility that the punishment inflicted is more harmful than the future benefits assumed. It could be argued that Cardiff was also pragmatically abandoned with subsequent results consigning it to history very quickly, though the line up didn’t look anywhere near as deliberately weak.
Ironically, injuries to Hamer and the horribly ineffectual Ward rather emphasised Corberán’s fears. Taking off Hamer was likely precautionary but Ward’s already spluttering second career at Huddersfield is now facing another, possibly long, setback and Campbell’s opportunities for rest over for the same length of time restricted.
In January, it is to be hoped that business can be done which allows Corberán the luxury of never having to compromise competitiveness for the long term health of his players.
Finally, the 10th US President, John Tyler was born in 1790 and has a grandson still alive today (he had two until recently); that is the scale of timespan that Carlos should have in mind while waiting, like the rest of us, for Dhiakaby to be of any practical use to Huddersfield Town. Please, please, please stop picking him, even on the bench.