And now the end is nearing. Huddersfield Town should soon be put out of their misery. They are 16 points from safety and relegation could be ratified in early April.
It had looked an inevitability long before a 15th defeat in 17 games came in particularly damning fashion. “I can’t defend that performance today,” said manager Jan Siewert. “It’s unacceptable. I feel sorry for our fans.”
This, on paper, was about Huddersfield’s most winnable game in the Premier League now. Bournemouth had not taken a point on their travels for four months. They left Huddersfield with three.
Bournemouth had conceded at least two goals in each of their previous nine away league games. Huddersfield mustered a solitary shot on target, an early Aaron Mooy free kick that Artur Boruc punched away.
They have still not scored twice in a home match since Bournemouth’s previous visit, 13 months ago. A team averaging a goal every other game are on course to set an unwanted record as the top flight’s lowest scorers.
In a meeting of resistible object and moveable force, they were too blunt. Remarkably, they are still yet to win on a Saturday this season. The usually upbeat architect of a surprise rise, David Wagner, departed demoralised and downbeat.
His replacement, Siewert, oversaw the win over Wolves to top Derby’s historic low of 11 points but sounded angry after an incoherent display. “It’s not my football at all,” Siewert said.
The gulf in ability and resources has been apparent before, but if Huddersfield are often outclassed, they are rarely outworked. They were on Saturday.
“I knew it was difficult but I am brave and a fighter and I will still fight, with the right attitude,” said Siewert. His message to his players was: “Show my attitude on the pitch. Fight for each single employee here.”
The gifted Philip Billing, hooked at half-time, presumably failed to do that. Bournemouth did. “A really good performance,” said manager Eddie Howe. His side had failed to register a shot of any variety against Manchester City.
Callum Wilson’s return to fitness proved an effective remedy. “An outstanding player; he has got unique attributes for us,” said Howe, after Wilson marked his comeback by chesting in Ryan Fraser’s cross to conclude a slick move of 21 touches; Huddersfield’s rookie right-back Juninho Bacuna was doubly culpable. Wilson supplied the second goal in a role reversal – “a great reverse pass,” added Howe – and the excellent Fraser tucked in the finish.
Josh King had three opportunities to add a third while Huddersfield’s strikers remain rooted on a combined three goals for the season. “We have a lack of scoring,” added Siewert, singling out an 18-year-old debutant for praise. “The only positive today is Aaron Rowe.”
There was criticism for the losers, a greater prize for the winners. With 37 points, Bournemouth look safe. Huddersfield got 37 last season to stay up. As they are rooted on 14 now, it feels all the greater an achievement.