Jack Rudoni should fully commit to Huddersfield Town path Neil Warnock has already set him on
The midfielder was tried in a number of different positions and roles last season that all called for slightly different styles of play, but cyborg-like efficiency suits him best
At a certain point last season, Jack Rudoni was one of the only bright sparks in an otherwise largely listless Terriers side, with his willingness to make the hard yards on and off the ball giving the impression of a player determined to try and lift his teammates by the scruff of the neck and drive them into the final third.
Lest you think we are rewriting history there, please note the word ‘try’. Two things held Rudoni back from being more successful in that endeavour: his own learning curve as he got used to playing at Championship level for the first time, and an overall lack of verve among his attacking teammates. (His own poor finishing is not especially explained by either of those things, mind.)
That started to change late in the season after Neil Warnock’s arrival, and – after months of positional changes and varying tactical briefs for Rudoni – that was when we started to finally see the version of the midfielder that the manager will want to see more of in the campaign ahead.
That’s not a Jack Rudoni who is the primary inventor and creator; that’s going to be on Sorba Thomas and Brahima Diarra. It’s not a Jack Rudoni who is there primarily to sit and mop up from a deeper-lying midfield role; that’s Rarmani Edmonds-Green and Jonathan Hogg’s job. And it’s not a Jack Rudoni who is expected to float loosely around the pitch, filling in whatever jobs are required; everyone should have much more clearly defined roles to stop that from happening.
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No: the Jack Rudoni we want to see, and expect Warnock wants to see too, is a ruthless football machine, both on and off the ball; less Roger Federer, more Novak Djokovic. Less Andres Iniesta, more Bastian Schweinsteiger. Rudoni had the potential to push himself in either direction, but aiming for cyborg-like efficiency rather than silky smooth style now feels like his best route to success.
We know Rudoni is more willing than most primarily attacking midfielders to do the hard yards – so much so that we’re not even really sure we consider him a primarily attacking midfielder anymore. That hard work was on show throughout last season already.
Warnock will want that to continue, but he will also want Rudoni to be clinical in the final third. We got a hint of that in his performance against Stockport, where we didn’t find his work on the ball to be especially notable or noteworthy, and yet he still went off just after the hour having notched up an assist and a goal.
That assist he claimed in setting up Josh Koroma to score Huddersfield Town’s second goal was exactly this writ large, with Rudoni marrying his determination off the ball with incisive quick-thinking on it, winning the ball off an opponent before sending the winger through to find the net.
Those quick wits were on display again as he scored just before being withdrawn from the fray, with Rudoni first to react to a loose ball and sprint through a gap in the defence before firing past the goalkeeper.
Town need plenty more of those kinds of moments next year to help drive that goal tally up from midfield; for that, they need Rudoni to be a curly-haired Terminator.