Huddersfield Town supporters all share a very similar opinion of Alex Pritchard’s spell at the John Smith’s Stadium. It’s been a transfer that hasn’t worked out and, heading into the summer, it’s the right call for the two parties to go their separate ways.
Pritchard is out of contract at the end of the current campaign and it is the understanding of Football League World that Queens Park Rangers could pick the 27-year-old up on a free transfer.
Mark Warburton is currently the manager of the West London outfit and is said to be very keen on the idea of getting his hands on Pritchard ahead of the 2021/22 campaign.
That desire is not likely to be built on the fact that Pritchard has been good under Carlos Corberan because, simply, he hasn’t. The midfielder has started only six times in the Championship this season, completed 658 minutes of football and failed to register a goal involvement.
Instead, what Warburton’s opinion will be built on is a very good showing under him when he was manager of Brentford. He took Pritchard on loan for the 2014/15 campaign, with the pair having success in West London.
As the graphic above shows, Pritchard was a regular for the Bees as they crashed into the play-off places in the Championship.
The midfielder made 47 appearances, including the play-off semi-finals, playing almost 4,000 minutes across the season.
He was productive too, with 12 goals and seven assists, including goals in wins against Bournemouth and Norwich City, who at the time were fellow promotion hopefuls. There was also a winning goal at Elland Road against Leeds United; granted at a time when the Whites weren’t the force they are now, but still a notoriously tricky away day.
Beyond the goal contributions, Pritchard was the driving force for a side that liked to get themselves on the front-foot.
On average, Pritchard was averaging three shots per game, as well as 2.4 key passes from an average of 42 passes. He accrued a pass success of 76.9% over the course of the season.
As per whoscored.com’s rating, Pritchard had a season average of 7.21, which remains his best rating over the course of his career. The only time he’s come close to that was with Norwich City in the 2017/18 campaign.
Pritchard left his loan at Brentford with a place in the PFA’s Team of the Season, as well as the club’s Players’ Player of the Year award.
Warburton got the best out of Pritchard at Griffin Park, with that loan spell often cited as the reason why clubs had the belief in the young midfielder to eventually take him to the Premier League.
It is, you’d imagine, one of the reasons why Huddersfield took a £12m decision to sign him back in 2018.
Ultimately, though, nobody has managed to lure this kind of form out of Pritchard since Warburton, and the midfielder’s stock has fallen rapidly during his stint with Huddersfield.
Warburton cannot, and should not, ignore the form Pritchard has shown since joining Huddersfield and he’s going to have to recognise that he isn’t the fearless, young midfielder he once was.
The fact remains, though, that Warburton has seen talent in Pritchard that’s hard to shake from your radar, and he will back his coaching to bring the 27-year-old back to those levels if they reunite in a different part of West London.
His opinion is very different to the one at the John Smith’s Stadium.