Huddersfield Town kicked off the second game of the season with an away day at The Etihad to face defending champions Manchester City.
Pep Guardiola’s men certainly showed their class as they defeated the Terriers 6-1 – defender Jon Gorenc Stankovic scored Town’s consolation goal, whilst a Sergio Aguero hat-trick plus goals from David Silva and Gabriel Jesus, and an own goal from Terence Kongolo gave The Citizens their deserving victory.
Huddersfield midfielder Philip Billing spoke after the match to reflect on the defeat to discuss the game, Stankovic, and the team's outlook ahead of the Cardiff City game.
“The season starts now”
When asked what he think went wrong, the young Dane said: “It was City. Not much you can do against them.”
"At times we tried to press higher – the goalie just had a good kick, so he just kicked it over everybody. At times we sat deep, that’s just the same – they’ll always find a man free. Especially when you’re playing midfield its hard because you’re just chasing shadows,” he continued.
He added: “At the start, they had a few chances early on, and so did we to be honest, and obviously scored a goal, and then a few mistakes - it happens when you’re tired, it gets sloppy.
"It happens, but the season starts now -we’ve just got to move on to Cardiff,” the 22-year-old added.
City’s movement was exceptional, which made it extremely difficult for Town’s midfield.
“It’s very hard. There’s a lot of movement – and eight out of ten times you think you’ve got your man, and then the one time you haven’t; that’s when they play the ball, so you can’t switch off at all,” said Billing.
“That happened a few times today -they’re top class players, and you’ve just got to move on.”
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Praise for debutant Stankovic
Huddersfield’s goal came from a long Billing throw in, which striker Steve Mounié flicked on to allow Stankovic to poke home – and score a goal on his Premier League debut after being out injured since March 2017.
Billing’s long throw ins into the box have become more apparent in Town’s games, and they often create goals scoring chances for the Terriers.
“We’ve got to set up, and we know we can get the chances out of it. We got one chance and scored a goal from that, so it works,” Billing said.
He then went on to praise goalscorer Stankovic: “He’s worked hard and I’m happy to see him back. I think he was the best of all of us today – I think he had a solid game, defended well, and did everything well. He was good on the ball when he got it.”
Stankovic played in more of a typical No. 6 role, rather than his typical centre-half position, alongside Billing, and they seemed to help each other throughout the match.
“We were talking and obviously, with me having a bit more experience in midfield – trying to help him and talk to him as much as I could.
"I just told him which man to mark, and sometimes Mounié and [Alex] Pritchard had to drop down because we were very deep – but its Man City, that’s how you have to play, and even playing like that they still create chances,” he added.
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“We’ve got to move on”
Town must now put these two defeats behind them, and work hard together to pick up their first points of the season against Cardiff at the John Smith’s Stadium next time out, and Billing emphasised that the atmosphere in the changing room must be positive this coming week.
“We’ve got to move on to Cardiff now – we can’t have our heads down because of this game. We know it's going to be tough, but we’ve just got to get on with it,” said Billing.
“Hopefully we can go into Cardiff with confidence. Obviously, two defeats is never nice, but we’ve got to stay positive. That’s all we can do,” he continued.
Billing also had a special message for the Town fans, as, despite the result, they still sung and cheered the team on until the final whistle.
“They have to stick with us – its never nice to see your team lose, and as players; we’re as frustrated as them.
"We’ve got to move on, we’ve got to stick together, and we’ve got to be positive, and I’m sure we will get the points this season,” the midfielder concluded.