Before kick-off, they were handing out free throat lozenges at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Tony Pulis may have wished it was paracetamol. The West Bromwich Albion manager has a headache and, after another defeat – which means they now have two wins from their last 20 Premier League matches in a run stretching back to last season – it shows no signs of disappearing.
Here, many of the travelling Baggies supporters demanded the Welshman’s head. What Pulis has done for this club should not be forgotten, but this felt like a seismic afternoon at the foot of the Pennines.
After winning their first two matches of the campaign, five defeats and four draws is enough to land most managers in trouble and Pulis will be no different.
A Rajiv van La Parra wonderstrike and two brilliant injury-time saves by Jonas Lossl after the Terriers had been reduced to 10 men were enough for David Wagner, as the dream continues in West Yorkshire. A sign of things to come came on 15 minutes, when the home side had a penalty shout turned down as Van La Parra went down under a challenge from Kieran Gibbs who got the ball, just.
With Huddersfield the brighter starters, Tom Ince then stung Ben Foster’s palms with a long-range effort. On 29 minutes, after a stray long ball into touch, the visiting contingent had seen enough. ‘Attack, attack, attack,’ they chanted. They were almost rewarded with a goal – a Huddersfield goal – when Ince skied an Aaron Mooy corner over from the edge of the box.
With half-time approaching, it came as no surprise when the Terriers took the lead. The Baggies failed to respond to Mooy’s quick free-kick, allowing Van La Parra space on the edge of the box. The Dutchman was yet to score in the top flight but curled a stunning, dipping strike beyond Ben Foster.
When the whistle was blown moments later, the boos from the away end were audible amidst the feverish applause from the joyous home contingent. Following the interval came chants of ‘We want Pulis out,’ and ‘Tony Pulis, your football is ****’.
It felt like tipping point had been reached when, out of nowhere, came a break for tthe manager and his Baggies. Terriers defender Christopher Schindler, already on a yellow card, was late on Ahmed Hegazi for no apparent reason.
Out came the red and a triple substitution from Pulis which felt like a last throw of the dice. Finally, on 73 minutes, a chance for the visitors, but sub Salomon Rondon could only head an Evans cross narrowly wide. With 10 minutes to go, the West Brom Twitter account had registered just three tweets. It was that kind of day.
In the six minutes of injury time, Lossl superbly defied Aaron McClean’s header and Matt Phillips’s shot as Wagner demanded the home support to turn up the volume, which they did. Wagner will mark his second anniversary in the job on Sunday.
It is all a little different from when he took over, with the Terriers 18th in the Championship. He was not an instant hit, losing his first three games, albeit to the likes of Leeds, Sheffield Wednesday and Middlesbrough.
In the build up to this one, the German said he never dreamed that two years on he would be in the Premier League with 12 points from 10 games.
‘I never dreamed about this,’ he said. ‘We have worked on the impossible since I arrived.’ That impossible is now three points closer. For Pulis, something else may be on the way.