Getting to know… Huddersfield Town

The series continues with a club steeped in history – one of the only four to be crowned champions of England three times in succession.

Quick facts

Founded: 1908
Ground: Kirklees Stadium (since 1994, capacity 24,121)
Second tier seasons: 39 (+ 32 top flight)
Major honours: First Division (1923/24, 1924/25, 1925/26), FA Cup (1921/22)
Last season: 18th in Championship

2019/20 recap

Few teams bounce straight back up to the Premier League, but even fewer follow relegation with relegation. That’s what Huddersfield were staring in the face last autumn, though, after totally failing to re-acclimiatise to life in the second tier at first. A truly rotten start saw the Cowley brothers – who’d taken charge of Lincoln for the last time in that Joe Jacobson masterclass – replace Jan Siewert as manager in West Yorkshire.

Tasked with keeping Huddersfield up in the first instance, Danny and Nicky did just that. Then, only 48 hours after mathematically securing survival, they were sent packing – the true reasons for which probably only those inside the club know. In any case, it meant the start of another new era for the Terriers – their third in a year.

The gaffer: Carlos Corberán

The new Huddersfield head coach (right) has learned from El Loco himself, but the big question is will he follow in his foosteps and sit on a bucket?

Age: 37
Appointed: July 2020
Previously managed: Leeds U23, Ermis Aradippou, Doxa Katokopia (both Cyprus), Alcorcón Youth (Spain)
Played for: Valencia B

A surprise appointment, Corberán was part of Marcelo Bielsa’s coaching team for two years – alongside his role with Leeds U23s, who became national Professional Development League champions under his stewardship. Having begun coaching in his mid-20s, the Valencian already has a certain degree of experience – but it should go without saying that the Huddersfield job will be his biggest challenge so far. “Carlos was our ideal candidate for our new Head Coach from the outset, as his idea of football is completely aligned with ours,” said the club’s Head of Football Development – former Leeds, Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United defender Leigh Bromby – upon Corberán’s appointment. “He’s determined to bring success back to Huddersfield Town.” Steering clear of any kind of relegation scrap in 2020/21 would be a good starting point.

Fan thoughts

Huddersfield fan Joe Kelly talks us through the Terriers.

2019/20 wasn’t a memorable season for Huddersfield – but you did enough in the end. Why do you think you struggled so much in your first season back down? Last season was a disaster in all honesty. We just never got going. I think the big mistake was giving Siewert a full pre-season – he was out of his depth completely. Our start to the league season was then abysmal: one point after nine games. We we’re always going to be looking over our shoulders rather than up towards the healthy end of the table.

The Cowleys came in and tried to steady the ship, but we had players downing tools thinking they were too good to play in the Championship when, in hindsight, they’d be lucky to be given a starting place in a League Two team (no disrespect to any League Two team that could be possibly reading). These players were also the ones taking most of our wage budget!

Danny Cowley’s sacking seemed to take everyone by surprise, but what are your thoughts on the change of manager? Is it as simple as the club just wanting to move in a new direction? It did come as a bit of a surprise at first considering he had just kept us in the league, which is what he was asked to do when he arrived. But having had time to reflect on this, I think it was the correct decision to let the Cowleys go. Not much changed in style of play and a lot of the football continued to be quite negative. In some interviews they did, it was always the same message coming out that the players were working hard in training when they clearly weren’t. The club have come out and said it’s a new road we are looking to go down, but I think – and some Town fans probably agree – that the chairman wanted control over certain things and the Cowleys wanted their own way.

You recently launched a B Team – the same week as Wycombe actually. Does this hint at the club putting more emphasis on bringing youth through? Should that be the way forward? I personally feel you should always look into your youth academy and give the players a chance, especially now in these circumstances with clubs struggling to generate income to bring in players. The launch of the B team sort of echoes what Brentford have done. We now have Mark Devlin as our CEO and he oversaw a B team come through there. I do feel it’s a good move if you can get it right and align the first team and the B team together – then players should be ready to make the step up when called upon. Hopefully for Town and Wycombe, this move works!

More immediately, what do you need this transfer window and what have you made of your (very limited) business so far? So far, the summer transfer window for Town has seen us bring in [forward] Danny Ward – who Town fans will know very well after his previous two stints at the club. He’s not a bad Championship signing, but we really do need more.

Looking at our squad on paper, we are very light in numbers – especially now with our best midfielder, Lewis O’Brien, out for four weeks. I think the main area we need to target is the goalkeeping department. We have Ben Hamer who is absolutely shocking as our only fit ‘keeper, so I see that as a priority. We have been linked with a few youngsters on loan from the Premier League so it will be interesting to see who we bring in.

Overall, I feel that if we can bring in numbers with a bit of quality who give effort for 90 minutes week in week out and ship out some of the players who are stealing a wage yet downing tools, that would be a successful window!

Last of all, is the plan to get back to the top flight as soon as possible? Or would fans be satisfied with a stable, competitive Championship side for a few years? You speak to a lot of fans of recently relegated teams and they actually say they prefer the Championship – which I can totally understand! I personally just want to see Town competing and winning games again.

Don’t get me wrong, I never expected us to reach the Premier League and it was great to witness Town playing against some of the best players in the world, but for me the Championship is where it is at: proper fans, proper atmosphere and there’s always excitement! Hopefully next season we can kick on and a steady 9th-12th place finish would satisfy me!

When we last met

Do we really want to go back over that? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you don’t want to, so let’s look back at the last time we beat Huddersfield instead: 1994! We did the double over Neil Warnock’s side that season, in fact, most notably pooping the party by winning the opening game at their £16 million new home (watch from 2:49 below) – our first ever away match in the third tier. Simon Garner scored home and away, but ‘Colin’ was the real star of the show at Adams Park with a characteristic post-match paddy: “If I’d said what he said to the ref at half-time, I’d expect to be banned, sine die. Martin’s all right when he’s winning. We’ll see what happens to him in a few years’ time.”

Did you know…?

The president of Huddersfield’s academy is legendary actor Sir Patrick Stewart, their most famous fan.

Header photo: Markus Unger via Flickr

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