Huddersfield Town: How Corberan’s ‘Tricky Terriers’ have gone from relegation favourites to dark horses in the Championship
Seven games into the new Championship season and the table is starting to take shape. Teams are falling into places where many expected them to, but who would’ve thought Huddersfield Town would find themselves in 4th?
Huddersfield Town won just three games in the second half of last season. After the turn of the year the Terriers’ mid-table form turned as well, and Carlos Corberan’s side dropped from 12th on New Year’s Eve to 20th by the end of the campaign – just six points above safety in the end.
The summer came around and it was another summer of budgeting. Huddersfield Town spent close to half-a-million pounds in total last summer, on the signing of Pipa, and not a single penny in the summer transfer window just gone with Corberan and the often controversial recruitment team at the club focusing on free and loan signings.
At first, Huddersfield Town’s summer of business looked an underwhelming one. Seven free agents were brought in and most of them from League One, with Town also making three loan signings. But so far those signings have helped plugged the many gaps in Corberan’s XI. Town won 3-0 away at Blackpool last night and of the starting line up, four of which came in over summer – the three at the back had all arrived over the summer in Matty Pearson, Tom Lees and Levi Colwill, with Danel Sinani starting in attack. Pearson in particular has proved a shrewd signing, with the former Luton Town man having scored three times already in the Championship this season.
Looking at the Huddersfield Town side that claimed only 18 points in the second half of last season compared to the Huddersfield Town side that have claimed 13 points from their opening seven games of this season, scoring as many goals along the way too, makes for truly stark viewing.
So how has Corberan turned his Huddersfield Town fortunes around?
On the transfer front, Huddersfield seem to have learned some hard lessons. They spent some woeful money during their time in the Premier League and as much as they’re limited in spending now because of it, they’re also turning their attention to more proven players, ones with experience of the English game and who can handle the rigours and demands of it.
Town’s Head of Recruitment Josh Marsh and the club’s chairman Phil Hodgkinson have come under mass scrutiny from fans in the past. But the best compliment to them could be that they’re no longer being talked about so much amongst the own faithful – they’ve seemingly taken a step back on the transfer front and allowed Corberan and indeed Marsh to bring in players which suit the philosophy that the Spaniard is implementing.
And the return of names like Josh Koroma who was pivotal last season until his injury can’t be ignored, and neither can the early season form of Sorba Thomas. Town lacked bite last season, they lacked any real kind of threat but now with the likes of Koroma and Thomas providing, and a more experienced spine in place with Lee Nicholls in goal, Lees at the back and the ever-present Jonathan Hogg in the middle, Corberan’s side are a much more balanced one and that has enabled them to play a more meaningful game.
Town went into this season as FourFourTwo’s prediction for 22nd-place and whilst there’s a long way to go before that can be proved wrong, the club is certainly on track to oust that summer scepticism that many outsiders and likely many fans had too. In fairness, many general viewers may not have noticed just how good a season Huddersfield were having before their commanding win over Blackpool last night and it’s that ‘under the radar’ mentality that underdogs like Huddersfield thrive on.
Corberan’s Tricky Terriers
The challenges ahead for Huddersfield Town are clear – hold onto, or least cash-in healthily on key assets like Lewis O’Brien and continue scoping lower leagues for gems like Thomas, whilst keeping spending limited and picking their moments (however long down the line they may be) to buy players who will improve the squad and who will compliment Corberans philosophy. A top-six finish was never on the cards for 4th-place Huddersfield this season. Fans can dream of being dark horses for a top-six finish and so too can the club, but after a turbulent time following their 2019 relegation, even a mid-table finish would present a stark improvement on last season and indeed the 2019/20 season when they finished 18th.
For the first time in not such a long time, there’s optimism in the stands at The John Smith’s Stadium and it’s not empty optimism either. Huddersfield are slowly reaping the rewards of what arguably still remains a risky appointment in Corberan but so far, so good this season. Corberan’s Tricky Terriers are proving just that and next on their agenda is last-place Nottingham Forest – a win can see them top of the Championship table.