By Bradley Stead
It’s been quite a week for Huddersfield Town. After securing their safety from relegation in an intense win against West Bromwich Albion, fans were left shocked on Sunday with the sudden firing of Manager Danny Cowley.
On Friday 17th July, Emile Smith Rowe slotted the ball into the bottom corner of the West Brom net. Leeds fans celebrated the goal that sealed their promotion to the Premier League. Town fans, Danny Cowley, and his backroom staff celebrated the goal that (barring a miracle with the goal difference) meant safety from relegation and Championship survival.
The Cowley’s arrived back in September after Town had picked up just 1 point from their opening 9 games. Jan Siewert’s run of 1 win in 19 (with 3 of those games in the championship) meant that relegation to League One looked like a distinct possibility for a team that had been in England’s top division the season before. The aim for Danny and Nicky Cowley for the remainder of this season then was simple: keep the club up.
And on Friday night they achieved that. Initially, their arrival back in September had seen form improve to the extent that Danny Cowley won Manager of the Month for October, but results and performances throughout the season had become much more mixed, which ultimately meant that the threat of relegation was never far away.
Defeats to Luton and Wigan, in particular, had increased the pressure on the players and management to beat the drop. However, a defensively solid and clinical performance against automatic promotion-chasing West Brom all but sealed another season in the Championship.
So, it perhaps came as a surprise to many that two days later Huddersfield would all of a sudden be looking for a new manager.
In a statement on the club website, Chairman Phil Hodgkinson said that Championship safety was the “clear priority” when he brought the Cowley’s in. However, Hodgkinson went on to explain that “We have a different vision for the way we operate the Club, and how our ambitions can be achieved.”
The sacking of the Cowley’s was then followed by the news that Mark Hudson (First Team Coach) and John Iga (Head of Performance Services) were also being relieved of their duties.
With safety secured, it appears that Town is clearing the way for a new direction and plan to go in next season. There will be a clean slate for whoever comes in, with the leading candidate (at the time of writing) being Leeds United Under 23s boss and first-team coach Carlos Corberan.
In the opinion of this writer, looking from the outside, the appointment of Corberan, should he take the job, would suggest that Huddersfield is looking to play with a similar high intensity, attacking style to that of champions Leeds. Corberan’s experience with youth football may also suggest that Huddersfield is looking to make more use out of their academy, particularly after this season has seen the breakthrough of players like Lewis O’Brien.
Elite Development Team coach, and former player, Danny Schofield will be in charge of the team for the final game of the Championship season against Millwall. He’ll be joined in the dugout by Paul Clements (Head of Goalkeeping), Jon Worthington (Academy coach), and Tommy Elphick who is recovering from a long-term knee injury. Schofield, Worthington and Elphick all have vast experience as players.
The dismissal of Danny and Nicky Cowley has shocked most Town fans, with many voicing their displeasure at the announcment online. It is a big decision that Phil Hodgkinson has made, and only time will tell as to whether it was the right one or not. The next appointment is crucial. After two poor seasons that almost brought successive relegations, it appears that Huddersfield have pressed the reset button, and next season requires better, more consistent performances as well as positive results. It will require time and patience, from fans and the board alike.