Five years have passed since Huddersfield Town last came to Wembley to participate in the championship playoff final, which ended with a penalty shootout victory. After the victory, the then captain and winner of the match, Christopher Schindler, spent the trial in the tunnel and detailed the team bond created by David Wagner, whose motto “No Limits” was affixed to the personal bracelets issued to each player, with their initials and the team number.
On Sunday, another close-knit Huddersfield team, this time led by the methodical Carlos Corbán, remained in the same game of their return to the Premier League. “Cohesion has been one of the keys to a high level of competition within the team”” said the Spain coach.
Huddersfield’s players and staff spent last week in the Algarve, accompanied by their families. Dean Hoyle, the managing director and co-owner who was chairman of the board when the Club last won Promotion, sought to reward their efforts, whether they return to Wembley or not, by repeating a similar trip to Portugal before winning reading.
The only player left in this team is the current captain Jonathan Hogg, known to his teammates as “general”, a nickname given to him by an avid fan. “Since we went [to the final], it has turned into a training camp”” said Lee Brombey, Huddersfield’s head of football operations. “If we hadn’t done it, it would be a celebration and a gratitude for all the staff, the players and their families. It’s probably unique in football.
Huddersfield ridiculed the idea that financial influence was the only way to compete with clubs that developed through parachute payments. The starting fee for the victory in the semi-final of the playoffs against Luton cost a little more than 1.5 million pounds sterling, and the entire team – about 2.3 million pounds sterling. Last summer, they began to correct what, according to statistics, was the worst defense in the division last season and quickly took advantage of the lack of a market aggravated by the recent times to sign seven players for free.
They include goalkeeper Lee Nicholls, who played seven Premier League games last season for MC dons, and 21-year-old midfielder John Russell, who fought for playing time on loan at Chelsea at Accrington. Ollie Turton joined the team just days after helping Blackpool secure Promotion at Wembley last season. Then there is Tom Lees, who tasted the start with Sheffield Wednesday last season, another player who, at first glance, was not the most obvious candidate.
”The idea is that we try to maximize the potential of the players,” Brombey said. “One of the important things we tried last summer is to make sure we represent the Club and the values of our players, so individuality was important for us.
“Tom is almost 32 years old and has had one of his best seasons in history. Tom is a great professional, someone who adheres to all our values, and in every game he is 100% spread out; this year he came out with stitches, a broken nose and everything in between. We wanted to return to the spirit and values that were visible on the pitch so that the fans could communicate with the team. It was really important for us to make sure of that, because I think we lost it a little bit.
Levi Colville, the 19-year-old defender, is the recent young Chelsea player to excel on loan, following in the footsteps of mattery Palmer and Izzy Brown, who were part of the team promoted five years ago, and more recently Trevo Chaloba. In January, Tino Angorin became the recent Chelsea player to make Huddersfield his temporary home. “It seems we’re still beating them in the Youth Fa Cup and they’re still beating us so we can see them first-hand,” laughs Brombey.
The Huddersfield management recognized that it was important for Korberan to carry out a full pre-season preparation to implement his methods, and the results turned out to be fruitful. Previously, he was Marcelo Bielsa’s Assistant at Leeds and he had three weeks to train his team before the first season, which ended with Huddersfield in 20th place.