Huddersfield Town slipped to a second successive defeat against Middlesbrough on Saturday, losing 2-1 at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Carlos Corberan’s side remain eighth in the Championship table and in a position most supporters would have taken before a ball was kicked in 2021/22. However, they are now four points adrift of the top-six and regretting missed opportunities to establish themselves in the play-off places.
December’s busy schedule begins on Saturday with a trip to Barnsley, as Huddersfield aim to bounce back from recent setbacks and finish 2021 on a high.
How Huddersfield respond this month is going to be interesting and could potentially define their season.
That leads to us assessing a couple of dilemmas Corberan is facing heading into the final month of the calendar year:
What to do with fringe players
It’s been a very select group of Huddersfield players that Corberan has been leaning on this season. The Spaniard’s use of his wider squad has drawn criticism, with the same tried and tested combinations continuously getting the nod.
A couple of players, then, have a question mark to their name going into December and the subsequent transfer window.
Rolando Aarons hasn’t played a minute of Championship football yet this season, despite the song and dance Huddersfield made bringing him to the club previously. At 26, surely he wants more minutes under his belt? Whether a loan is on the cards is anyone’s guess, but it wouldn’t be out of the blue.
Mipo Odubeko is another that’s struggled for opportunities. He’s had chances from the bench, but Corberan has held him back despite his arrival from West Ham United on loan, and focused more on developing him.
Would his place in the first-team squad not be better with a player that can impact the here and now for Huddersfield?
They are just two individuals forcing dilemmas.
Avoiding 2022 downturn in results
Huddersfield weren’t ever genuinely in the play-off picture last season in the Championship, but when they beat Blackburn Rovers on December 29th, they were looking up not down.
However, the season soured as 2020 became 2021. Injuries plagued the squad and Corberan saw his side win only three times between then and the end of the season, pulling them into a relegation battle.
It will be at the back of his mind to not avoid that repeating itself this season.
Fans aren’t expecting Huddersfield to storm into the play-offs and back to the Premier League. They will take mid-table and a season of security.
What they will not accept, though, is another collapse and a positive start ruined.
That’s why addressing the last two games is absolutely crucial. A bad week cannot become a bad month because, as Huddersfield know, a bad month can quickly become a rut that can spiral out of control.