When former Braintree Town and, more recently, Lincoln City manager Danny Cowley and his assistant, brother Nicky, left the Imps to join Championship side Huddersfield Town, they would have known things wouldn’t be plain sailing in West Yorkshire.
The Terriers were comfortably relegated from the Premier League last season following a two-year spell in the top flight and have suffered the hangover which regularly comes from a disappointing season.
The Championship is an unforgiving league – relentless, breathless and presents a multitude of challenges that can be difficult to come to terms with for a club in a degree of freefall on the pitch and transition off it.
Huddersfield’s previous owners have moved on at a time when stability is paramount and the club need everything running on an even keel – both in the dugout and in the boardroom – to ensure they come through this tough spell.
They look to have made a smart managerial move in that respect, bringing in the dependable Cowleys, with their organisational skills and eye for detail in preparation being just what’s required at the club at present.
We’ve looked at two things the Cowleys need to address, be it gradual or instantly, and one thing the players need to take on board to make the transition a success.
1. Confidence is sorely missing
After a Premier League campaign that saw the Terriers well beaten regularly, a strong start was needed this season to enable the players to get that winning feeling again, get that confidence back in their game and start enjoying their football again.
This, of course, has not been the case as Huddersfield sit bottom of the Championship with just one point from their opening eight fixtures as previous manager Jan Siewart and caretaker Mark Hudson have been unable to halt the slide.
It will take time, patience and perhaps some good fortune on the pitch for the Cowley’s to re-establish that confidence, personality and enjoyment of the game back into their players before they start heading up the Championship table.
2. New goalkeeper flatters to deceive
After Premier League relegation, Huddersfield’s first choice goalkeeper Jonas Lössl departed the club to move to Everton, becoming Jordan Pickford’s understudy.
The Terriers replaced the Dane with Polish Under-21 international Kamil Grabara, who arrived on loan from Liverpool, having spent the previous campaign on loan in Denmark with Aarhus.
Though Grabara is clearly talented and a good shotstopper, the 20-year-old lacks presence in the Huddersfield goal. Regularly struggling to deal with crosses into his box and set piece situations, the Pole doesn’t inspire confidence in his defenders and looks something of a weak link for the Terriers at present.
Perhaps the Cowley’s should take him out of the firing line, putting the more physically strong and experienced Joel Coleman (though he’s been out of the picture for some time) back in as they look for a platform to build on
3. Players need to adapt to Cowley’s methodology
At previous clubs Braintree and Lincoln, Danny Cowley has been very keen on preparation and methods.
Often talking of breaking the game down into six ’15 minute segments’, the Cowley’s have had incredible success through their keen eye for detail and setting their teams up to follow strict instructions.
The Huddersfield Town players will need to buy into this approach, follow orders accordingly and trust in the well honed managerial techniques of the Cowley brothers if they are to start seeing improvement.