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Huddersfield Town 0-1 Nottingham Forest: Why Wembley heartbreak shouldn’t be the end of Carlos Corberan’s dream

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Huddersfield Town and Carlos Corberan saw their promotion dream end at Wembley on Sunday as Nottingham Forest sealed a place back in Premier League for the first time since 1999.  

“One step too far” is likely going to be a phrase levelled at Corberan and his side, probably unfairly, on an afternoon where there was little between the third and fourth best teams in this year’s Championship.

Levi Colwill turning an excellent James Garner cross beyond Lee Nicholls was ultimately the difference; an unfortunate moment for the Chelsea loanee, who has enjoyed a fine first year of senior football.

There was an improved second-half display despite that decisive blow at the end of a conservative half, albeit without the reward of a goal or a penalty. Under the Wembley arch, Corberan and his squad were forced to watch on as Forest celebrated a top-flight return.

It’s been a season that didn’t deserve this end but, as we know, in a play-off final there is always a winner and always a loser.

Defeat and deflation for today and the weeks to come, yet there’s a pre-season just around the corner and the bigger picture has to be that this is a platform for Huddersfield.

How many times have we seen a side suffer play-off heartbreak and bounce back 12 months later? Brighton, Leeds and Bournemouth are three examples that spring to mind from the last decade and offer a blueprint for Corberan. His opposite number, Steve Cooper, is another after back-to-back failures with Swansea City.

Planning starts now for 2022/23, amid the agony.

“My feeling is to accept that we didn’t win today,” Corberan told his post-match press conference.

“Accept that we had a big opportunity to go to the Premier League. That was my dream and the dream of the group.

“We have to accept it because this is part of football and part of life. I know it’s not going to be the only situation in my life when these things will happen.

“I hope that if we have another opportunity the result will be different to the one of today. I hope this experience helps me to achieve what I want to achieve.”

What will help him achieve that is that the squad that’s been built at the John Smith’s Stadium should not be ripped to pieces like Forest’s would have, had they been on the wrong side of today’s result.

Colwill will return to Chelsea and Lewis O’Brien might be poached by the top-flight’s vultures. The latter is an obvious blow given he’s the heartbeat of Corberan’s side. However, a tidy eight-figure sum would make that easier to accept, particularly if it’s reinvested, as it should be.

Sorba Thomas and Harry Toffolo are two others that will have admirers. However, Thomas is just a week into a new long-term contract and Toffolo has made no secret of how settled he is in the area. There’s every chance they are retained.

When it comes to tweaking the squad here and there, the powers that be can now be trusted to make the right decisions. Lee Nicholls, Tom Lees, Danel Sinani and Jon Russell underline their eye for a player.

That’s without even mentioning Colwill, whose development under Huddersfield’s watch will surely encourage Chelsea and their Premier League counterparts to consider the John Smith’s Stadium as an appropriate place for young talent to develop.

Shrewd recruitment, mixed with existing talent and Corberan’s tactical nous, has given Huddersfield a season to remember.

The blocks have been put in place and they can be built on moving into next season. It’ll be tough, because the Championship always is, but that unpredictable nature of the division means anything can happen. Huddersfield know that more than anyone.

Whether an opportunity like this presents itself immediately or not remains to be seen, which makes this moment harder for Huddersfield.

It could have been very different, too.

Garner’s cross that struck Colwill could’ve ended up anywhere, whilst Toffolo and O’Brien had strong penalty appeals waved away by Jon Moss and then VAR, controversially.

Fine margins that, in this moment, only add to the pain.

Yet, Huddersfield have got to believe that their stint out of the Premier League, which is now heading into a fourth season, doesn’t become 23 years like today’s opponents.

“Without any type of doubt (we will use this as motivation),” Corberan expressed. “We can believe that we can be here.”

Replicating the ‘Terrier Spirit’ they’ve shown and building rather than regretting gives them every chance.


Alfie is a journalist based in Yorkshire with years of experience covering the EFL. A current focus on Huddersfield Town and their fortunes back in the Championship, but out and about at as many games as possible. Covered Leeds United during their promotion-winning season in 2019/20.

ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: Huddersfield Town 0-1 Nottingham Forest: Why Wembley heartbreak shouldn’t be the end of Carlos Corberan’s dream

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