Huddersfield Town might have opted to ditch the Danny Cowley project back in July, but they are still in debt to their former boss for a couple of things: survival, obviously, but also Harry Toffolo.
Toffolo followed Cowley from Lincoln City to Huddersfield last winter, signing a contract until 2022 and helping the Terriers retain their place in the Championship with some really solid performances during the 2019/20 run-in.
The left-back’s career had been a little bit of a rollercoaster up until that point. He’d had a number of loans away from Norwich City and an unsuccessful spell with Millwall.
Lincoln offered him a permanent home and a place to develop, which he did. He won promotion from League Two with the Imps and Cowley, before taking League One by storm. His next stop would be the Championship and Huddersfield.
After helping the Terriers survive last season – scoring one goal and registering two assists in 19 appearances – Toffolo found himself saying goodbye to Cowley after the penultimate game of 2019/20. Huddersfield were heading in a different direction, which has, ultimately, been good for the 25-year-old.
Carlos Corberan’s style of play suits the left-back down to the ground: heightening his impact in attack but also giving him the opportunity to showcase his excellent man-on-man defending.
In 20 appearances for Huddersfield this season, Toffolo has two goals and five assists from left-back. He provides width on the left (as the attached heat map later in the article shows) and had struck up a formidable partnership with Josh Koroma on the left before the forward’s injury.
— Huddersfield Town (@htafc) December 6, 2020
Constantly taking part in attacking drills, Corberan likes to think of his full-backs as attacking players and that licence he gives Toffolo and Pipa (the Town right-back) makes them the two standout players anytime you watch Huddersfield.
As per Wyscout, Toffolo averages 1.94 touches in the opposition penalty area per 90, as well as 1.79 progressive runs and 3.2 accurate crosses. He is, statistically, one of Huddersfield’s most dangerous attackers, whilst also providing defensive stability in a system that can leave you open.
6.35 ball recoveries (26% in the opposition half) underline Toffolo’s strong defensive ability, whilst 4.66 interceptions per game point to a clever football brain.
Toffolo’s trajectory at Huddersfield is hard to ignore. In a specialist position, in a very demanding system, he’s excelling and that’s not going to go unnoticed. In a short amount of time he’s progressed from League Two to the Championship and the next step will be the Premier League.
The next two transfer windows will surely spark interest and speculation, which is an unwelcome worry for Huddersfield.
This coming January needs to be a month of strengthening Corberan’s squad, not weakening it. There will be no desire to lose Toffolo, whatsoever, at boardroom level or from Corberan.
However, whilst Huddersfield remain a Championship side, the pecking order leaves them vulnerable to top-flight clubs picking up their standout performers. It’s just the way of the world.
Cowley always saw the potential in Toffolo and had the belief in his ability, but it’s Corberan that’s taken his game to that next level. It wouldn’t be an outrageous call to suggest he’s the best left-back in the Championship right now.
The concern that brings heading into January is just one of those things.