Huddersfield Town have found 2021 a real struggle, with Carlos Corberan’s side failing to build on a promising start to the season as injuries pinch and wins become hard to come by.
Corberan should still lead the Terriers to safety in the Championship, despite their place in next season’s competition not quite confirmed yet.
A clash with Coventry City at the John Smith’s Stadium awaits tomorrow, before Town take on Reading FC at the Madejski Stadium on the final day of the season.
Then, it should be a time to reflect and look ahead to 2021/22 for Huddersfield.
The board will have a decision to make with Corberan after a lacklustre second-half of the season, but Phil Hodgkinson’s vocal backing of the Spaniard does suggest he will be afforded time as head coach.
So, with that in mind, we take a look at the TWO of the biggest decisions Corberan has heading into the summer…
Shaping his attack
You could argue that Huddersfield’s defence needs work, but Pipa, Harry Toffolo and Naby Sarr are all solid options and justify a first choice berth next season. A new centre-back and goalkeeping competition for Ryan Schofield will solve any lingering issue at that end of the pitch.
Corberan and Leigh Bromby, though, need to work out how they want their attack to shape up for the new season.
Josh Koroma should be an easy pick somewhere across the the attack, but with Isaac Mbenza, Fraizer Campbell, Yaya Sanogo and Oumar Niasse all out of contract, there’s a chance we will see different personnel alongside him.
Football League World understand that Huddersfield are in pole position to re-sign Jordan Rhodes on a free transfer, whilst we have also been told that Town are amongst a pool of clubs making checks on Carlos Mendes Gomes at Morecambe.
Signings will be made to reshape the Huddersfield attack in the summer and players will be allowed to leave with little fuss.
A decision has to be made when it comes to Campbell, though, who has scored seven goals this season and has produced a number of impressive performances at a time when Huddersfield were thriving.
Whilst not carrying the goal threat another striker might, Campbell has proved his worth to Corberan this season, with the head coach very vocal about how important he is.
How Corberan sees his attack shaping next season is going to be interesting to watch unfold.
Style of play
Back at the start of the season, Huddersfield had a clear style of play that stemmed from the philosophy of their head coach.
Corberan was favouring a 4-3-3 system, with Pipa and Toffolo marauding full-backs, Jonathan Hogg shielding the defence and Carel Eiting and Lewis O’Brien providing an attacking trio with ammunition.
It was working and had Huddersfield sitting nicely in mid-table.
However, it’s all unravelled at the John Smith’s Stadium since December 29th; Pipa and Toffolo have had injuries, whilst Koroma and Eiting have been in the treatment room long-term. Because of that, O’Brien has had to play out of position.
Corberan has often switched to a 3-5-2 formation during the second-half of the season, as he looks to make Huddersfield harder to beat, whilst bringing in Sanogo to play that little bit more direct rather than playing through the midfield.
Injuries, though, have meant it has been square pegs in round holes: Duane Holmes and O’Brien having stints at wing-back and Mbenza playing through the middle.
Results have remained hard to come by despite that switch in approach and we’ve reached the point where even when Huddersfield lose, you can’t fall back on Corberan sticking to his philosophy and playing a good brand of football.
It has all just got very messy.
Next season, the Huddersfield head coach needs to get back to what he and his side were doing at the start of the season. 4-3-3 with attacking full-backs and an 8-10 pivot in the midfield is the way forward, getting the best out of Pipa, Toffolo, O’Brien and Koroma.
Injuries and the need for results have twisted Corberan’s arm this season, but he needs to stick to his guns in 2021/22 and see where it takes Huddersfield.