Huddersfield Town travel to Carrow Road today for tonight's Sky Bet Championship fixture with Norwich City.
Carlos Corberan, having been part of the Leeds United coaching set up last season under Marcelo Bielsa, was appointed head coach of the Terriers in the summer with the remit of bringing an attractive style of play to the West Yorkshire club. We spoke to the Huddersfield Examiner’s Steven Chicken about how the Spaniard is doing in that regard and what players we should watch out for this evening.
Canaries.co.uk: Corberan came in during the summer and tried to implement a new style of play for Huddersfield Town from what had previously been in place under Danny and Nicky Cowley. How do you feel he has done so far this campaign?
SC: I think for the first half of the season results spoke for themselves. He exceeded all expectations by the time we got to the new year and when he got a new contract on Christmas Eve, the fans were delighted with it. There is no hiding from the fact results have not been good since the turn of the new year, but I don’t think that is entirely down to Carlos Corberan to be fair to him. They have had a lot of injury problems which haven’t helped and he has had to adapt the approach in recent games. The style he played in the first half of the season has had to go on the back burner a little bit to help the team grind out some results.
Canaries.co.uk: How similar is the style of play Carlos Coberan uses to the system employed by Leeds United, where he worked under Marcelo Bielsa last campaign?
SC: I think the main similarity is they are very man-to-man off the ball, which sometimes can create problems, but it can also create opportunities if the players are on their game. It does put a lot of onus on the individuals to do their jobs well rather than it being about the system which a lot of teams are about at this level. However, we have seen some compromises from him in terms of that style recently because, with the players he has got available, he has not been able to play entirely the way he would have wanted to. They have had to make a few tweaks to simplify things a bit because from the results it clearly wasn’t working and since then they have gone four unbeaten going into Friday's match with Brentford.
Canaries.co.uk: During that four-game unbeaten run Huddersfield Town played Cardiff City live on Sky Sports and were very unfortunate not to come away with three points from that match. Have the other games been similar?
SC: Yes, they have played a similar way to what they did in that game. That game was very encouraging. The result was obviously disappointing but when you look at the form Cardiff City were in going into that game and compare it to the form Huddersfield Town were in, to come away from that game disappointed to have only got a draw tells you that they were unlucky and they played much better than they had done previously. They followed that match up with a win against Queens Park Rangers and a draw against Sheffield Wednesday, so things are definitely looking more positive than they were at this time last month.
Canaries.co.uk: Yaya Sanogo was brought into the side in early February. How much has he helped in allowing Carlos Corberan to tweak the system slightly and get the recent results that they have?
SC: It is clear that they want to play him more than they have been able to. He hadn’t played for about a year before he signed for Huddersfield as a free agent and he is right at the heart of the way Corberan is thinking about this new approach. He has started playing two up top and has switched to a 3-5-2 formation. Sanogo allows them to play a different way and take a different angle of attack and, because they have got players like Josh Koroma injured, they had become a bit too predictable, but Sanogo has helped them get rid of that. They have signed Oumar Niasse as well, who we have not seen play yet, but that will be an intriguing partnership with your big man in Sanogo and your quicker player and goalscorer in Niasse.
Canaries.co.uk: Huddersfield also signed Richard Keogh. What has his impact been?
SC: He was signed as a bit of a stop gap to be honest, because Huddersfield have actually got loads of centre-backs but they all got injured apart from Naby Sarr. So, they just needed someone to come in and fill in for a few games. Fans didn’t have much in the way of expectations for him when he arrived but has done better than a lot of people would have expected. He has kept his place in the team on merit and I don’t think the fans would want him taken out of the team now.
Canaries.co.uk: One Huddersfield Town player who is fondly remembered here at Norwich City is Alex Pritchard. How has he performed this season?
SC: It has never worked out for him at Huddersfield Town unfortunately. He has not played much this season. He has had recurring injury problems, but he has also been left out of the last couple of squads despite being fit to play. It is hard to say why it has not worked out for him here, but his contract is up in the summer and I think he just needs a change of scenery at this point if I am honest.
Canaries.co.uk: In terms of Huddersfield players, who should the Norwich City fans watch out for this evening?
SC: Jonathan Hogg has been excellent this season and, so far, they have not won a game without him in the starting XI this term. Lewis O’Brien has been getting back on form recently as well. He was player of the season last year and I think he will probably admit that he wasn’t having his best season up until recently but the last few games he has really got back to his best and has started to look dangerous and picked out some passes that have created some good opportunities.