Huddersfield Town: Leigh Bromby plays invaluable support role to put Terriers in promotion frame – Stuart Rayner

There are end-of-season awards for all sorts of things in football nowadays but you rarely hear much chat about a director of football of the year. If there was, Huddersfield Town’s Leigh Bromby would have to be in the running.

The Terriers have been one of the stories of the season by doing things properly.

Carlos Corberan deserves huge credit for the way he has coached unheralded players into genuine promotion contenders. The way he addressed the problems behind 2020-21’s relegation battle – or a lot of them, anyway – has been impressive.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The players too should be showered with plaudits. Lee Nicholls has been immense in goal, Sorba Thomas has had a breakthrough season, Tom Lees and Matty Pearson have been rocks, Danny Ward has shaken off a difficult first year back at the club by combining ability and workrate, Jonathan Hogg remains an outstanding leader and Lewis O’Brien and Levi Colwill look destined for bigger and better things.

Huddersfield Town's Tom Lees and Levi Colwill have been inspired signings for Huddersfield Town. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

In the new year, Jon Russell and Ollie Turton have come up on the rails.

Every player not mentioned there would have cause for complaint because to a man they have been excellent.

Just as important has been brilliant recruitment.

There is much more to being a director of football than trading players, but it is the shop-window of Bromby’s job.

Leigh Bromby (right) head of football operations at Huddersfield Town and former owner Phil Hodgkinson Picture: Robbie Jay Barratt/Getty Images

And whilst other Championship clubs throw parachute money, or demonstrate their “ambition” with the number of noughts on their cheques, Huddersfield look down on most of them by barely making a splash.

The main problems Corberan identified last summer were a leaky defence, a surfeit of injuries and a skeleton squad. He hardly had to be Miss Marple but his skill was devising a plan of what to do about it, and Bromby’s was in getting him the tools.

Corberan’s fascination with the number of Championship minutes transfer targets played in recent seasons as a benchmark of quality and robustness led them to Pearson and Lees, two sturdy centre-backs released by Luton Town and Sheffield Wednesday respectively.

Because Turton was coming to back-up Pipa at right-back, it mattered less that his appearances came lower down, but Bromby saw the potential to grow after time on the Canalside training ground.

Huddersfield Town head coach Carlos Corberan. Picture: Tony Johnson.

Even with Pipa injured for more or less the whole first half of the season, Turton was limited to cameos. Now, with the Spaniard back, Turton is thriving.

Amongst the journeymen, a little stardust was needed, particularly if Corberan wanted the option of three at the back, so Bromby leaned on Huddersfield’s relationship with Chelsea to loan Colwill, a then-18-year-old centre-back whose impact in the Championship surely guarantees he will not have many more seasons there.

It worked so well, Town went back to Cobham to loan Tino Anjorin in January. He is yet to make his mark but having only just come back from a broken metatarsal and with an in-form side, that is no reason to rush to scathing judgements.

Russell came through the Chelsea system too, picked up on a free when released after a loan at League One Accrington Stanley and put into the B team until January, where the training-ground work paid off and he blossomed in midfield.

Sorba Thomas has impressed for Huddersfield Town this season. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Nicholls was Milton Keynes Dons’ second-choice goalkeeper when they released him but no goalkeeper has more clean sheets in this season’s Championship, and whilst that is about more than just Nicholls, he is a huge part of that.

Thomas was actually signed in January 2021 for a transfer fee but whilst the six-figure sum was a record for Boreham Wood and paid for training gear for their entire academy, it would barely cause a ripple in many Championship boardrooms. Like Turton and Russell, he took off after six months of grounding.

Not every signing has worked – yet. Town have had one goal out of Jordan Rhodes’s second coming, no Championship starts from former loanee Carel Eiting in January. Every club gets transfers wrong, better to do it with frees. That parsimony allowed Huddersfield to keep midfielder O’Brien when Leeds United showed an interest.

Even in 21st Century football, money can only take you so far.

Ludicrous though it was, the booing of Neymar and Lionel Messi during Paris Saint-Germain’s win over Bordeaux – well, you would get upset if your team was only 15 points clear at the top and only won 3-0 – was a reminder that just chucking expensive players at a coach with no thought of how they fit together does not work.

This has been the season where two of the greatest players of all time – Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo – have managed to join new clubs and weaken them. And PSG and Manchester United were some way off where their owners and fans wanted them to be beforehand.

Newcastle United could have thrown their petrodollars at Geordie Galacticos in January but investing in Dan Burn, Matt Targett, Kieran Trippier and Chris Wood is working out well.

Obviously the club that needs to learn from PSG is Hull City. The Tigers have a celebrity owner in Acun Ilicali who bought them too late to properly throw his financial weight around in January, but will surely make up for it when the market reopens.

He would do well to try to be less Championship PSG, more Humberside Huddersfield Town.