Huddersfield Town: ‘Never give in’ as Terriers take leaf out of Fergie playbook

WHEN the euphoria finally died down at the John Smith’s Stadium after Huddersfield Town secured victory from the jaws of defeat in magnificent fashion against their nemesis in Cardiff City, minds might have drifted back to February 2017.

It was a stellar month in David Wagner’s Championship joyride of 2016-17. Leeds United and promotion rivals Brighton were beaten in head-turning fashion on home soil and there was another result that entered into Terriers folklore, although not necessarily with the same fanfare.

Trailing 2-1 going into the final quarter of their Yorkshire derby at Rotherham United on Valentine’s Day, Town produced a stunning late comeback to triumph thanks to goals from Elias Kachunga and a dramatic stoppage-time winner from Tommy Smith.

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Cue pandemonium in the away end at the AESSEAL New York Stadium as Terriers fans’ belief that something special might just be happening in that season to savour was fortified.

Huddersfield Town are now unbeaten in 16 games. Picture: Tony Johnson

Tuesday was a similar feeling against visiting Cardiff – with Kachunga, who carried out the half-time draw at his old club – fittingly in attendance.

Losing 1-0 to City, Town dug deep and chiselled out a priceless win on a night when their performance, for large parts, was as wretched as the weather conditions.

Crucially, the Terriers – as with Wagner’s class that February – never gave in.

It just so happens to be the title of a film about the life of arguably the greatest manager of all in Sir Alex Ferguson, with his side’s finest hour in going from despair to joy in a matter of a few minutes at the end of their 1999 Champions League final against Bayern Munich being referenced after the game by Carlos Corberan.

Carlos Corberán, head coach of Huddersfield Town. Picture: John Early/Getty Images

Usually quite restrained in his body language following matches, the unadulterated pride on the face of Corberan as he walked on the pitch in the wind and rain at the final whistle spoke volumes.

The Spaniard may talk – and even obsess – about the finer tactical and technical nuances of football that pass many supporters by.

But he also knows that one of the fundamental things in football is to play the game with your heart as well as your head.

Corberan, whose side followed up a marvellous weekend win at Fulham with another precious moment in their season and now 16 matches unbeaten, said: “The special point for me was the mentality that you need to have.

“Never give in. I remember the commentary of Ferguson talking about this and it talks about football and life. You can never give up in any single moment – when the things are working well or when things are not working how you want them to work.

“This will continue to be very important in every single game.

“I feel pleased to see the players keep fighting until the end. Maybe because of the rain, wind and conditions, it gives you more of a core spirit when you are near the last minute and losing the game.

“It is important not to accept the defeat and try and go for the result that you want to have. It was the best point I saw in the team.

“It is the mentality every team needs to have.

“The togetherness and quality of spirit has to help us and is one of our strengths. It’s the most important for the team. Everyone is running for the team and everyone who is not playing is supporting the team.”

After Josh Koroma’s 88th-minute equaliser to cancel out Tommy Doyle’s opener, it was somewhat apt that the winner in the sixth minute of stoppage-time came from Jon Russell.

Enjoying his place in the sun, the 20-year-old midfielder displayed deft footwork and a very presentable ‘Cruyff turn’ to deliver a stellar moment in the campaign of Town, who consolidated their place in the top-six of the division.

In the process, Russell was provided with karma after his recent ‘goal’ against Sheffield United was harshly ruled out in the club’s previous home game.

Russell, who has started the club’s last four matches, said: “They got a goal, but we just kept digging deep and eventually got the win. We are over the moon.

“It was my first allowed goal and I am super-happy. It’s definitely worth the wait; scoring the winner is an incredible feeling.

“You cannot panic in football and we have just got to relax and know what we are good at and keep doing that.

“In training, we work hard and in football, you cannot give up at all and as a team, we understand we have just got to keep grafting and going to get the results.

“The coach (Corberan) also talks to us about being humble and it is a good thing to do as you cannot get too ahead of yourselves.

“You have just got to focus on what you are good at and hopefully, the results come your way.

“We need to keep our foot on the gas and be confident in ourselves and personally, I need to understand the game more to apply it into my game going forwards.”