THE contrast in moods at the start of the New Year could not be more stark for the Chalobah brothers.
While younger sibling Trevoh is doing it tough at Huddersfield Town, his big brother Nathaniel is playing his part in what has all the makings of a remarkable escapology act at Premier League side Watford.
A stellar five-match unbeaten league sequence, incorporating fine victories over Manchester United, Aston Villa, Wolves and Bournemouth and a hard-fought point at Sheffield United has provided a transfusion of confidence for Nigel Pearson’s Hornets, who are now out of the top-flight relegation zone.
Just a month ago, the Hertfordshire club were effectively seven points adrift of safety after a 2-0 loss at Liverpool in Pearson’s first game in charge.
Huddersfield, who are being linked with a move for Leicester City midfielder Andy King, may have the security of presently being outside of the bottom three in the Championship, but they are nervously looking over their shoulders after a dispiriting start to the New Year, encompassing painful defeats to relegation rivals Barnsley and Stoke City.
Comparatively speaking, it remains early days for both clubs ahead of their outcome to the season. The devout hope of the Chalobah boys is that they will both have reason to smile after their respective clubs avoid the ignominy of relegation from their respective divisions in May.
The banter and wise-cracks may not have been flying around as much of late, but their mutual desire for each other to do well endures.
After all, families look after their own and watch each other’s backs – even if words of tough love are often spoken.
Chalobah junior, 20, who joined the Terriers on a season-long loan from Chelsea in August, said: “For him (Nathaniel), it is the same. It is probably his first time in this situation.
“But, hopefully, he will do well as well and keep them up.
“We are always talking. Especially with him playing in the new position I am playing in, he is always talking to me and sending me video clips and I am always watching his game to help me.
“He and my dad are my biggest critics. You need that as a player – someone to tell you the truth. You need that to improve.
“I have always taken constructive criticism as a player and never let it get to me. No matter what anybody says. It is just taking it as a positive to improve.”
For the Town loan midfielder, it is the second successive campaign that he has been pitted into a difficult situation after being part of an Ipswich side who endured a torrid 2018-19 which ended in the Suffolk outfit’s relegation – and third-tier football for the first time since 1957.
In the process, it provides extra motivation for Chalobah in his quest to avoid another unwanted addition on his footballing CV. He continued: “Obviously going on loan, it is not what you want.
“But it is always going to happen at some point in your career, no matter what age you are.
“It happens and it is important to learn from it to help me whoever I play for next in my career.
“I can hopefully look back and say: ‘this is a learning curve’ and it helped me as a player.
“I played a lot of games last season and going on loan was good from my point of view and that is what I wanted to do. But collectively, it was not a good season for us.
“That is what I want to change here and keep us up and keep fighting for the lads.
“I think we can achieve that and we have got the players in the squad to achieve that.
“Football is always going to be about ups and downs and a learning curve. For me, it is about keeping my head straight and focused and helping the team.”
Without the leadership qualities of experienced midfield man Jonathan Hogg, who serves the second game of a two-match ban at home to Brentford this weekend, Town toiled in his absence and lacked drive and direction on derby day against Barnsley at Oakwell on Saturday.
It proved a bitterly disappointing afternoon, with the club’s big 4,436 travelling contingent making their feelings known, particularly at half-time.
It was something that Chalobah and his team-mates had to take squarely on the chin, with the focus now being on providing a fitting response – without the ‘comfort blanket’ of Hogg being around – against the high-flying Bees on Saturday.
The occasion promises to be one when a fair bit will be learned about those in blue and white.
Chalobah said: “Everyone knows how much of a miss that Hoggy is.
“In the game that he missed when he was injured, you could see what we were lacking – the energy he brings to the side, the tacking and heading – just the work-rate.
“He is a massive influence to us players. When he is not here, we have got to step up more as a team. There are a lot of young players in the team and it is important we step up.”