Huddersfield Town v Birmingham City: Terriers are heading back to the future

HUDDERSFIELD TOWN’S position in the Championship play-off pack may have surprised many observers, but it is definitely no fluke.

That is the unequivocal message from midfielder Duane Holmes, with the Terriers seeking to inject further momentum into their very encouraging start to 2021-22 at home to Birmingham tonight.

Spirit, togetherness, organisation and fitness have all played their part in an uplifting opening for Town, who were forced to scramble around to reach the traditional safety threshold of 50 points in both 2019-20 and 2020-21.

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As it stands, Huddersfield have 20 points from just 12 games this term and by way of a contrast, it took them until December 5 to pass the 20-point mark last season.

On target: Huddersfield Town's Duane Holmes celebrates scoring his side's second goal during the Championship match at the John Smith's Stadium. Picture: PA

It has also been an opening where contributions have arrived at both ends of the pitch – with Holmes becoming the 12th different player to score for the club at league level last weekend.

That is something which provided a further illustration of just why’s Town’s rise is worthy of high praise and respect.

The fact that their players are now fully attuned to the training ground demands of head coach Carlos Corberan, whose sessions have all the intensity of a match-day, and are adaptable on the pitch is also significant.

Holmes, one of five Yorkshiremen to start Saturday’s win over White Rose rivals Hull City, said: “It is definitely not a fluke and a consequence of what we do on the training ground day in, day out and how hard we work. We are looking to finish as high as we can and know that only hard work gets us there.

“I would put the start down to good coaching, hard work and good players. I have improved as a player 100 per cent and I have learned a lot in my eight months here and I just want to keep improving every day.”

Camaraderie, resolve and an unstinting work ethic – alongside the obvious presence of some talented players – also played their part in Town’s halcyon era under David Wagner, of course.

While nobody is bold enough to suggest that the present-day Terriers will follow the example of the feted class of 2016-17 at such an early stage of a season, it is undeniable that, in many respects, the club are going back to the future.

Much emphasis has been placed on recruiting good characters who are happy in each other’s company off the pitch just as much as they are on it, with the togetherness of the dressing room during the high-yield Wagner years being a striking facet in that success story.

Holmes added: “Ours is a really tight-knit group. In the international break, we had a team meal with all the families and these things are organised by us and we want to keep everyone as close together as possible.

“I think it really helps on the pitch and you want to work harder for each other. It helps massively when everyone in the dressing room gets on.

“A massive thing for us is that everyone knows what we are about as a club and everyone in the dressing room has bought into what we are trying to do as a club and how we want to be and play and want people to remember us by.

“I think it is starting to show on the pitch. We are a hard-working, honest group of lads who just want to do well.

“It is not a coincidence we’re in our position. We are a good team and will do everything we can to stay up there.”

Alex Vallejo (knee) is out for an additional two weeks, but Matty Pearson has recovered from a stomach virus and is available to face Blues, who have drawn their last five games at Huddersfield, which have all ended 1-1.

Last six games: Huddersfield WLLWDW; Birmingham LLDLLL.

Referee: A Woolmer (Northants).

Last time: Huddersfield 1 Birmingham 1, March 6, 2021; Championship.