Huddersfield Town v Cardiff City - Carlos Corberan relishing the challenge

A PROUD individual who is doing it tough at the moment, the emotion was briefly prevalent in the sentiments of Huddersfield Town head coach Carlos Corberan when questioned about the importance of this evening’s game.

Huddersfield Town manager Carlos Corberan. Picture: PA

When asked by The Yorkshire Post if beating in-form Cardiff City would constitute the biggest result in another hard season thus far for Town, Corberan candidly opened up for a few seconds, unprovoked.

“It will be one of the most important things in my life. So you imagine how important it is for me,” he said.

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That Corberan is a highly-talented young coach is beyond doubt. Elements of that have been witnessed periodically.

Against Watford, QPR and Sheffield Wednesday at home, for instance, which showed just why the club invested much time and energy to bring him to the club from Leeds United last July.

But in the Championship, an unpredictable league at the best of times and a brutal, hard and unforgiving one at its worst, it can shred reputations just as quickly as they are built up.

When teams hit a bad run which Huddersfield unquestionably are in the midsts of, there is little clemency.

Town recently beat promotion-chasing Swansea 4-1, but successive defeats to Derby and Preston afforded them no after-glow or respite for Corberan.

His side have won just once in 12 league matches in 2021 and the fixture calendar now pits them against a team managed by someone who has seen everything that the Championship has had to offer and not just survived but prospered in Mick McCarthy.

Fittingly, the 62-year-old is back on home turf in Yorkshire tonight as he joins the exclusive club of managers who have taken charge of 1,000 games.

His Cardiff side are unbeaten in 10 matches since he joined in January and come to Huddersfield on the back of a 4-0 midweek victory over Derby.

The Welsh outfit have swapped a potential relegation fight for a promotion tilt and are blazing a trail. By contrast, Corberan is fighting fires with Town down on numbers and results.

The Spaniard is learning plenty in adversity and if he can negotiate a passage to safety with Huddersfield, there is a school of thought to suggest that better times might just be on the horizon next season as he builds a team truly in his own image.

But it is all about getting there with Corberan mindful that substance and not style – points and not perfection – is what it is about in the here and now.

Adamant he has learned a great deal this season already and will ultimately be better for it as a coach in the long run, he commented: “No doubts. Every time you meet challenges with a lot of importance, you accommodate a level of experience which you can always use in your career.

“This is one challenge I have in front of me and I have all the ambition and hunger to face this.

“We know how important every result is and the Championship is a hard and tough competition with the quality of the teams and the players.

“It is relentless, especially this year when the season is shorter and there is the same amount of games. But it is a nice competition.”

Just as Corberan is under pressure as Town hover just above the relegation zone and are too close to it for comfort, so his players are facing a character examination and must find strength from within to cope with a difficult situation with Town supporters increasingly restless at the club’s current predicament.

As a Town fan, goalkeeper Ryan Schofield understands the sense of angst more than most with his hometown club enduring their third fraught season in a row.

Schofield, 21, said: “From the outside, fans are entitled to their own opinion. From the stadium, we would hear them shouting from the seats.

“With it (criticism) being on social media, they are entitled to their opinion. I have been under a bit of scrutiny with the fans, but none have taken it too far.

“I was sat in the stands five or six years ago and probably doing the same thing. It is part and parcel of football. As a local lad and fan, it is difficult. If you want to take the praise, you have to take the stick as well. It is not one or the other, it is both.”

Schofield’s experiences at Notts County in their demotion from the EFL in 2018-19 probably toughened him up in that regard and intensifies his desire to avoid another relegation in the process.

He added: “We have got to be strong individuals. We all know what we want to achieve, especially me as a fan. It is not something I want to be part of.

“For me, my family and everyone around Huddersfield, the football club is part of a big community here and we all want to stay in the Championship.”

Last six games: Huddersfield LLWLLD; Cardiff WWWWDW.

Referee: T Robinson (West Sussex).

Last time: Huddersfield 0 Cardiff 3, February 12, 2020; Championship.

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