Huddersfield Town have been hurting since Tuesday. They are fortunate they will get a chance to do something about it this afternoon.
To be beaten 7-0 at Norwich City, the club’s biggest defeat since the infamous 10-1 reverse to Manchester City in 1987, has been a shock to the system.
“It hurts,” says midfielder Juninho Bacuna. “It was disappointing we let the team down and the fans down. As footballers it’s not nice to do that.
“We’ve got to change the feelings.”
A win today at home to Rotherham United would certainly do that, which is why they cannot wallow in self-pity.
Three points this afternoon would put the Millers 11 points behind, and make their three games in hand a little bit more academic. Championship safety would certainly not be assured, but things would be looking a lot more promising. What started as a bad week for Paul Warne’s side by losing 3-0 to bottom-placed Wycombe Wanderers would become a much worse one.
If Town lose,the gap is down to five, and those extra matches for the chasers look very useful indeed.
Before it even gets to that, Bacuna’s response is the normal one of a footballer who has just taken a sound beating. He wants to restore some pride.
“Everyone has their pride as footballers and a club,” he says.
“We know we are a big club and we need to show that. We need to show we care about the club and the fans.
“We know we can do better than this. We have shown it against Norwich at home. Of course it’s anger because as a player you do not want to lose 7-0.”
Bacuna might only be 23 but ending the game wearing the captain’s armband at full-time shows the responsibility he feels in this young team.
“I’m still only 23, I’m still a young guy, but I’m one of the more senior players in the team,” he points out.
“I try to be a leader for the guys and help the young guys who are a more similar age but are just coming through. I’m more experienced in the game and I can help them. It’s good to be that guy, it makes me more confident in the games.”
Carlos Corberan is a young coach too, but not so young that he has not been on the wrong end of a chastening defeat before. There is, though, only so much you can learn from each one, he believes.
“In every level it’s different,” he argues. “With Leeds Under-23s (the last team he coached) we had one important defeat we suffered a lot from and it’s important to find a reaction.
“I have seen many defeats in important games but I don’t talk about this (to the players) because every time is different. Just because the situation happened to other teams we are not just going to accept it will happen the same way with us.
“These things happen in football. Southampton suffered a result like that this season, for example, and they faced the problem. We need to do the same, go into the next game and try to have a high level of mentality and determination and make people forget quickly that result.
“We cannot forget it ourselves, it is always going to be part of us, but it is important to take the focus away because we know for us, for our people, for the club, for everyone, when you are watching your team suffering a defeat like that, it’s hard.”
The good news for Huddersfield is that today’s game, and Tuesday’s against Bournemouth, are both at home, where two thirds of their points this season have come.
“We’re more confident at home, we play our style at home and compete hard. I think the games coming up are the most important ones now and we need to show that for the fans and the club,” says Bacuna.
“We try every game to play our style and dominate the games and possession, to create chances but it’s always different playing home or away.
“The away games haven’t gone our way this season and we need to deal with it and show we can also win away.”
Now, though, the only thing that matters is beating Rotherham.
“I don’t think it’s going to be easy at home but we know the conditions, we know our pitch and especially we know how important the game is for us, for the table, for our honour and for everything related to the game,” says Corberan.
Ryan Schofield, Pipa and Alex Vallejo all trained yesterday in the hope of proving their fitness. Rolando Aarons and Carel Eiting trained too, and whilst they will probably need more work having been out for a longer period of time, it does at least raise hope they will be seen during the final six matches of 2020-21.
Less positive was the news on striker Oumar Niasse, who only joined on March 26, but has already been ruled out for the season. That is particularly significant because the former Everton and Hull City only joined on a deal until the end of the campaign.
The 30-year-old injured his groin in the build-up towards a first training game to try to prove his fitness.
“The scan was on Tuesday and the result was not positive,” said Corberan.
“He will be around eight weeks to recover so we don’t expect to have him from now until the end of the season.
“In the preparation he was doing for the training game we were using to make him ready for the team he suffered an injury and we need to just keep going with the options right now, and to help him to have a good, fast recovery because he’s part of our squad even if he cannot play the games.”
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