Huddersfield Town will be making life harder for themselves at home to Nottingham Forest today. Manager Danny Cowley says he has no choice but to stick to his principles.
The Terriers’ treatment room is horrendously overcrowded and while Cowley is hopeful of having “one or two” players back from injury, he said the same last week and was disappointed.
You might think it would be all hands to the pump, but that is not the case.
Terence Kongolo, Adama Diakhaby and Isaac Mbenza have been training at Canalside all week but have more than likely played their last games for the club, unless they can somehow outlast Cowley.
“For us the stance is clear. We have values that we feel are very, very important and we want to live by every day,” says Cowley. “If people can’t live within those values, you have decisions to make and you have to stand for something. I can talk about values and what we stand for – work ethic, determination, relentless drive, respect, discipline, humility – they’re just words unless you live by them.
“You have to have rules, boundaries and sanctions in place so you protect those values because what are you, what do you stand for if you don’t have them?
They’re all available and good players in their own rights, and from what I’ve been told there is good interest in all of them.Danny Cowley
“This is the decision we’ve made. There’s some pain that goes with those decisions, like any tough decision, but for me they (his values) mean a lot. They’ve got me to this point and I know if we live by those values and are committed to this cause, this football club will get through this difficult moment together.
“It’s really hard to do it on my own.”
Kongolo and Diakhaby joined for a combined fee of around £27m as Huddersfield looked to kick on after escaping Premier League relegation in the summer of 2018. At around £11.5m, Mbenza was comfortably the Terriers’ most extravagant purchase of last summer, but his only Championship start was in August. Mbenza has not featured since October 1, while Kongolo and Diakhaby have been outcasts since last month’s 5-2 defeat at Bristol City.
Cowley is hopeful of moving the trio on in the new year, and will need to as he has been asked to bring down his budget. He is being careful not to run down their valuations too much, playing them in a behind-closed-doors game against Brentford on Thursday.
“They’re all available and good players in their own rights, and from what I’ve been told there is good interest in all of them,” he said.
“Transfers in and out are always three parties and it’s got to be right for all parties. They’re players who will want to play.
“It’s very important we provide them with the very best provision we can, cater for their needs, train them as they would be trained if they were available for selection because we want to put them in the best possible position to tackle the next stages in their career. We have a responsibility to do that and because our environment is a player-centred one we will always cater for everybody’s need.”
Cowley needs some physically robust additions to avoid the problems he is encountering at the moment, but will not just be looking to those with Football League miles on the clock in his first transfer window as Huddersfield manager.
Liverpool goalkeeper Kamil Grabara and Chelsea midfielder Trevoh Chalobah have added much-needed quality since joining on loan, and Cowley will look to that market again. Grabara’s club-mate, 19-year-old forward Rhian Brewster, has been strongly linked.
“You look at the young players on the periphery of Premier League clubs,” said Cowley, while dodging revealing if the in-demand Brewster, who is in Qatar as part of the Reds’ Club World Cup squad, was on his shopping list. “We are having the necessary conversations with clubs, players and agents.
“The great thing for us as a football club is there are a lot of people who respect Huddersfield Town and hopefully the work we do with young players. We can offer them game-time and hopefully develop them on the pitch as well.
“We’ve had good conversations with a number of Premier League clubs and we’re actively aggressively looking to bring the right players in for this football club.
“It’s not just about them being the right players, it’s the right characters because we’re in the relegation zone.
“We know the type of characters you need when your backs are against the wall and we have to bring in people and players who are fit for purpose.”
Cowley has seen the character he is looking for in the youth ranks. Kian Harrat and Josh Austerfield will be in contention to play after appearing in Wednesday’s 4-0 FA Youth Cup defeat at Chelsea.
“It’s important for Kian and Josh to go back into the youth team and be humble and I got sent a video of them carrying equipment back in at Chelsea on Wednesday,” revealed Cowley.
“There were some other boys without any equipment, so the fact they had water bottles under their arm was a good thing. They’ve been able to show that humility and from what I’ve been told by Leigh Bromby and the academy guys they’ve gone back in and fitted in seamlessly, continuing to drive the standards.”
Visitors Forest will be smarting from last week’s 4-0 defeat at home to Sheffield Wednesday.
“They’ve had an excellent start to the season, a bit more of a difficult period recently,” commented Cowley. “They have goals in them, they like to get control in possession. Certainly with the ball they’re one of the best teams in the division. We must try to find some weaknesses in their organisation. But we have to put a lot of time into ourselves to keep trying to develop a gameplan that works for the players we have available.”