After seven defeats in nine matches and just 69 days in charge Danny Schofield was relieved of his duties as head coach at Huddersfield Town. Huddersfield Hub sports editor STEVEN DOWNES looks over the wreckage and asks what – or who’s – next.
I feel sorry for Danny Schofield. It seems to me it was never destined to end well.
Town took the easy option in promoting Schofield after Carlos Corberan walked out on the club just three weeks before the start of the season.
Dean Hoyle and Leigh Bromby probably hoped for stability and continuity in appointing Schofield and he may, eventually, have been up to the task.
But he lacked the necessary experience, and there were underlying problems in a new-look squad which had just lost its two best players – Lewis O’Brien and Harry Toffolo – to the Premier League.
As a player Schofield represented the club fantastically well, having become a promotion hero in 2004.
His fondness for the club and the link between him and the supporters was very clearly positive. That peaceful and tranquil relationship has been torn to bits and smashed up in just under six weeks.
Clearly a talented coach and well respected in British footballing circles, Schofield had worked under Carlos Corberan, himself a rookie head coach who grew into the job, taking the club from 19th to 3rd in the space of two seasons.
Corberan worked miracles with the resources at his disposal but ultimately failed as Nottingham Forest beat Town in last May’s Championship play-off final, and the downward corkscrew began.
Corberan resigned and departed for Greece in what was one of the most frustrating summers ever being a Town fan.
Schofield was persuaded to stay after the Wembley defeat, turning down an offer of a coaching position from Belgium.
With Corberan’s departure Schofield was thrust into the limelight. Much like our new Prime Minister Liz Truss, Schofield wasn’t the best in front of the media. It wasn’t something he was used to.
Mind you, Bromby and Hoyle didn’t throw him in to the lion’s den to be a polished performer in front of a microphone. He was there for his coaching ability.
I have no doubt Danny Schofield will become a good head coach, however this job was, in hindsight, too big. There was simply too much expectation to create another miracle from a squad shorn of its two stars.
Schofield could have turned the job down, of course, but no ambitious young coach is going to do that. It was worth a punt on both sides. It was a gamble, an experiment, but it’s blown up in everyone’s faces.
The players weren’t playing for him despite what the club says. The tactics were wrong and the squad looks unfit.
The club is run on a budget where it loses £10 million a year. Hoyle wants to lose just £3 million a year. That might be sustainable financially but it’s not competitive in the Championship.
The club can’t expect every young coach to be a miracle worker. The miracle has happened and it was in 2017. Last season it was tantalisingly close again, of course, but Town fell at the last hurdle, it wasn’t backed up and now all momentum and goodwill is lost.
The board must now decide whether it wants to be a competitive Championship club that loses money or a sustainable League 1 or League 2 club. You can’t have both. It isn’t possible.
The names on the bookies’ lists for Schofield’s successor seem like a random bunch. Some are downright unlikely. Sean Dyche.
We all know and wouldn’t be shocked if it’s Chelsea’s under 18s manager who is appointed. An option like that would be very affordable. Sean Dyche? Why would he? And in any case he’d be out of our budget.
The whole summer and start to this season has been shambolic. Fans backed the club snapping up over 18,000 season tickets. We should now ask what has really happened behind the scenes and what is the actual plan?
The bookies’ favourite, of course, is former boss and Miracle Man David Wagner. He’s conveniently out of work (sacked) and he popped up at the West Brom game as a guest of the club at the end of August.
If I was Danny Schofield the last ‘special guest’ I’d want to see making a hero’s return is the club’s most successful modern-day manager. Who just happens to be looking for his next job…
Personally, I’d love nothing more than for Wagner to return, however I’d always caution that you should never go back. A back-to-the-future move for Wagner is fraught with risk. If he fails, he’ll never get ‘special guest’ status again.
On the plus side Wagner would instantly get the fans up and rejuvenate us. This time he’ll want to have more of a say on transfers and that isn’t something Hoyle and Bromby want to happen. That level of control also rules out the likes of Neil Warnock, Dyche and Alex Neil, imo. Warnock, incidentally, brings his ‘an evening with’ show to Huddersfield Town Hall next Friday. Should be fun!
An interesting name in the frame is Duncan Ferguson. The fiery Scott has now left his beloved Everton to look for a new challenge.
I believe he could come here and do well. He’s a passionate manager who would give his all. Yes, the football wouldn’t be pretty but it’s not pretty football we need, it’s results.
We are sat second bottom of the Championship on four points and currently five adrift of safety. This next appointment could decide the club’s future for years to come.
Hoyle once said he wouldn’t let us sleepwalk into relegation. Well, he’s had the alarm call and fired Schofield. Now he has to put a new plan in place that will give us a fighting chance.