Huddersfield Town have made the Championship play-offs for the first time since the magical promotion season of 2016-17. Huddersfield Hub sports editor STEVEN DOWNES looks at the difference between the Terriers team of yesterday and the one in which is fighting to emulate that team today. 

Well, the first place to start is simple and that’s in the dugout. 


Jurgen Klopp with David Wagner

Back in 2016 Town had David Wagner as head coach, an outgoing, passionate German who worked with emotion. Wagner had come from nowhere and created a miracle for a team which had been battling against relegation ever since they had been promoted to the Championship. Appointed in 2015, Wagner had learnt the ins and outs of English football come the promotion campaign. 

Working on the same principles as fellow German and Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, Wagner wanted to bring rock ‘n’ roll football to West Yorkshire, his teams played a gegenpressing style of football, however it was slightly more controlled than Klopp’s all out football. 

For the majority of the 2016-17 season Wagner played a 4-2-3-1 system.

2016 Team

The formation was compact and tight, pressuring teams with a fluid movement. Out of possession Wagner’s side could be outstanding, not giving the opposition a chance to breathe.

Wagner rarely changed his formation or personnel. Lots of the Terriers’ results that season ended in 2-1 victories. Many had emotion playing a big part as last minute wins included games against Derby and Rotherham. 

Feisty games against Leeds United and Sheffield Wednesday also were a point of interest as was a win against the then recently relegated Newcastle United. 

Wagner didn’t hide his tactics, you knew going to games what you’d get. A team that played good football, was intense and put full effort in for 90 minutes. 


Carlos Corberan

Let’s turn to Carlos Corberan, a Spaniard who had learnt his trade under former Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa. Corberan was only 37 at the time of his appointment at Town, again Town fans were perplexed by the choice as the first ever Spanish boss at Town wasn’t really known. 

Unlike Wagner, who played a stable team who were intense and highly emotive, Corberan seems different, instead of playing one system, his teams are tactically fluid even within a game. Players still play with emotion, but it’s not all conquering, battering the door down football. 

Unlike Wagner who saw instant improvement from his side which satisfied the fan base, Corberan’s start was less auspicious, whilst the football was better in parts, results were terrible. Both took over from very English style managers, Wagner replaced Chris Powell and Corberan, Danny Cowley. 

Both improved the style of play from their predecessors. However, the difference between them is clear.

Carlos Corberan formation

Wagner’s all out passionate and intense football just made teams crumble, they couldn’t handle the German’s style of management. Whereas Corberan is more prepared to beat teams at their own game. If someone plays a 4-3-3 formation so will Corberan. 

Corberan’s teams are more adaptable to situations and, incidentally, score more goals and concede less but we’ll come on to the stats later. With that in mind, you’d think people would say Corberan is the better manager? 

However, a huge caveat is that Wagner managed his team in a more difficult Championship. Wagner’s team had to contend with the likes of Norwich, Fulham, Sheffield Wednesday, Newcastle, Brighton, Aston Villa, Leeds and Derby. 

Meanwhile this season the Championship’s quality has not been as strong and whilst Luton have been very commendable as have the likes of Blackpool and Coventry, these sides wouldn’t have been as high if they had competed in 2016. 


Apart from the stalwart that is Jonathan Hogg, there is no other survivor from that 2016 campaign still in the team today. 

The following is just my opinion. 

In 2016 Town loaned goalkeeper Danny Ward from Liverpool. The Welsh international will always be remembered for being a part of that team. However he wasn’t as crucial to that side as current keeper Lee Nicholls has been to this team.

The current Town number one has saved the Terriers countless points this season and has just been announced in the Championship team of the campaign. 

In 2016 Town had two fantastic full-backs in Chris Lowe and Tommy Smith. Both were extremely dependable with Smith being a real source of assists.

This season Harry Toffolo has been equally as good as those two, with former Blackpool player Oli Turton also having a decent campaign.

At centre-back Wagner played Christopher Schindler and Michael Hefele, they are both legends in that team. This time around Corberan can play with three at the back with Tom Lees and Matty Pearson proving a tower of strength and giving the team a foundation. German dependability has been replaced by English steel and determination. 

In 2016 Aaron Mooy ran the midfield alongside Hogg, many fans have said the Australian is the best midfielder ever to play at Town. However, Lewis O’Brien has certainly given him a run for his money this season.

Jonathan Hogg is the only survivor from the 2016-17 team

Looking up top and Danny Ward has done exceptionally well this season. Six years ago it was Nahki Wells scoring the goals. 

There were certainly lots of characters in the dressing room under Wagner, and the same can be said for Corberan. Both campaigns should be warmly remembered by Town fans for the individuals involved and it will be interesting to see if Town do reach the promised land again if the team of 2022 can emulate their 2017 counterparts. 


Here are the stats with the caveat that the 2022 team has two more games to play at the time of writing this article. 


Record: W 25 D 6 L15, P 81, Points Per Game 1.76 

Finished: 5th in Championship

Home Record: W 15 D 2 L 6 P 47 

Away Record: W 10 D 4 L 9

Goals For: 56 (1.22 per game), 

Goals Against: 58 (1.26 per game).  

FA Cup: Lost fifth round to Manchester City

EFL Cup: Lost first round to Shrewsbury Town



Record: W 21 D 13 L 10 P 76 (Points Per Game 1.73 per game), 

Currently: 3rd in Championship

Home Record: W 12 D 6 L 4 P 42

Away Record: W 9 D 7 L 6 P 34

Goals For: 60 (1.36 per game), 

Goals Against: 46 (1.05 per game), 

FA Cup: Lost fifth round to Nottingham Forest

EFL Cup: Lost second round to Everton


Wagner’s team won more games than Corberan’s, but they didn’t draw as many, the German’s side also won more at home, but they also lost more away. Corberan’s side, however, has scored more goals than Wagner’s and conceded far less. 

So which team is greater? Big question. Wagner’s team did something incredible that the majority of fans didn’t think possible or think they would ever see in their lifetime. Wagner was on a budget and Corberan probably had even less cash to play with.

Back in 2016 Wagner spent £1.8m on Schindler. Corberan’s top signing is Duane Holmes who was signed for a reported £750,000. 

Both teams have their own merits and obviously if Town miss out on promotion this season whilst it won’t be under achievement it won’t get the same burning remembrance as Wagner’s team. If Town do win promotion the discussion can certainly continue. 

For fun here is my combined 11.

Combined 11

What’s your view, Town fans?