Huddersfield Town had a season to remember but it wasn’t the ending we were all hoping for. Having finished third in the regular Championship season the Terriers progressed to the play-off final where they were beaten 1-0 by Nottingham Forest in controversial circumstances.
Huddersfield Hub sports editor STEVEN DOWNES followed Town throughout the season with a monthly round-up and now, as the dust settles on a memorable campaign, he offers his thoughts on 2021-22 and looks forward to what the summer may hold.
Much has been said and written about the play-off final and what could have been, so I will quickly give my thoughts – and move on!
Town, in my opinion, didn’t quite turn up on the day. We didn’t see the brash confidence we have seen in many games this season. Neither side played well with the Tricky Trees being the better team in the first half and the Terriers in the second.
It was harsh on Levi Colwill to score an own goal which turned out to be the only goal of the game. He didn’t deserve that after a great season.
However, the young Chelsea loanee is a strong character and the experience will stand him in good stead. He will surely go on to play for his country and can hold his head up high despite the disappointment.
The biggest controversy came in the second half where Huddersfield should have been given two stonewall penalties. The first penalty appeal was waved away when retiring referee Jon Moss booked Harry Toffolo for diving. The Town left-back was clearly clipped by Jack Colback. Even after the game the Forest player admitted he got away with one.
It was the first ever play-off final where VAR technology was being used and Moss’s decision was backed VAR referee Paul Tierney and the decision stood. It was a decision that was, quite frankly, ridiculous and could have been seen from space.
The second decision wasn’t even reviewed by VAR. A foul on Lewis O’Brien, this decision not to review was against protocol according to various well respected former referees, but again Forest were thrown a lifeline.
Town have asked for an explanation from refereeing bosses over the penalty calls, which they believe could have cost them a cool £200 million. However, despite the club asking the question, nothing will come from it because – as we all know – everyone outside Huddersfield wanted Forest to be promoted…
Anyway, now I’ve got that off my chest, we move on. Despite Wembley’s disappointment the players can hold their head up high as they have had a magnificent season.
They have also played a major part in reconnecting the fan base with the club which should be praised. We may not celebrate this season in years to come because of the last act, however I think that would be a great injustice to what this squad has achieved. This is a squad, let’s remember, that was assembled from free transfers and loans and had an estimated value of no more than £3 million.
So a little note to Luton boss Nathan Jones who said after our play-off semi final against them that we had a squad full of Premier League experience and spent millions on our squad. Well, you are factually incorrect.
Town last week revealed their retained list and whilst there weren’t many surprises I will give you my thoughts.
Contractual option taken for 2022-23
I am pleased we have taken the option on Toffolo’s contract although I’d love him to sign a new deal. He is a huge player for us and is a quality player too.
Josh Koroma has had an in and out year and despite having a good season in 2020-21 he needs to recapture that form next year. It will be a big season for the former Leyton Orient man.
No surprises in this list although there are some sad departures. Naby Sarr has been a fantastic player for us and an even better ambassador for the club. Boss Carlos Corberan obviously believes he can find someone who has that bit better quality in the transfer window.
Return to parent club after loan
These three loan players have either played big minutes this season or had quality moments. Colwill’s last minute winner against Sheffield United should never be forgotten. I doubt we’ll get him back on loan next season unfortunately.
Tino Anjorin has had flashes of brilliant flair and skill so I would like to see him back next season with a full pre-season under his belt.
Danel Sinani has played the most minutes out of the three. While he scored some important goals this season I don’t think he’s worth the near £1 million asking price.
Already under contract in 2022-23
It’s good to see all these players are still contracted to us.
Rarmani Edmonds-Green, or REG for short, has had a magical season on loan at League One club Rotherham United. The Millers will face Town next season as they won promotion to the Championship. REG has been at the club since being a teenager and now I think it’s time the 23-year-old became truly a part of our squad.
REG played 38 times last season and as well as winning promotion with the club they also won the Papa John’s Trophy. I believe REG can make the step up and become a regular starter in our squad taking the place of Naby Sarr in a back three.
Another player who is staying and has been out on loan is Kian Harratt. Having joined Port Vale for the second half of the season, Harratt made 19 league appearances, scoring three goals in the process. He also bagged a goal in the League Two play-off final as they beat Mansfield Town 3-0.
Harratt, 19, is an exciting talent to come out of the Town academy and he’s quickly been snapped up on loan by Mark Hughes at Bradford City. The former Manchester United and Wales striker paid Harratt a huge compliment when he told the youngster he reminded him a bit of himself.
While I would have liked Harratt back at the club coming off the bench as an impact player, his development could be accelerated massively with Hughes’ influence.
Another striker to earn promotion whilst on loan was Kieran Phillips. He made 11 appearances for Exeter in the second half of the season as they finished runners-up in League Two.
A number of other players stepped out for Football League and non-league sides which points to the fact that the club’s academy system is working. The next hurdle is to transition these players into being first team regulars for Huddersfield Town.
Going to off-field matters, one change which has already happened is head of recruitment Josh Marsh has joined Swansea City. He’s been at the club since 2016 and was criticised when Premier League recruitment went so badly wrong but he has to be praised for this season’s magnificent recruitment process.
And finally, it seems, the protracted ‘takeover’ of the club is all but completed as former owner Dean Hoyle has re-acquired the 75% shareholding he sold to Phil Hodgkinson.
Hodgkinson has to be thanked for his steadying of the ship after the Premier League relegation and must be commended, along with Leigh Bromby, for his backing of Carlos Corberan.
In conclusion, this season has been a special one and one we should be proud to remember. However, football never stands still and can we build in these foundations? Only time will tell.
Hopefully, we can resist offers to sell the likes of Lewis O’Brien – although he’ll have his price of course – and keep the bulk of the squad together. Then we need to add some quality signings and look to progress some of our younger players.
At the beginning of the season I wasn’t sure of the plan, I wasn’t sure about Carlos, I still had reservations over the recruitment process and there were still huge questions about the ownership.
Looking back I believe this last six years of Huddersfield Town has been a story in itself, a mini series. Starting with David Wagner and ending with the penalties that never were against Notts Forest. We have our club back and it feels like we have a blank canvas to work from again.
It will be interesting to see how the next chapter turns out but for this season we’ll close the book and enjoy the summer. Oh, the new season kicks off on July 30. Not long to wait!