Huddersfield Town are currently in free fall in the Championship table, and have recently suffered a major drop off in form that has seen them winless since the start of the new year.
Their winless start to 2021 has seen them slip down to 18th in the the league table, with The Terriers quickly becoming embroiled in a relegation fight.
The Terriers had a positive start to life under Spanish head coach Carlos Corberan, and it initially seemed as if the West Yorkshire side were on course for a solid season, without any threat of relegation.
The fortunes at the John Smith’s Stadium have changed in recent times however, with the Terriers enduring a miserable run of form.
Perhaps the main reason for The Terriers’ collapse has been their shocking defensive record, with only bottom of the table Wycombe Wanderers conceding more goals than Huddersfield so far this campaign.
So what has caused the defensive issues that are quickly embroiling Huddersfield Town in a relegation scrap?
Arguably the main root of Huddersfield’s problems at the back so far this season has been due the lack of consistency in Carlos Corberan’s team selection.
The Spaniard has selected a handful of different partnerships so far this season due to injuries and squad rotation, and while this isn’t completely Corberan’s fault, there have been occasions this season where he could have stayed with the same partnership at centre back but has opted to switch.
Too many options?
Huddersfield currently have seven centre backs in their senior squad alongside the versatile defensive midfiedler Alex Vallejo who has played at centre back on occasions for them this season. While some of these players such as Christopher Schindler and Richard Stearman have spent the majority of the season on the sidelines, alongside Tommy Elphick who has been injured all season, it still seems like too many options.
When another first team option in Rarmarni Edmonds-Green also became injured just before January, Huddersfield opted to dip in to the transfer market with the questionable signing of Richard Keogh, as opposed to rewarding youngster Romoney Crichlow with his chance in the team, or even starting the versatile Alex Vallejo in the centre back role. The signing of Keogh felt unnecessary, and only added more depth to an already congested position.
Another reason behind the Terriers’ defensive disaster could be due to the uncertain futures of a handful of their defenders.
Richard Keogh, Christopher Schindler, Tommy Elphick and Richard Stearman are all out of contract in the summer, and it’s unclear whether any will stay at the John Smith’s Stadium beyond the summer.
To summarise, the main reason for Huddersfield Town’s defensive struggles has been having far too many players/partnerships this season.
While in the Championship it’s critical to have squad depth, the Terriers have overdone it, and the signing of Keogh only furthers this.
When you also take in to account the uncertain futures of some of their defenders it really doesn’t become a surprise that Huddersfield are struggling so much defensively, with a complete lack of clarity over the long term future of a handful of their defenders.
While their full backs Pipa and Harry Toffolo have been impressive for the Terriers so far this season, only Naby Sarr has featured frequently at centre back. If Huddersfield are to ensure they don’t get dragged in to a relegation fight, they must ensure they are decisive when they select their centre back partnership between now and the end of the campaign.