If Huddersfield Town can pick up a point against already-promoted Sheffield United tonight, the Terriers will have mathematically avoided relegation from the Championship. It’s been a chaotic journey to get to this point after last season’s play-off final defeat sparked a collapse like no other, with Carlos Corberan and several key players leaving the club.
After Danny Schofield and Mark Fotheringham left the club in the mire, there was only one man they could call. Enter Neil Warnock. He joined after a 3-0 defeat at Stoke City left the Terriers joint-bottom of the Championship with just 28 points from 31 games. Despite a win over a miserable Birmingham City side in his opening game, the chances of Huddersfield’s survival took a kicking over the following weekend.
They lost 4-0 at Burnley. Then Coventry beat them by the same score at the John Smith’s Stadium. A 0-0 draw at Bristol City was followed by a 1-0 defeat at West Brom, and that looked like all she wrote. Even Warnock’s magic couldn’t save this bunch. Four games, one point and zero goals scored had consigned them to their fate, with their next seven fixtures coming against sides fighting to get into the play-offs.
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But the miracle worker began to work his magic.
A draw against Norwich was followed up by three staggering wins, over Millwall, Middlesbrough and Watford. Two of those teams remain in the top six and it is this run of form that has given them a chance. Belief. That’s the word Warnock always comes back to and he was able to give this Huddersfield side, devoid of confidence, the belief that they could complete the great escape.
Points have come at important times since that run. Draws against Blackburn and Sunderland kept the bottom three at bay before an absolutely crucial win at Cardiff. That’s put them on the brink of survival, and it’s all down to the boss who won promotion with them in 1995 and just couldn't resist coming back for ‘one more job’.
He’s done this in similar fashion before, keeping Rotherham United up against the odds in 2016. The Millers were 22nd in the Championship before Warnock embarked on an 11-game unbeaten run that took them clear of danger - eventually surviving by a whopping nine points.
'Miracle worker' Neil Warnock discusses a HUGE three points for his beloved Huddersfield Town 📈💪
“There isn’t much point in asking me if this is my last job! If I can keep us up this year it would be my greatest achievement,” Warnock told The Sportsman while taking in some World Championship snooker at the Crucible last week.
“Bigger than the promotions and Rotherham, because we have played all the top teams and had horrendous fixtures ahead when standing six points adrift. But then next February…you never know. I only work February, March and April these days.
“My wife Sharon and I love Italy and would like to go out there for a few weeks. And if an Italian team came in next February and asked me to save them…now you’re talking. That Como club by the lake – that would do for me. Lovely spot.”
It’s perhaps fitting that the chance to stay up will come against another club that Warnock loves dearly. His boyhood team, Sheffield United. He spent eight years there as manager between 1999 and 2007 and took them into the Premier League, only relegated after West Ham United's Carlos Tevez/Javier Mascherano transfer saga.
With his boyhood club already back in the Premier League, they provide the perfect opposition for Huddersfield to secure second tier survival. Warnock’s back at it again. He might just return again next term for ‘one more year’.
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