Danny and Nicky Cowley discussed a wide range of topics as Sky Sports joined the Huddersfield management team at home.
Jonathan Oakes and Andy Hinchcliffe spoke to the duo about scouting overseas, their footballing philosophy and much, much more.
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On their tenure at the club so far...
Danny: "We had one point after nine games and it's been a tough but challenging job since. Nicky and I took the role because we saw the learning opportunity in working at Championship level. The opportunity to manage a group with all different cultures has been interesting, challenging and rewarding in equal measure. Also, managing a team at the bottom of the division has been a new experience as well.
"I feel we were in a good place going into the situation that we are currently in. We were quite busy in the January transfer window and able to get more of a balance to the squad, which has certainly helped. We felt as though we had a good rhythm too, with two good performances against Bristol City and then Charlton, which took us into the Leeds game - our last game. Leeds played very well against us and were worthy winners but we learned a lot and felt we were moving in the right direction for the final nine games."
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Nicky: "We had never exposed ourselves to stepping into a club during the season, which means you put yourselves in a position where you have to form new relationships with members of staff and new working relationships with the players and that was really interesting. Once we saw the challenge was to keep Huddersfield in the division, that was a challenge that we embraced and were looking forward to taking. We are in a strange position right now, with nine games left of the season and we still have not retained our status. But we are working towards that and that is our main objective."
On the Cowley philosophy…
Danny: "One of the qualities we look for in players is to be coachable. One of the key parts of our environment is around learning and we want people to be humble enough to always want to learn and always try to improve. A lot of our philosophy is around having core values, which are absolutely non-negotiable and really important to us, like hard work, enthusiasm, humility and discipline. For us, it's about player empowerment. We know it's their game and, when they step over the white line, they are going to make hundreds of decisions per game and we try to empower them to try to make the right decisions within the framework that we are trying to play in. We always look at the group we have and try to find the best way of playing with the players at our disposal."
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Nicky: "We have come from non-league and developed through League One and League Two so we have had to use different styles at different times depending on the types of players that we actually have at our disposal at the time. I'm always a great believer in coming into the club and working out where all the strengths are and understanding that there are always going to be things you want to improve as well.
"Once you are in a position where, as a team of coaches, you know what the strengths of the team are, that's when you really start to embed your style. But that cannot really start happening until you have made connections with players on a human level because it's not until they realise you are a good person, with good values, morals and principles that they maybe want to buy into some of the ideas you might have."
On scouting overseas…
Danny: "We have some fantastic software available where, pretty much at the click of a button, we can watch football in any country across the world. We are trying to learn about the Bundesliga at the moment because we have got three German boys within our squad who have fantastic attitudes, brilliant work ethics and totally fit within our value set. We look at that league and there are a lot of similarities between that level and the Championship, so it's a good league to try and learn a little bit more about.
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"We have spent a good period of each day in lockdown trying to do recruitment work because when you look at the successful teams that we have had, I would say recruitment is about 80 per cent of the job, but you do not always in season because of the operational nature of a game on Saturday and a game on Tuesday. What we are always trying to do is minimise the risk.
On Danny being manager, Nicky the assistant...
Nicky: "I just think it's the natural journey that our lives have taken us on. I always like to point out that I am three years younger than Danny, although it used to show more because I have got a few greys coming in now! As a consequence of that, Danny became manager at Concord Rangers after retiring early due to injury while I was still playing and we then spent eight great seasons there.
"During the latter years I was player-coach and then I became Danny's assistant. We have a lot of trust, we have very close and we have got the type of relationship where we are able to talk things over a hundred times to try and find the solution. It's really good when you have someone to work with like that."