Danny Cowley has just completed his first full month as Huddersfield manager. He, along with brother Nicky, steered Town clear of the drop zone and went unbeaten for the whole of October in the process - and now they have an award to show for it.
- Click the video above to watch our interview with Danny Cowley
After what he calls a 'whirlwind' start in West Yorkshire, the 41-year-old insists they are keeping their feet on the ground and the objective remains firmly on avoiding the drop down to Sky Bet League One.
The Terriers boss was named Sky Bet Championship Manager of the Month after collecting 11 points from five games and they now find themselves in 18th place and six points clear of Middlesbrough in 22nd.
That is an impressive turnaround considering the duo took the reins with the club in 23rd, having previously failed to win any of their first six matches since returning from the Premier League.
"It’s been good, it’s been a whirlwind," Cowley said in an exclusive interview with Sporting Life, reflecting on his spell so far.
"We are pleased to win the award on behalf of the club, certainly the staff and the players. An incredible amount of work has gone in behind the scenes from the whole group and it is always nice from a manager’s point of view to see the staff and the players have achieved the rewards they deserve.
"For us, the aim has not changed. It’s to get to 50 points. If we get to 50 points and we are able to retain our Championship status – that was the target – if and when we get there we will then be able to redefine our objectives and then we’ll have earned the right to look greater than that.
"Until that point, very much our focus is on keep trying to improve, keep trying to develop the process, keep trying to find ways of adding to the foundations we’ve started."
The Cowleys left Lincoln after three full seasons to replace Jan Siewert in the Town hotseat, with a difficult start against Sheffield Wednesday and promotion contenders West Brom, losing both.
After a draw with Millwall, they recorded back-to-back victories against Stoke and Hull, drawing further matches with Blackburn and Boro before ending the month with three points against Yorkshire rivals Barnsley.
They started November in similar fashion, with a narrow victory against another side aiming for the top six in Brentford.
"It’s been a collective effort," former teacher Cowley continued.
"For us, it was about looking at the first 15 days and auditing the club – speaking to everybody from the tea lady all the way up to the chairman and getting a good idea of what was happening and what was good, and there were many good things that we’ve been happy to continue with.
"Then we looked for areas we thought we could get quick wins and make some changes and get some significant gains and hopefully we’ve been able to do that."
It can be a tough task arresting the slide at a club recently relegated from the Premier League - just ask the likes of Stoke, Sunderland and Portsmouth - but the Cowleys have breathed new life into the club, even adding top-flight title-winning experience in Danny Simpson on a free transfer.
After a difficult 2019 which started with the popular David Wagner leaving, the feel-good factor is finally coming back at the John Smith's Stadium.
Cowley, who told Sporting Life in May that he would only leave Lincoln for the 'perfect opportunity', is pleased with the progress made in such a short space of time.
He added: "It’s hard to gage [the change in atmosphere], because we weren’t here before, but certainly we’ve been really impressed by the people here.
"Football clubs are football clubs aren’t they, it’s bricks and mortar – it’s always the people that make the club and to get to know the staff, the players and most importantly the supporters has been a privilege.
"Once you understand the club and the DNA of the club, you are better able to make some decisions as to what your value set is, what the processes are and how you think you can come together and achieve some success.
"We’ve been pleased with the results and outcomes, certainly in terms of the processes which is how we always judge ourselves. We are certainly a work in progress and we work really hard on the training pitch and in the video room to try and better understand our performances first and foremost, then try to add to it.
"Certainly, we have made improvements without the ball, in the defensive aspect of our game, and certainly we are still working towards trying to get to a place where - I think at the moment we are out-running, out-working and out-fighting - eventually we can out-play them as well."
Keep an eye on Sporting Life's football section in the coming weeks for more from our exclusive chat with Danny Cowley - including his management and impressive rise through the system and a quiz on our Twitter about his career so far...
Latest Huddersfield odds (via Sky Bet)
- Karlan Grant top Championship goalscorer - 6/1
- Top six finish - 20/1
- Top half finish - 10/3
- Relegation - 7/2
Correct as of 1900 BST on 07/11/19
Why Cowley received the award
Danny Wilson, who chairs the Sky Bet Manager of the Month judging panel, said: “Danny Cowley has certainly turned the Terriers’ fortunes around since his arrival in September.
“Sitting with only two points in early October and entrenched in the bottom three of the Championship, things looked rather gloomy, but Danny and his team have instilled confidence and discipline to the squad and an 11 point return took them out of the relegation places.
“There’s still a long way to go, but the green shoots are there to be seen and there’s an onwards and upwards mentality from the Huddersfield faithful.”
Sky Sports EFL pundit Don Goodman said: “The Cowley brothers’ record of sustained success continues at Huddersfield, but should we really be surprised?
“From Concord Rangers to Braintree and Lincoln, they have improved performances, consistency of results and previous seasons’ league positions wherever they have managed.
“The man management skills and dedication that the pair bring will be a surprise to no-one but what may surprise some, is the speed in which they’ve instigated the turnaround of fortunes at Huddersfield, taking them from candidates for relegation to mid table in just over a month.”
Huddersfield's next six fixtures
- Preston (a)
- Birmingham (h)
- Swansea (h)
- Bristol City (a)
- Leeds (h)
- Charlton (a)