CARLOS CORBERAN is sitting in his office speaking passionately about managing Huddersfield.
He is one of the most animated coaches I’ve spoken to.
Only Paolo Di Canio beats him in my personal list — although Antonio Conte did once sing to me in Los Angeles while on a Chelsea pre-season tour.
But, literally you could ask ex-Sunderland and Swindon boss Di Canio a question and 15 minutes later he’d still be answering it although would’ve gone off on a tangent while reenacting every scene he was describing.
Corberan is not quite in that league — yet on the touchline he kicks every ball, wins every tackle and header, completes every pass and, as an ex-goalkeeper, makes every save. He lives and breathes every moment with his team.
I often wonder how his players remain calm on the pitch because I’m sometimes a nervous wreck just watching him!
But Corberan tells me: “The day I lose this will be the day I lose my passion for football.
“I love the game. I love all the people who are involved. I love to analyse every single thing that happens.
“It’s of course important to control these emotions — everyone has a different personality.
“Some people don’t express themselves a lot, some do, but it’s impossible to be calm without passion.
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“It’s easier how we manage this passion. Sometimes we manage it well, sometimes not but I do try to be calm.
“Sometimes when I talk to my family after the game, I tell them I was calm but they say to me, ‘No way.’
“We are so desperate to build a team that the fans are proud of and that’s why we care so much.”
But — as Corberan explains — it is impossible to ever be completely calm. For all the work done behind the scenes preparing a team for a match, there is so much you cannot control — things you could not possibly predict or bargain for.
Even if the game is seemingly in the bag at 2-0 up with six minutes left as it was at The Hawthorns on Friday night, the unexpected can happen.
In this case, ref Matthew Donohue awarded West Brom a penalty when he wrongly adjudged that Sorba Thomas had caught Alex Mowatt with a high foot.
Within a minute it was 2-2 and the Terriers almost lost when Karlan Grant struck the bar.
Football always keeps you on the edge.
Corberan said: “What helps make me feel calm is knowing we’ve prepared properly for the game.
“The more we make the team grow and work during the week, the more calm we can be on the touchline because we know we’ve done everything we can.
“Imagine if you know the team only has the possibility to face one sort of situation then something else happens. You then don’t have a solution.
“You can never be relaxed or think everything is under control. Other teams also have good players and good coaches. So you can never feel completely calm.”
Corberan is endearing and I can imagine how the players must love playing for him.
I connected to him instantly because he has that true human quality.
He is not some boring dullard who doesn’t really want to talk to you and trots out all the same boring stock answers to every question — although he did once mention something about taking each game as it comes!
The Huddersfield boss loves reading books and watching real-life films and documentaries to understand and learn about human behaviour.
One of the most recent movies he enjoyed was King Richard where Will Smith plays as Serena and Venus Williams’ father in a film that charts his life and determination to make the two sisters tennis greats.
And he also loved watching Never Give In — a look at the life and career of Sir Alex Ferguson.
Corberan said: “Football is full of human-beings. There are so many things out there that can make you understand people.
“I like to analyse the behaviours of people and people who have achieved unbelievable things.
“I love to know and understand their minds and the reasons behind their behaviour.
“Real-life films are the ones you have to watch because you can get to see a different side to someone amazing — their true personality. You can take so much knowledge from this.”
Corberan says he respects the modern-day footballer so much because of the demands that are placed upon them. He happily accepts he “did not have the skills or mindset” required to be a top goalkeeper when he was a kid on the books at Valencia.
Some people don’t express themselves a lot, some do, but it’s impossible to be calm without passion.
He said: “It’s so different to play a game on the training pitch and another in front of 20,000 people, especially away from home where all of them are against you. You must have the personality to make the right decision or brave decision.
“That is why I didn’t play at a high level because I didn’t have either the right personality or set of skills. At this level, these players have to do this twice a week. I have a lot of respect for these players.”
Despite Friday’s late wobble, Corberan’s team have now gone SEVENTEEN games unbeaten in the Championship – the best such run in the country – and he won the SkyBet manager of the month award for February.
It is all a far cry from a difficult first season in charge. Having worked as an assistant to Marcelo Bielsa at Leeds for two seasons, he took over a side that had just escaped relegation — but a run of just one win in their final 25 games last term could easily have seen him sacked.
But the Yorkshire side are now reaping the benefits of sticking by their manager, who has slowly but surely built a team that like to play attractive attacking football.
He said: “Our job depends a lot on results but I always try to be focussed on the things I can control. My control is preparing the team and preparing them in the best way we can and creating and executing the style we want to play.
“I respect a lot the support of the club because they’ve supported me in complicated moments. I want to give back and compensate their backing.”
IT’S NOT HUDD TO TELL, STEVE!
STEVE BRUCE asked me if I was from Huddersfield after I suggested the penalty West Brom got at The Hawthorns was the wrong call by the referee on Friday.
Yes, those Yorkshire twangs that I developed from my Kentish upbringing really gave me away there!
GREAT COL BY U’S
WELL done, Colchester United who are donating ALL gate receipts from their League Two game next Monday against Forest Green Rovers to the British Red Cross to help towards evacuating Ukrainian refugees fleeing Vladimir Putin’s barbaric invasion of their country.
Every ticket will be priced at £10 regardless of concession and the team will wear the Ukraine national colours of yellow and blue and the kit will also be auctioned off to raise further funds.