Nicky Colgan content to be out of the matchday firing line

Former goalkeeper is happy to have settled into his coaching role at Huddersfield Town

Former Republic of Ireland international Nicky Colgan is hoping that Huddersfield Town can make mathematically sure of avoiding relegation this evening then push on up the table over the last few weeks of what has been another eventful Championship season.

The club visit Rotherham where a win would guarantee the safety of David Wagner’s side although they are so close to it at this stage - with only MK Dons amongst the bottom three capable of causing them concerns - that a draw would as good as resolve the issue while results elsewhere will, in any case, probably make theirs irrelevant.

“It would take quite something for us to get dragged back into it,” says Colgan, “but then you never know in football; a striker went in goals for MK Dons at the weekend and saved a penalty (to earn them a draw at Preston). You don’t want that to be the start of one of those stories, like Leicester this season.”

At this stage, it might actually be a more remarkable yarn and so, while he wants to be sure, it seems that there is little enough to worry about for Colgan, who made 10 senior international appearances between 2002 and 2007 and joined Huddersfield back in 2011 before gradually moving over to the coaching side, initially with the club’s academy, then with the first team..

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“I’m loving it, to be honest,” he says. “I don’t miss playing at all. Even back at Chelsea as a young player, I used to stay on after training and do some work with the academy coaches so I was delighted to get the opportunity to do a bit myself; it was something I was very much hoping to get into.”

The Droghedaman first worked with Barnley’s young goalkeepers while on the books of Huddersfield but was then handed a similar role at his own club after which he fairly quickly got the chance to up the ranks.

“Mark Robbins, who was the manager at the time, asked me to step up and work with the first team on a short term basis but then at the end of the season he said that he liked the way I worked and asked me to stay on. I was really grateful to him for the opportunity although I’ve worked with three different managers since I got the job.

That, it seems, is simply part and parcel of life as a coach in the Championship assuming that is, that each new manager decides to keep you around. “It’s ridiculous really,” says Colgan, “I think the average amount of time a manager in this division gets in the job is something like 13 months. If you’re trying to build something substantial then clearly that’s not nearly enough time but every club is chasing the Premier League dream and all the millions that go with it and owners are investing an awful lot of money to achieve that so of course they’re entitled to run the club as they see fit. It’s down to you to just do your job to the best of your ability.”

David Wagner, a German born former US international who worked with Jurgen Klopp at Borussia Dortmund where he managed the second team, is Colgan’s latest boss and he has made quite a positive impact at the club where hopes are high now for next season. “He has his own way of doing things and so a lot has changed but it’s working,” says the Irishman who hopes he might squeeze a trip to France for one the Republic’s group games in before what will be a very early return to pre-season.

Colgan works closely with one Ireland international, Joe Murphy, whose season was ended early by injury that ultimately required surgery on his shoulder but Huddersfield almost signed Rob Elliot on loan last summer, he says, when the goalkeeper was unwanted at Newcastle and looking around for somewhere he might get first team football.

“We had the deal agreed but then Rob picked up a bit of an injury before all the paperwork was complete and it all fell through. From our side it was a real blow, it was before we got Jed Steer in from Villa, and Rob looked like he would have been great for us but then things worked out really well for him up there; the injury to Tim Krul allowed him to step in, do well and establish himself as a real crowd favourite. I was delighted for him and then terribly sorry to see him get injured playing that game for Ireland. It’s very hard on him because he probably would have been going to the European Championships.”

It is, as they say, all part of the job although at least for Colgan the injuries are a thing of the past, one of the many reasons, one suspects, he is enjoying life these days. “Yeah, I am,” he says. “It’s busy during the week but I love the work and by matchday you’re sort of done, for the most part you can just sit back, relax and enjoy the games.”

He will enjoy them that little bit more, of course, once things are settled and Huddersfield are sure of their Championship status for next season.

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone is an Assistant News Editor at The Irish Times