City old boy Morris key to Barnsley play-off surge
- Credit: Lorraine O'Sullivan/Focus Images
Barnsley boss Valerien Ismael is warning the Tykes to get their minds back on the job ahead of champions Norwich City’s visit to Oakwell.
Ismael has guided the Reds into the Championship play-offs, but the Frenchman was unhappy at a lack of focus in last weekend’s 2-0 defeat to Preston.
Barnsley will play either Brentford or Swansea over two legs, as they bid to join Norwich in the Premier League.
“My job is to re-focus the guys now and get a much better performance against Norwich and find our identity again,” said Ismael, who consulted his friend Daniel Farke before taking over at Oakwell in October with Barnsley fourth-from-bottom. “We didn't give the performance we wanted and it is a big disappointment.
"It is typical. When you reach your goal (of the play-offs) then the pressure comes down and you switch off for a short time. It is a warning to re-focus, come back to our intensity and have a good week of preparation for the last game against Norwich.
“The goals we conceded showed it is a concentration problem, the guys switched off. That is a normal human process. It is the only explanation. The training week was good but, at 3pm on Saturday, it was like the guys switched off completely.”
Barnsley beat Norwich 1-0 in the FA Cup the last time the sides met but Emi Buendia’s excellent volley sealed the league win at Carrow Road at the turn of the year.
Ismael cites the January signing of former Norwich City striker Carlton Morris as one of the key factors in a late season surge to reach the play-offs for the first time since 2000, when they lost to Ipswich at Wembley.
“The three key moments of the season were keeping all our players in January, signing Carlton Morris and Daryl Dike, who have had a big impact, and the FA Cup game against Chelsea which made the guys realise they can beat anyone in the Championship,” he said, quoted in the Barnsley Chronicle.
“We won seven games in a row after that and, from the moment we got in the top six, we never dropped down which shows the mentality and strength of the squad.
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“We improved all the time with consistency – even when we lost, we learned and bounced back. In January we lost three games in a row but the feeling was we were near to getting a big result against the top six team.
“It’s a new competition now in the play-offs. We don’t need to talk about promotion yet, we have to first be focused on the first leg then the second leg. It could be a big advantage because we play without pressure and, for sure, we are a big competitor in the play-offs.”