THE personal touch from a manager can go a long way – just ask new Barnsley signing Keith Treacy.
Having fallen out of love with the game during a tough spell on and off the pitch at former club Burnley, the winger was afforded a bit of tender, loving care from Clarets chief Sean Dyche and it did the trick.
Now he finds himself across the Pennines at Oakwell under another manager in Danny Wilson, who has already made an impression upon him, despite having only just signed him.
Wingers at the best of times can be ‘confidence players’ and invariably need a bit of an arm around the shoulder and Treacy is no different.
Plenty of work in that respect by Dyche helped the Irishman contribute, albeit chiefly in a role as an impact substitute, to Burnley’s remarkable promotion last term.
Despite his contract ending in the summer, Treacy, frozen out prior to Dyche’s arrival in October 2012 by predecessor Eddie Howe, remains forever grateful to the Clarets chief, who helped him conquer considerable problems at Burnley, including an ongoing battle for access to his young daughter.
Wilson is also hoping that he can cajole the best out of the 25-year-old in the Reds’ quest to return to the Championship at the first time of asking and his work began in that respect at the start of pre-season.
Wilson went over to see Treacy to outline his plans for Barnsley when the pair had an informal chat and a coffee, which made a lasting impression on the wingman – culminating in him signing a two-year deal this week.
Treacy, whose lack of match fitness is likely to see him only to be involved from the bench today in the Reds’ League One home opener against Crawley Town, said: “As soon as I went back to Dublin my agent made me aware of it (Barnsley interest).
“I told him I wanted to spend time with my family and escape football, which I did. But when I came back here, I got my head down and assessed my options and came to Barnsley.
“It was nice for the manager to come and meet me. He didn’t put me under any pressure and we just had a chat and a coffee and he told me what he was trying to build here and how he thought I would fit in and everything he said struck a note with me.
“Metaphorically speaking, he put the nail in the coffin and made my mind up for me.
“The personal touches like that do make a difference to a player like me, I suppose.
“I played 31 games and had about 14 starts last season at Burnley. Any player would say they wanted to play more. But when you judge where I was with the old manager (Howe) and what I came to achieve, things started to pan out.
“I had a lot of friends at Burnley and Sean Dyche is one of the best managers I have ever played for.
“I would actually call him a friend, he’s kept me in football at one stage when I was really in the depths of depression. He kept me hanging in and I will be forever thankful to him.
“Sean dragged me up from where I was and got me playing again and playing well. He’s done a lot for me.
“There were no superstars or egos at Burnley and one of the mantras when he came through the door was: ‘Take your egos off at the door and leave them there’.
“We all pulled in the same direction and I think the lads really took to it, hence the promotion.”
Like Dyche, Wilson is a grounded manager who believes there is no I in team. Testimony to that is the ‘all-for-one’ ethic he fostered in a team devoid of superstars in his first spell in charge of Barnsley.
Then he built an honest, close-knit and successful side which not only struck a chord with everyone in the South Yorkshire town but resulted in promotion to the Premier League.
His task is to somehow do something similar this time around.
While that class of the mid-Nineties had experienced players such as Neil Redfearn, Paul Wilkinson and John Hendrie to call upon, Wilson’s current crop are considerably more fresh-faced, with it not having escaped Treacy’s notice that at almost 26, he is one of the oldest.
He may only be in his mid-twenties, but the Republic of Ireland international has sampled plenty in his career to date and is one of a select group of current players to play in all four divisions in England – his top-flight experiences arriving with first club Blackburn Rovers in 2008/09.
And as for his impressions of his new club, they might not be exactly be favourable, but for him, that is by no means a bad thing.
Treacy, no stranger to South Yorkshire having had loan spells at both Sheffield clubs and previously linked with Barnsley, said: “Every time I have played at Oakwell, I have never enjoyed it, so that says something about the team and fans.
“As an opposition player, the players and fans must have done something right here. I thought that to come inside that circle would be good for me.
“They have just come down and the gaffer said to me he was putting together a youthful, energetic and sharp squad. I actually got into the dressing room on Thursday morning and texted my missus and said that I feel really old!
“I have been made aware the average age in the dressing room is 21, so I am four years older than everybody else, although I still see myself as learning and not the finished article.
“It is a fresh start at Barnsley. I don’t want to rest on my laurels after a promotion and think I have done this and that.
“It is time to put the boots on and push forward at Barnsley.
“The gaffer has gone on record as saying top six is the aim and if he thinks Barnsley are capable of that – and he will have a lot better idea than me at this early stage – then we are pushing for top six.”