Barnsley v Walsall: New man Johnson in the mood to entertain

Lee Johnson
Lee Johnson
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AT his press unveiling last week, Lee Johnson spoke about his desire to sate the footballing appetites of fans at his new club by providing entertainment – and hopefully three points – to go with their Saturday-night take-aways following home matches.

He hopes to prove as good as his word today, with his first weekend Oakwell appointment arriving against Walsall.

A replication of the effort and high-octane intensity shown in the midweek victory over Coventry City – and a bit more besides – is what the head coach is craving.

More benign conditions would suffice if Johnson is being picky, with the 33-year-old a keen proponent of passing football and keen for that to emanate in the weeks, months and hopefully seasons ahead.

Johnson, seeking a third successive win and clean sheet in charge of the Reds, who have won their previous four matches to inspire talk of a play-off push, said: “I really enjoyed it the other night. It was edgy due to the conditions and the way the game went.

“But most fans enjoyed themselves and saw that the team put in a really strong effort to get the three points and we expect the same again.

“I am looking forward to it. Hopefully, the wind tunnel will have died down a little bit and we can get the ball down and knock it about a bit.”

On today’s opponents, Johnson added: “Walsall have done great. They have a good manager (Dean Smith) who has consistently punched above his weight for a long time now. They are in the JPT final which is a big positive and if they beat us, they are still in with a shout of the play-offs and will go above us on goal difference.

“Our tempo will probably have to be as high as the other night and we will probably need a bit more quality as well.”

Meanwhile, Johnson has explained the reasoning for allowing Leroy Lita to head to Notts County on loan, with the much-travelled striker, for footballing reasons, unlikely to fit into what he is trying to espouse.

Johnson said: “It is not that he is not my type of player; Leroy certainly has qualities.

“It was a case of me quickly assessing the squad and doing what is best for him and the club.

“Leroy is very sharp in the box and can finish. Would he have got to play as many games as he would like, with the way I like to play? Probably not, so you have to be fair sometimes to the player.”

Barnsley have signed Declan John on loan from Cardiff City and Jabo Ibehre from Colchester United for the remainder of the season.