Lee Johnson is backing his Barnsley side to triumph in tomorrow’s Yorkshire derby with Bradford City in a contest of “boys against men”.
TV pundit Alan Hansen famously warned ‘you never win anything with kids’ when talking about a youthful Manchester United in the Nineties.
David Beckham and co proved that prediction wrong, and tomorrow Johnson is backing his youthful Tykes against an experienced Bantams line-up at Oakwell.
“I’ve been around Yorkshire and been to Bradford enough times now to know what they’re about,” said Johnson. “They are a good strong side.
“They’ve been very consistent, have a group of men, and that is a strength of theirs, but we hope it will be a weakness as well. Our youth and enthusiasm against their savvy and strength.
“They haven’t had a great start, but you know they will be competing at the top end of he division.
“I look at Bradford’s team, and how strong and experienced they are. We will have to be at our best to get a result.
“We need to believe in ourselves, but not believe the hype that one game can create,” said Johnson, fresh from an impressive 3-2 midweek win at Millwall.
“But we know we’ll have to be at our best to get a result [against Bradford]. They are a good strong and experienced side.
“We’ve got to be aware of the wounded animal if you like.
“We’ve got to make sure we’re ready mentally and physically ready. The important thing for us is to play with energy.
“If we play with that energy we can beat anybody in the division. But if we can lack energy then we can get physically dominated.”
Barnsley’s defence will need to be strong to thwart a City side, who boast one of the best strikers in League One in James Hanson. Johnson paid tribute to City boss Phil Parkinson.
“I have played Bradford many times now and every time it’s been very tight,” he said.
“You get to know manager’s styles and personality. I know the type of characters he goes for.
“Players that are very consistent, men, and would die for you in a ditch.
“It’s important we impose our attributes on them. James Hanson is a big threat, they have signed Steven Davies as well who is a good striker.”
Reports in Lancashire yesterday said Blackburn Rovers had rejected an approach from Barnsley for midfielder John O’Sullivan, 21.