Barnsley manager Danny Wilson will make an emotional return to Oakwell today believing home form will be key if they are to survive in the Championship.
The Reds face an Oakwell double-header with today’s visit of Bolton Wanderers swiftly followed on Sunday by the arrival in South Yorkshire of Derby County.
It has been 15 years since Wilson last emerged from the players’ tunnel to the home dugout at Oakwell, and during that time the changing rooms have been moved to under the North stand. “I don’t know who is more excited, the players or me,” Wilson told the Yorkshire Post.
“Bolton and Derby at home are two terrific games, two games in which we feel we can really do ourselves justice, with the support and backing of the fans, which I know automatically we will get.
“Walking up the touchline will be terrific. It’s a short walk when things are going well, it’s a long walk if they’re not.
“But we all know that, that’s the nature of football.
“It will be really fantastic. Honestly, it really seems just like yesterday (that he last managed Barnsley). If everything goes well, I hope to have the same sort of feelings as I did then.
“Oakwell is a really tough place to come and play and if we have got the fans right behind us that will make it even more difficult for the opposition.”
Barnsley have won just twice at home in the Championship, derby triumphs over Huddersfield Town and Middlesbrough.
“The home form will be paramount, no doubt about it. Yes, we will pick up points away from home, but the vast majority of your points come from home games.
“You don’t always get it your own way, there will be some very good teams we will play against, make it difficult for us, but the outcome is the be-all and end-all for us at the minute and maximum points.”
A relegation scrap is not what Wilson has been used to for the last two seasons, when he twice went close to winning promotion with Sheffield United.
So does he adopt a different approach at Barnsley? “You work on very similar things with players. It’s all about confidence. If we can instil a bit of confidence in them – and that comes with results. You can’t keep having good performances and not winning. A lad’s confidence will go and he’ll have self-doubt. We have to avoid that.
“So, if we are going to put in good performances, we have to top it off with a result. We have so many big games coming up now.”
Wilson has managed the Reds, Blades and Sheffield Wednesday, and is still held in high regard by South Yorkshire football fans. “It goes to prove we treat people correctly, properly, and go about our job in the right manner. That’s all you can do,” he said.
“My team, staff that I have worked with, have always had high respect for the people that employ us and certainly the people that come and watch us.
“I like to think that transfers over and you get a bit of respect back.
“We try and do things correctly, with humility, and that will continue, irrespective of how results go. We will always have that integrity, and I hope that’s never questioned.”
Oakwell preview: Page 22.