Barnsley assistant Jon Stead on Neill Collins, not being a 'yes' man and his biggest influence in football

JON STEAD and Neil Collins were briefly team-mates during their playing careers while at Sunderland.

They now find themselves together at Barnsley. They are by no means joined at the hip and it took time in the US for them to truly get to know each other.

In a short space of time, the relationship has grown strong. Even though both, most definitely, are their own people.

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Reds assistant Stead said: "We obviously played together briefly at Sunderland. I knew what type of person and player he was and how committed he was.

Barnsley assistant coach Jon Stead. Picture courtesy of Barnsley FC.Barnsley assistant coach Jon Stead. Picture courtesy of Barnsley FC.
Barnsley assistant coach Jon Stead. Picture courtesy of Barnsley FC.

"We both kind of went our separate ways. I wouldn't say we kept in touch much. We'd see each other now and again and play against each other. It wasn't like we struck up a long-term friendship.

"Now, we are a very, very close and of very similar opinions in how we see the game. He also knows I will be honest in terms of my views as well and that's important.

"You don't want Neil just to hear yes all the time. It's important that staff constantly give him perspective to help give him the best opportunity to make the right decision.

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"You can be aligned in terms of your core principles and how you see the game in terms of personnel and tactics. There can be little tweaks, but it's got to be a collective.

"That's what is great, Neil is a very good communicator and always asks for opinions from his staff.

"We have an office of nine or ten people and everybody has an opinion or say. He's not always going to action upon them, but it gives him a better understanding of the room and there's also what's happened last season and the one before and we have staff here who felt it."

Stead, who turned 40 earlier this year, is carving out a coaching niche at Barnsley and when it comes to mentors in the game to learn from, he is not in short supply after representing 12 clubs during an exemplary playing career.

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When he needs advice, his first port of call is a name you who you would expect, in fairness.

He continued: "The biggest person for me is a guy called Chris Howarth (at Sheffield United academy). He was my coach at 12 or 13 and he's someone I have stayed in contact all the way through.

"He's someone who just gives me completely unfiltered information, especially on the coaching side, which is vital as he has years and years on the grass."

Resident in the Barnsley area and settled with his family, Stead - a Huddersfield lad from Honley - is pleased to have finally found his way to Oakwell and the opposite side of the Emley Moor mast to his boyhood club. At long last.

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Stead, who played for Yorkshire clubs Town, Sheffield United, Bradford City and Harrogate Town during his playing days before hanging up his boots and switching to coaching, commented: "When I came back to Huddersfield, Dave Flitcroft was manager (at Barnsley).

"I thought it was all done, but it then disappeared. I don't know what happened there, but it's one of those. I am here in the end."