The similarities between Barnsley captain Mike Bahre and former Chelsea and Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti are not immediately obvious.
Yet touch upon the subject of authority and closer inspection shows that both espouse similar virtues.
Quiet Leadership: Winning Hearts, Minds and Matches is the title of Ancelotti’s acclaimed book and references the Italian’s abhorrence of employing aggressive theatrics to get the best out of a group of footballers – preferring instead to build individual relationships and mutual trust by a calmer approach.
Given that young people – let alone young footballers – generally do not respond well to ranting and raving to get the best out of them, it is perhaps a wise policy, more especially at a kindergarten, multi-cultural side such as Barnsley.
After a 2018-19 season when most things went his side’s way, head coach Daniel Stendel and his staff and players are currently enduring their most testing period since the German arrived at Oakwell as a virtual unknown in the summer of 2018.
We trained against him and maybe know how to defend against him.Mike Bahre
A perturbing run of five games without a win in all competitions has been exacerbated by the untimely unavailability of key players with Bambo Diaby and Cauley Woodrow sidelined until after the forthcoming international break and keeper Samuel Radlinger ruled out until December with a knee ligament injury.
With defender Dimitri Cavare having not been selected for the Reds’ last four matches amid plenty of social media speculation as to the reason why, it is fair to say that a month that started so vibrantly with an opening-day win over Fulham has rapidly descended at a rate of knots.
It reached a worrying plateau in last weekend’s 3-1 home loss to Luton Town, where the Reds’ first-half defensive performance was nothing short of shambolic.
In his first season as Reds captain in just his second season in English football, the current situation represents a bit of a baptism on the leadership front for Bahre, who feels the personal sense of responsibility on his shoulders.
Not that he is intimated by it.
Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s key game at Wigan Athletic – who head into the Roses appointment on a five-match losing sequence – Bahre said: “Now we are on a bit of a losing run, I can feel it.
“I want to take responsibilty to get us out of this situation and keep all the guys’ heads up. I try to every day in the changing room. That is important.
“In life, everything does not happen how you want it; you have to learn and keep strong. We are a team. Now we have to get out of this situation as a team and take responsibility. I am confident we will make it.
“I do not think a captain has to shout at everyone, I like to show my attitude on and off the pitch. Even if there are some days where nothing really works, you can still work hard and be an example. I think I can be because of my attitude.”
Conscious of the importance of collective responsibility in difficult periods of the season, Bahre added: “We are one team, we win and lose as a team.
“We beat Fulham in the first game and it was a big team performance and when we lose it is not because of an individual mistake. It is not one or two players having a bad game, but maybe everybody.
“The difference between League One and the Championship is that if you make a mistake, you get punished. There is a big gap – in League One, you can get away with it.
“That is what we have learned and we have to be on 100 per cent in every single game and work hard and fight for every ball to get points.
“If we win on Saturday, it will be seven points from six games and that is all right.
“It will be a tough, long season and we have a new team and there is a long time to go.”
That may undeniably be the case, but the inescapable impression remains that tomorrow’s appointment at Wigan, with the first international break being nigh, represents a bellwether game of big psychological importance in the Reds’ season.
It pits two sides against each other who are desperate to sign off August in morale-boosting fashion, with a blast from Barnsley’s recent past potentially standing in their way to inflict more pain on his former side.
It is just under a month since Kieffer Moore swapped South Yorkshire for Lancashire, although the big striker is an injury doubt for tomorrow’s game with a calf issue.
Should he feature at some point, it is likely to represent another significant test of the Reds’ mettle in a backline without Diaby and including a goalkeeper making his Championship debut in Brad Collins.
Bahre said: “Kieffer will be the targetman as he is tall and strong. But we have trained every day against him and maybe know how to defend against him.
“It will be good to see him again, but on the pitch, we are rivals for ninety minutes and we go there to get the three points.”