HEAD coach Jose Morais insists that he retains full confidence that relegation-haunted Barnsley will hang on to their Championship status – despite a fraught build-up to the Reds’ critical Easter programme.
In charge for just six weeks, the Portuguese has endured a bruising introduction to management in England.
It has been exacerbated by this week’s reports of players holding meetings to discuss their dissatisfaction at his tactics after a run of just one victory in seven matches under his watch.
The development has intensified the pressure on Morais’s shoulders ahead of today’s meeting with play-off chasing Bristol City, with former Reds head coach Lee Johnson making his second return to Oakwell after his departure in February 2016.
Only goal difference separates Barnsley from the bottom three and the hosts will set a club record of 12 home league games without a win if they fail to triumph this afternoon. The Reds’ last Oakwell victory came way back on November 4.
Commendably, Morais did not shy away from reports of players expressing their unease at the Reds’ current Championship plight under him.
As far as he is concerned differences of opinion in the workplace should not be seen as anything unusual.
In his words, it shows that people primarily “care”, with his only concern now being that everyone comes together for the greater good to find collective solutions.
Players and staff met for lunch on Wednesday in an a show of togetherness, but the proof in the pudding is likely to come today for fourth-from-bottom Barnsley who have won just once in the league since New Year’s Day.
Morais said: “We had an interesting lunch together after training and this is one of the small things that can make a difference.
“It is the capacity for us to be together, not only in the working environment but different kinds of environments to understand that being team-mates means more than being on the pitch and doing the training and coming into the game, playing the game and then going home.
“This is the feeling we want to grow into the team. I have been here one month and this is something you develop throughout the season.
“I am here to make miracles happen and I am working every day for it to happen because I believe in miracles.
“I still believe the team can turn around situations like this because it is a question of strength and this is what we are building.
“I am not happy with the record of the team and the results we are having. They (players) were not happy with the results they were having before as not to have a minimum of one point for every game is not good enough.
“But they are good enough to do better and this is what we are talking about.
“I believe they have the quality and intention to win. I just want them to have the same belief that I have in order for them to understand that if they do it one time, they can do it all the time.
“It is a question of them having the same attitude and mentality. They won the one time away and if they win once at home they can always win at home. We are a better team than we were before.”
Strong mindsets will be required on the pitch this afternoon given the Reds’ feeble Oakwell performance last time out against Millwall, which drew an avalanche of criticism.
Much of the post-match ire was directed towards Morais, with the decision not to include the creative spark of crowd favourite Adam Hammill on the bench for a sixth successive match used as a stick with which to beat him.
Morais insists there has been no falling out with the winger, who remains in the first-team fray, with his omission not being personally motivated.
Morais, who will again be without Matt Mills, although Joe Williams is available following a back problem, added: “From Adam I am seeing better things than what I saw before. I hope that I can get even more.
“It is always about what I am willing to do for the team and it is not really about myself. I am a guy to harmonise things to create the performance that I want.
“What I want is the same as in my family. I will not get rid of one of my kids I care about because, at certain moments, I took a decision that is not one that he likes.
“He will still be my son and part of my family and I will not kick him out of my house.
“I care about him and performance and harmony. That is what management is about, it is about something bigger than myself and any one of them.
“Obviously there is always a chance for anyone to be involved. He (Hammill) is one of the team. It is about what he can do.”
Last six games: Barnsley WDLLDL Bristol City DLWLDW.
Referee: D Webb (Co.Durham).
Last time: Barnsley 2 Bristol City 2; October 29, 2016; Championship.