Gillingham v Barnsley: Dale Tonge is planning a promotion replay

Dale Tonge: Delighted with new role.
Dale Tonge: Delighted with new role.
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BARNSLEY assistant head coach Dale Tonge has cited former Reds managers Paul Hart and Andy Ritchie as his major coaching influences – as he strives to play his part in a promotion encore.

Tonge will work alongside head coach Daniel Stendel and existing assistant Christopher Stern for the rest of the season after impressing in a three-match interim spell – and he could not be more motivated for the challenge in store.

After being a member of the Reds squad who were promoted from this level under Ritchie in 2005-06, Tonge is aiming to play his part from the dug-out as opposed to the pitch as the Reds aim for another season of glory.

Tonge, 33, who was in the starting line-up during the Reds’ 3-0 win at the Priestfield Stadium in that promotion campaign, said: “Coaching-wise, my initial influences were Paul Hart and Andy Ritchie, who were big on the (team) environment.

“I know Paul left us, but that environment was the reason why we got promoted. The players all bought into what they wanted and it added to the values of Barnsley.

“One thing that we have now which is very similar is that we have quite a young squad, which it was when I was there. The naïvety of youth at times can be a blessing as the boys are just going out and playing and really enjoying themselves, while listening to the instructions of the gaffer.

“You can see day in and day out that the boys are expressing themselves.”

On his pride at being handed an extended role, Tonge added: “My family are Barnsley fans and I have a lot of friends who are and I have had a lot of well-wishers, which has been lovely.

“I know I have got the support, but it is not about me – I am here to help in any way and, hopefully, get us to where we all want to be in the Championship.”