BRIAN McDERMOTT has urged his Leeds United side to once again overcome the ‘new manager effect’ when Barnsley travel to Elland Road tomorrow.
The Reds appointed Danny Wilson as their permanent successor to David Flitcroft on Tuesday, meaning his first game in charge will be against United.
It will be the fifth time Leeds have taken on a side under new management this season, three of those having been won.
Brighton & Hove Albion, under Oscar Garcia Junyent, and Middlesbrough, with Aitor Karanka in charge, both slipped to 2-1 defeats in LS11.
Wigan Athletic, fresh from sacking Owen Coyle and then under the temporary charge of Graham Barrow and Sandy Stewart, were also beaten at Elland Road, meaning only Steve McClaren got the better of Leeds, in his first game as Derby County manager in October.
Ahead of taking on Wilson’s Barnsley, McDermott said: “It is strange that we are playing against another club with a new manager. What you are coming up against you have to second guess.
“I know Danny really well and he is a friend. He has been there before and he did a really good job for them. I am sure he will do a really good job going forward.
“He is a really good guy and I like him a lot. He has been a manager for a long time and I think they have made a really good choice.
“They are coming to Elland Road and they’ll want to put on a performance, we know that. It is a derby and anything can happen in derbies. We have to be ready and we will be.”
Barnsley have enjoyed the upper hand in tussles between the two clubs since Leeds won promotion back to the Championship in 2010 thanks to three resounding victories at Oakwell that have seen the Reds score 11 times to their Yorkshire rivals’ tally of just three.
At Elland Road, Leeds beat the Reds last season but the other two meetings have ended in a 3-3 draw and a 2-1 victory for the South Yorkshire club.
Asked about that record, McDermott said: “The relevance of previous results doesn’t matter to me.”
United will go into tomorrow’s derby in high spirits thanks to a run of six wins from their last nine outings.
This has been enough to power McDermott’s side up to sixth place and leave the West Yorkshire club handily placed to push on for honours in the new year.
That is something McDermott knows all about from his time in charge of Reading. First, just one defeat in 15 games during the 2010-11 run-in took the Royals into the play-offs where they lost in the final to Swansea City.
Then, a year later, an incredible run of 20 wins from the final 26 games was enough to power Reading from 11th in the table to champions and the Premier League.
Asked what was the secret behind those two storming runs, McDermott said: “We kept our philosophy and kept going. If we got a bad result, we didn’t let it us affect us. If we got a good result, we didn’t get carried away.
“We just carried on and we had a philosophy of doing things the right way. We trained the right way, prepared the right way and did everything we could to make sure we were ready.
“You also have to try to get that camaraderie with the fans and the players and if you can get some momentum, it can carry you a long way.”
Pressed on whether he could inspire Leeds to a similar feat, the 52-year-old chose instead to focus on the immediate job in hand.
He said: “I expect us to go out on Saturday and produce the best performance to get a result and then we carry on after that.
“It isn’t about being in the top six on January 4, when we switch to the FA Cup, or whenever. You might not be in the top six then but you can still be in the top six in May.”
Gboly Ariyibi, the teenage winger signed by United earlier this month until the end of the season, is struggling to be fit due to not having trained for a few days.
McDermott, though, has been impressed with the Southampton Academy graduate.
The United chief, who has declined to make an offer for former Peterborough man Shaquile McDonald following a short trial, said: “From what I have seen, (Ariyibi ) would be in with a shout. But he hasn’t trained for a few days.
“It is a godsend that we have brought someone in. I wouldn’t want to put too much expectation on his shoulders, but we are talking about a winger who is a strong boy with real pace.
“He looks at a manager now who thinks he has got a chance and believes in him and that will be important to him. I played in that position and I know what that means.
“You need a manager who believes in you. I just wish I’d found one.”
For his part, Barnsley manager Wilson has vowed not to head to Elland Road in the first game of his second spell in charge and simply try to soak up pressure.
He added: “Over a period of time, we have done okay there. They will have one eye on us, let’s be quite honest. I don’t think for one minute that Brian (McDermott) will under-estimate the lads here, irrespective of the league positions.
“The form will not say a great deal about the early exchanges; they will be tough and frantic. I think Brian will understand what we have available to us in our locker that will cause them a problem. We want to try and win the game, not go there and try soak up 89 minutes of pressure.
“We want to have a good go and see if we can get our noses in front, see how they react to that.
“Anything can happen in these games.
“Leeds are in good form, their home form is good, and they have a very passionate crowd. But that guarantees you nothing.”