SILENCE has been golden as far as Barnsley’s coaching staff are concerned this week.
The Reds possess one of the youngest squads in League One, but there has been no shortage of players taking responsibility and making their voices heard at a pivotal stage of the season, according to assistant head coach Dale Tonge.
In the wake of last Saturday’s defeat at Burton, Tonge has revealed that the squad took it upon themselves to organise an ‘in-house’ players’ meeting to discuss ways of responding to the setback, their first in 21 league games.
And Tonge admits that the club’s management could not be happier at witnessing players take the lead as they plot an immediate response at home to Fleetwood tomorrow.
It is the first of two successive home games for the Reds, who now find themselves outside of the top two with five matches of their season remaining.
Tonge said: “It has been a really positive week with positive mindsets and talks and we have not had to do too much and the players have done it themselves.
“We have let the boys take a little bit of ownership of their performances and reflect on what they have been doing – whether it is good or not so good.
“But it is evident that the boys are up for that challenge and they are vocal in a very good way.
“It has been really positive from our point of view because we have not had to say too much.”
Barnsley, after being the hunted for the past few months, are now cast in the guise of the hunter with Sunderland having leapfrogged them into the second automatic promotion slot. The Wearside club are a point clear with a game in hand.
That can again be another catalyst in that the pressure is off and it is a case of us going and performing and playing our game and attacking these last five games.
The third-placed Reds are also minding the gap below them with Portsmouth – two points behind them and having played a game fewer – and Charlton in close proximity, but Tonge believes the fact that several clubs are now under the microscope can work for the Oakwell outfit.
Tonge observed: “It is out of our hands, we understand that.
“A lot of people are talking about the pressure and, yes, there was pressure on us because we had two massive clubs behind us. One is above us now and one can go above us.
“That can again be another catalyst in that the pressure is off and it is a case of us going and performing and playing our game and attacking these last five games.
“We can understand that it is a freak season and 90 points might not get you up this year. But at the same time we feel that if we win all our games we have got a great opportunity.”