Bournemouth v Barnsley - Alex Mowatt laughs off criticism from rivals

WHILE Barnsley head coach Valerien Ismael reacted to criticism of his side’s playing style from some rival Championship sides with a sense of anger and incredulity this week, his captain takes a different slant.

Asked about it ahead of today’s trip to Bournemouth, Alex Mowatt merely laughed it off and pointed in the process to a squad of relaxed players who are not concerned with what others from the outside throw at them one little bit.

After last Saturday’s game against Birmingham, Blues defender Yan Valery courted controversy by deriding the Reds’ tactics and claiming that Ismael’s side ‘don’t play football, they just play long balls’ after the Blues became the latest side to lose out to Barnsley.

Mowatt’s answer was as incisive and clinical as the free-kick he recently scored at QPR.

Barnsley's Alex Mowatt. Picture Tony Johnson

He commented: “I find it funny, to be honest. Valery was saying about our style of play, but they were doing long throws from the half-way line.

“So I don’t know how it works that we are a long-ball team and they get it down and play. I am not sure about that one…

“Maybe it was them being frustrated because they lost the game.”

When there has not been direct criticism, others have chosen to damn Barnsley with faint praise.

The bottom line is that the Reds, under Ismael, have been one of the most consistent teams in the division in terms of results and deserve to be where they are.

The talk is of sixth-placed Barnsley having no pressure on their shoulders and enjoying the ride, which is true on one level.

But given that their results and points return since Ismael arrived has only been surpassed by a few leading sides, they maybe do have something to lose.

They have every reason to believe that they can maintain their current position if they continue in the same vein.

A draw or victory in today’s big game at the side just below them in Bournemouth would reinforce that belief.

Mowatt, who again offered no updates on his own future, added: “It has been a great season so far, but we want to keep winning games and see how far we can go.

“We are doing really well in the table at the minute, but want to continue that and see where it takes us.

“You look at the run we have been on and how many games we have won since the gaffer has been here and we deserve to be where we are. If we had started the season better, we could have had a few points as well.”

Today’s game is the start of a key run of three matches before the next international break when the Reds players, who must empty the tank in every game with their physical exertions and relentless pressing style, will be afforded some valuable time for rest and recuperation before the run home.

In the here and now, it is work, travel, recovery and more work with a long trip to Wycombe on the itinerary in midweek after today’s game with a home derby with Sheffield Wednesday scheduled for next weekend.

Incentives are not in short supply and after being heavily beaten in terms of the scoreline against Bournemouth at Oakwell, Barnsley will want to show how much they have improved today.

Mowatt added: “I did not think it was a 4-0 game, but it was obviously the result at the end of the night.

“We are in a different position now and way of playing and have had longer under the gaffer and hopefully we can show a different side to us.

“With the three games coming up, we want to get the maximum points we can get and then have a little rest to see where we are and have conversations and then go again after the break.

“We love playing and want to be playing games and I don’t feel tired personally. The legs feel fatigued sometimes after games, but once you are out there playing, you don’t really think about it to be honest.”

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