Fulham v Barnsley FC: Callum Styles hopes Poya Asbaghi helps Reds rediscover their ‘nasty’ side
It is not ‘clinical’, ‘focused’ or ‘organised’ – even if all those characteristics will be required to galvanise on-field events.
What the Reds must do, first and foremost, is become more ‘nasty’, according to Styles.
It has nothing to do with kicking opponents, but imposing their will upon rivals and making life much more uncomfortable.
It was something that Barnsley proved highly proficient at during their absorbing renaissance under Valerien Ismael last season when his side won duels across the pitch. This year, the Reds have won precious few battles.
Doing that is a starting point in any successful relegation scrap for Barnsley, whose new head coach Poya Asbaghi will watch on today before officially taking over on Monday.
Styles said: “We cannot hide from the fact we are second bottom. We know the quality we have as a team and what we did last season, but cannot get ahead of ourselves and think we are too good. We need to fight every day.
“There are times when you can get the ball on the ground and do all the fancy stuff in the right areas. But there is a time where you need to graft out the results, do the dirty stuff and be nasty to get the three points.
“We need to get back to that and show our nasty side and be nasty to play against.”
Barnsley going ‘back to the future’ is not exclusively reserved to reprising Ismael, according to Styles, who once hailed the impact of his predecessor Gerhard Struber as a ‘twelfth man’ in the 2019-20 ‘Great Escape’ campaign.
A force of nature from the sidelines, the Austrian cajoled Barnsley’s players to ‘play to their limits’ before every game and motivational qualities will also be needed to be shown by Asbaghi.
Styles added: “It would be nice to have someone like that to give us that drive from the side of the pitch and motivate us before the game and hopefully the new gaffer will bring that.”