Expect the unexpected - Barnsley FC boss Michael Duff on his play-off history ahead of Bolton Wanderers tie

FEW managers know the slings and arrows of outrageous play-off fortune better than Barnsley manager Michael Duff.

As a player, he was promoted via the end of season lottery with Burnley, at Sheffield United's expense in the Championship final of 2009.

Duff, pictured, also went up with Cheltenham Town from the fourth tier in 2002, even though he missed a penalty in a shoot-out win over Hartlepool United.

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In his managerial career, he led a Robins side who triumphed 2-0 in their League Two semi-final first leg in Northampton in 2021, only to lose 3-0 in the second instalment at Whaddon Road.

Michael Duff. Picture: Getty ImagesMichael Duff. Picture: Getty Images
Michael Duff. Picture: Getty Images

He has plenty of history to learn from.

He said: “I had two (play-off seasons) as a player and one as a manager. That was slightly different as it was in the lockdown, so the players had been off for three months, not knowing what was going to happen in the season and we had 12 training sessions to prepare for a play-off campaign.

“That was tough, so we learnt a lot from it. We hadn't conceded three goals that season and I think we'd only conceded two goals on four occasions that year. We won the first leg 2-0 and lost 3-0 at home. They are the things you learn from.

“But sometimes, that is what happens in the play-offs and I have had good and bad experiences from it.

“As a player, it's probably the best way to go up.

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“Coming out of the Championship (with Burnley), I came first and second and won in the play-offs. It was the most memorable day.

“The title win was different because it was all season.

“But the day out at the final and the couple of days after with the supporters and things (were memorable).”

That said, Duff won't even begin to think about Wembley unless a very capable Bolton side are negotiated.

He added: “We have got to get through the first bit before we start worrying about that.

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“I am not going to change my approach and start looking down the line.

“Yes, you have to do a little bit of planning and what if, but from the players point of view, don't start thinking about Wembley,” he added.