Barnsley v QPR - Matt Rose to mortgage his future on keeping Reds alive

A FINANCIAL advisor before turning to coaching, Matt Rose would probably acknowledge that not too many Barnsley supporters would be putting their mortgage on the club staying up in 2019-20.

But in his former capacity as a long-serving defender in his playing days at today’s opponents QPR, memories of his time in West London indicate that all is not lost quite yet.

Ex-Arsenal trainee Rose, who played over 250 times for the R’s in a decade-long spell at Loftus Road, fondly recalls some successful survival missions of yore, most notably a stunning final-day win to stave off the drop back in 1998-99.

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It serves as a reminder that Barnsley, propping up the table and seven points adrift of safety, are still in the game and Rose – assistant head coach to Gerhard Struber – has a bit of advice for those writing off the Reds.

Barnsley's Jacob Brown takes on Reading's Andy Rinomhota. (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

Rose, a friend of QPR first-team coach Neil Banfield – a former team-mate from their time at Highbury – said: “One year, we stayed up on the last day of the season and had to beat Crystal Palace and won 6-1.

“In the years we turned it around, it was all about team spirit and how much the team were pushing in one direction.

“The year we went down was about players and individuals looking after themselves. All they were interested in was their careers and their future. And we had a talented team at the time.

“With Ian Holloway, we had less talented squads, but did better and were pulling in the same direction.

Barnsley coach Matt Rose (Picture: Marie Caley)

“It goes a long way and these (Barnsley) boys have that spirit. It will go a long way to helping survive. The other bits; we need to add.

“But we have got the main nucleus of spirit. If we did not have that, now I would say: ‘we are in trouble.’ The battle is half-won.”

Now 44, Rose is embracing his second career in football after leaving the financial world for coaching positions at first club Arsenal, latterly running the Gunners’ Elite Academy in Greece before being enticed by Barnsley’s offer of employment and getting his hands dirty back in England.

In terms of being out on the training pitch every day as opposed to crunching numbers all day, Rose – who scored his first ever professional goal for QPR at Oakwell in February 2000, knows what he now prefers, while naturally hoping that the figures stack up for Barnsley in the weeks and months ahead.

On his decision to become a financial advisor after hanging up his boots in the late Noughties, he continued: “I had to take time off football. I had been in it since being a kid and my brain was fried!

“I did not want to sit about and I had a friend at QPR – Chris Plummer – who was a mortgage advisor. He had testicular cancer and went onto be an advisor in insurance.

“I thought: ‘I have got to do something’ and took the exams in the mortgage and insurance world and just went round to the clubs talking to players and helping them as well.

“Because as a player, I lost money in certain areas where I should not have. But then I had an ‘epiphany’ one day with someone who was loving mortgages, paperwork and all the rules.

“I sat there and thought: ‘I don’t enjoy this like you enjoy it.’ And that was it; it was back to coaching and football.”

Brought into assist Struber, an important facet of Rose’s current role is providing a conduit for the Austrian and helping to communicate with the club’s players, with the Reds head coach being the first to admit that his English is still a work in progress.

Yet it is not rocket science to understand that the main thrust of the messages of Struber and Rose is focusing on the players cutting out a litany of elementary defensive mistakes which have proved so costly this season.

All the talk on election night may have been on the Labour’s ‘red wall’ crumbling in the north of England, but Barnsley have their own maintenance issues in that regard on the pitch after conceding 42 league goals already this campaign.

Rose, who captained Arsenal to FA Youth Cup final glory in 1994, reflected: “It is hard for the players; we are in games for 60 or 70 minutes and then things start to creep in and we are maybe switching off and we are getting punished and that is the problem.

“Look at Cardiff. We were 2-1 up and once we conceded that second goal, there was a psychological barrier broken a little.

“Arsene Wenger once said – and I look up to him a lot – that confidence for a player is like fuel for the car and it is true. If you don’t have that, it does not go properly.

“We need to reinstall the confidence and wins is the only way to do it. Performances are there, but that alone would not get you to where you need.

“But there’s 25 games left and we have just got to stay in that battle.”