Why Alex Mowatt says every Barnsley player must now show leadership

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GIVEN what he has experienced in his career so far, Barnsley midfielder Alex Mowatt is not one to be easily shocked.

You can be forgiven for possessing that mindset when the list of managers and head coaches who you have worked under is already past the double-figure mark and you are only 24.

Battling for the cause: Barnsley's Alex Mowatt.

Battling for the cause: Barnsley's Alex Mowatt.

He worked with one in Darko Milanic for just 32 days during his brief spell in charge at Leeds United in 2013-14. His predecessor, David Hockaday, did not last much longer; just 70 days in total.

But Mowatt is the first to admit that the events of the morning of October 8 when Daniel Stendel exited Oakwell left him stunned, even accounting for the volatile nature of football management.

As someone who blossomed again under the tutelage of the German – at a time in his own career when he was approaching a crossroads – Mowatt felt the news more keenly than most.

He soon tweeted: ‘Gutted to see the gaffer go, would like to wish him all the best in the future.’

The players take most of the responsibility, to be honest. It is us out there and we are making the silly mistakes for the goals.

Alex Mowatt

It is right in saying that those sentiments were shared by almost every Barnsley supporter, with Stendel’s exit being the precursor to a tough international fortnight.

For the clouds to start to part, a victory in tomorrow’s Championship home game with Swansea City would represent a step in the right direction at least.

Admitting that Stendel’s exit has been the most painful managerial departure to contend with of his career, Mowatt said: “I would say so. I have been there when the manager has gone quite a lot of times, but under the gaffer, who really believed and trusted in me, it was hard.

“He was a big influence on me last season and this season as well and on quite a lot of the other lads.

“All the fans are gutted that the gaffer left as they like the gaffer and it is gutting for them. But, hopefully, we can get a result for them on Saturday.

“He played me every game and I spoke to him quite a lot and he pulled me into the office and spoke to me and I had a good relationship with him. I sent him a text and he rang me when the news had happened.

“I probably would not have played at Barnsley if he was not there last season.

“It was hard for me and the lads, but there is a new manager in charge at the minute and we have got to get our heads around that and play for him.”

As Mowatt has experienced on several occasions, surprises do arrive, but in the footballing world, life quickly goes on.

There is invariably another match to quickly prepare for and league table situation to ameliorate, most definitely in Barnsley’s current case.

Caretaker manager Adam Murray is the man assigned with, in his words, lifting the spirits of confidence-sapped Reds players after suffering ‘a couple of punches on the chin’.

The Championship roster offers, on paper, few favours for a Barnsley side who welcome a handy Swansea outfit who occupy fourth spot in the table. Just over 72 hours later, the Oakwell outfit then call in at current leaders West Bromwich.

It is a time when feeling sorry for yourself is fraught with risk for a Reds team who have not won in 11 matches in all competitions since an opening-day victory over Fulham on August 3.

As one of the club’s senior players, despite not turning 25 until February, Mowatt – who has worn the captain’s armband on occasions this season – is one of those entrusted with setting an example and fronting up.

He has also been in the game long enough to know that Barnsley, despite their well-documented status as being the youngest side in the second tier, must find some leadership and direction fast if they are going to get their season back on an even keel.

Part of that process involves the players taking collective responsibility for their part in a bruising first quarter of the season – which has left them searching for a new full-time head coach.

On the task ahead for second-from-bottom Barnsley, Mowatt added: “All of us have got to be leaders and that is what we have been missing. Everyone has got to step up. I know we are young people playing in the Championship, but we have got to be men.

“The players take most of the responsibility, to be honest. It is us out there and we are making the silly mistakes for the goals.

“After everything we had done last season and coming into this season, having lost big players as well, we always knew it would be difficult. We have not started the best.

“We want to get back to winning games and not conceding five like at Preston.

“We want to be competitive and playing well. For us as a team, no matter who is in charge, we need to give our best, playing at 100 per cent and win games.

“We have got to play for the man in charge at the time and, at the minute, it is Muz (Murray) and we have to do what Muz wants and how to play and must do it at the weekend.”