Jordan Williams on the similarities between Michael Duff's Barnsley and class of Valerien Ismael

A MEMBER of Barnsley's feted side of 2020-21, Jordan Williams spies similarities between the current team led by Michael Duff and the class of Valerien Ismael.

Stylistically, both sides are different. What they share is a togetherness, organisation, spirit and resolve. They are both hard to beat.

Ismael's intake started to gain momentum in late autumn and early winter and Duff's team are doing the same. Whisper it gently.

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December proved fateful two seasons ago with a run of six wins in eight matches providing the Reds with the momentum they needed to push on for the Championship play-offs in the new year.

Barnsley's Jordan Williams, pictured in cup action against Leeds earlier this season. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.Barnsley's Jordan Williams, pictured in cup action against Leeds earlier this season. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.
Barnsley's Jordan Williams, pictured in cup action against Leeds earlier this season. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

Fast forward to now and fourth-placed Barnsley, who have won their last five League One games, are consolidating their top-six berth.

Should that form continue, fans may get even more optimistic.

Not that Duff, a tough taskmaster with high standards like Ismael, will ever look too far ahead.

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On whether there are similarities between the two sides, Williams said: "Yes, definitely. It's obviously a different manager and mindset. But with the way we are pulling together as a group, it seems very similar.

"The standards have raised and it's showing in the performances and results on the pitch as well.

"It's not started overnight. At the start of the season, we played Plymouth away and got rolled over.

"Now, the gaffer has brought us together as a group and we are doing things together now and not in ones, twos and threes and we are working in the same direction."

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On the back of a grim 2021-22 relegation campaign when there was a distinct lack of cohesion, unity and belief and sense of disharmony behind the scenes, Barnsley's upturn has been all the more laudable.

The mood music is shifting and the pain of relegation – confirmed at Williams's hometown club Huddersfield in April – is easing.

Williams continued: "It is not nice being relegated and you want to play at as high a standard as possible and that's the aim for the team and myself. Hopefully, we can push on and get promotion.

"You are down for a few months and when you get back to work, it's about work and striving to do well and forgetting about it.

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"It's not the culture within the team, but club at the minute. Everyone is trying to pull in the same direction and are improving in different aspects, not just on the field. Everyone is trying to make Barnsley a better place for everyone.

"When you are doing well, you are going to be better mates than when you are doing badly.

"You don't want to be around people who are negative and at the minute, everyone is positive and it's good."

So far this season, 13 Barnsley players have found the net at league level, while their defensive statistics are among the best in the division.

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It points towards a team effort in the truest sense of the word.

Williams, speaking ahead of the Boxing Day trip to Accrington Stanley – the Reds have sold almost 1,900 tickets so far – said: "We are keeping clean sheets and it's not just the defenders doing well, it starts from the frontline.

"You see it with the goals as well, it is not just the forwards who are scoring, it's midfielders and defenders and it's a whole team effort.”