Leon Wobschall – Barnsley and Doncaster Rovers chiefs striving to earn further acclaim with Pitmen’s Derby triumph

Graphic: Graeme Bandeira.
Graphic: Graeme Bandeira.
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NEVER is a manager or a head coach’s raison d’etre more apparent than on derby day.

Barnsley chief Daniel Stendel and his Doncaster Rovers’ adversary Grant McCann will probably not allude to it in the build-up to the Yorkshire rivals’ forthcoming League One meeting at Oakwell this weekend, but this much is true.

It is moments like Saturday that they will have pined for when they were sat at home kicking their heels earlier this year away from the managerial frontline.

Carrying their own hopes as well as those of their respective club and town; being a central figure in something that matters. The water of managerial life.

It is a scenario that will have seemed a fair distance away when both were ‘between jobs’ - and entitled to wonder just where their next step would take them after painstaking time in the study sharpening up CVs and refreshing their skills-sets. Waiting for that one call or an email.

Relatively young in managerial/coaching terms, the frustration and wait before ‘getting back in’ will have been keenly felt by both. Probably by their families too.

Barnsley head coach, Daniel Stendel. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

Barnsley head coach, Daniel Stendel. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

It is for all managers in truth. Former Rotherham United chief Ronnie Moore famously used to quip that his lawns were like Wembley, with clothes in formation on the washing line during his spells away from the dug-out – with football always at the forefront of his thoughts, even when performing mundane household duties.

Two intense, driven figures – partly fuelled by the pain of rejection at their previous clubs of Hannover ‘96 and Peterborough United – Stendel and McCann have endeared themselves rather well to supporters in the early months of their respective spells in charge at Oakwell and the Keepmoat Stadium.

Stendel’s gegenpressing Barnsley class of 2018-19 – high on energy and belief – have vanquished memories of last season’s relegation pain in double-quick time and addressed fissures in the club.

His decision to pop into some of the town’s hostelries to watch World Cup games in June and mix with the punters represented a sound start and events on the pitch this season have subsequently crystallised that early popularity.

Two intense, driven figures – partly fuelled by the pain of rejection at their previous clubs of Hannover’ 96 and Peterborough United – Stendel and McCann have endeared themselves rather well to supporters in the early months of their respective spells

Leon Wobschall

McCann’s public desire to ‘aim for the stars’ with Rovers and back it up with deeds in a promising opening third of the season notable for his side’s vibrant, attacking intent has similarly commanded instant respect.

The pair’s abhorrence of slack standards in training and on a match-day is already self-evident too. Stendel’s mild expletive to describe his disappointment at the Reds’ home performance against Plymouth Argyle last month spoke more than a thousand words.

McCann’s icy glare is similarly telling when he witnesses things that do not meet his satisfaction.

The boy from Belfast and his rival from the working-class east of Germany plainly do not suffer fools. Their way or the highway, by the looks of it. Buy into it, or ship out.

Doncaster Rovers manager Grant McCann. Picture: Marie Caley

Doncaster Rovers manager Grant McCann. Picture: Marie Caley

And so to Saturday. Further affirmation would arrive for both with a precious derby victory in the vault as they approach the tail-end of a calendar year which started out discouragingly and is ending rather more favourably.

The Pitmen’s Derby is an occasion which has simmered and boiled over the past 15 years since its resumption after a lengthy absence in 2004.

Late goals have frequented the scene and sending offs and drama have also pockmarked proceedings – who can forget when Barnsley shrugged off the dismissal of former Rovers defender Darren Moore to secure a scarcely-believable 4-1 win at Oakwell in October 2008?

Three points for either club would mean plenty on Saturday, more especially given their very presentable league positions.

Expect Stendel and McCann to be participants in the passion play and enjoy the moment with their people should it be afforded them come 5pm on Saturday. As it should be.