Michael Duff puts Barnsley FC's League One consistency down to 'dirty work' and togetherness

A fortnight without a game is not what Barnsley wanted as they have hit a vein of consistency, but manager Michael Duff says "the dirty work" is behind his team's reliability.

The Reds have won their last six league and FA Cup matches – there is a Football League Trophy defeat breaking up the sequence – and sit fourth in League One.

So they will be glad of Oakwell’s undersoil with Burton Albion due on Saturday having lost the previous week’s game at Oxford United.

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With a top three of Plymouth Argyle, Ipswich Town and Sheffield Wednesday setting a relentless pace, the other promotion wannabes cannot afford many slip-ups.

TOGETHERNESS: Michael Duff has built a team spirit at BarnsleyTOGETHERNESS: Michael Duff has built a team spirit at Barnsley
TOGETHERNESS: Michael Duff has built a team spirit at Barnsley

"Consistency of performances is the key – if you do enough things right all the time, the result will look after itself," said Duff, facing a relegation-threatened Burton who have drawn their last four in the league.

"You've got to give yourself the best opportunity by doing the hard yards and the dirty work. You can affect the game when you're playing badly. I say to the guys all the time you don't have to be playing well to run around and help your mates.

"It's turning off days into okay days and that gives you a better chance of turning a loss into a draw and a draw into a win."

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Underlaying it all is the fewest goals conceded in the division, which Duff largely attributes to hard work.

"We have what we call our team beliefs and none of them are technical or tactical," he explained. "It's the glue that holds performance together.

"Lionel Messi literally does what he wants but he's Lionel Messi – there's not many of them about in League One. We don't have anyone like that so we need 11 players at it and if they're not, they need to be buying into the team because if the team wins, we all win.

"You can be having the worst game in the world but as long as you're helping your team-mates you can walk off the pitch a winner.

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"If you make it all about you, you'll walk off the pitch a loser and your mate will walk off the pitch a loser. It's getting that consistency to give yourself an opportunity to win the game.

"In the Peterborough game we did really well, all that nitty-gritty, horrible stuff and two moments of magic (from Luca Connell and Adam Phillips) to win the game. If we hadn't done all the nitty-gritty stuff, those two moments of magic would have counted for nothing.

"The players recognise that and I don't think I'm being disrespectful, I don't think we've got a 30-goal striker so we have to find a different way to win.

"But even if we did have a 30-goal striker I'd still want to make it about the team and not that one person because the team always wins, the unit is always more powerful than the individual, and it's not just the XI who are playing.

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"If you're not in the team, your job is to support and to push the person in the team to make him think, 'I might need to step up.'"

Defender Tom Edwards is a doubt with another knock in training, whilst Barnsley are one of a number of clubs fighting a sickness bug.

"We'll pick the team we think is healthiest and fittest," said Duff.