Having knocked cultured Norwich City out of the FA Cup last Saturday and drawn 2-2 with aggressive, direct Cardiff City on Wednesday, now they travel to a Nottingham Forest side whose form has improved under Chris Hughton, but whose perilous Championship position mean they cannot afford to ease up.
Twelve points above the relegation zone, in all honesty, Barnsley probably could were it not for the fact they have Ismael as their coach.
“We have 35 points, our purpose is 50 so we need to get 15 more points and we want to start in Nottingham,” he says. “We have 20 matches remaining and our focus is to get 15 points as soon as possible.”
It is not just the players he is demanding of. Having made it plain he wants – needs – another forward after letting Elliot Simoes and Luke Thomas leave on loan (Carlton Morris has joined from Norwich City), he says chief executive Dane Murphy is working “with the same intensity that we play with on the pitch” to get him one.
It is important he succeeds.
A lack of transfer market ambition was a bone of contention for predecessors Daniel Stendel and Gerhard Struber, and former Bayern Munich centre-back Ismael does not strike you as someone who would simply meet the disappointment with a Gallic shrug of the shoulders. It would certainly be a brave man who tried to find out.
“We will see what happens in the next few days but it will be a fight until the last second,” says Ismael ahead of Monday’s 11pm transfer deadline. “I am confident because we have a few names. I would be happy with them all.”
Yesterday Isaac Christie-Davies joined DAC 04 on loan until the end of the season but just as importantly as getting a striker in, Ismael is “very confident” of keeping all his frontline players.
To have to adapt from style to style at the drop of a hat is one of the things Ismael, who had a brief spell as a Crystal Palace player, came to English football’s second tier to experience.
“We learn quickly about all the situations we face,” he says proudly of his players.
“I’m very overjoyed about the job in the Championship. It’s good to see when we are on the same page we can adapt quickly.
“We lost three games in a row in the Championship (before the Cardiff draw) and we couldn’t accept that.
“The Championship is a tough league and every team has quality. Forest are a big club and they have a big manager with lots of experience.”
There are always things to work on. Barnsley led 2-0 approaching the hour on Wednesday only to concede twice at set pieces.
“We will work on video clips,” promises Ismael. “We did it again.
“It was sloppy. We need to be ruthless in our decisions. The good thing is when you play every three days you have a chance to put it right quickly.”
Sloppiness is not something he will accept – relentless ruthlessness is the only way under Ismael.
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