Poya Asbaghi: It’s Barnsley FC versus the world

ONE glance at the Championship table conveys the importance of Barnsley’s weekend trip to fellow strugglers Peterborough United in an instant.

New head coach Poya Asbaghi, whose second-from-bottom team are six points adrift of safety – and five behind the side currently just above them in Posh – and in dire need of a first away success of the campaign on Saturday.

Victory could provide a starting point to a winter fightback after a wretched autumn.

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But conversely, a defeat – allied to results elsewhere – would leave the Reds in a parlous position ahead of a December schedule which sees them face third-placed West Brom and play-off contenders Huddersfield Town, Stoke City and Blackburn Rovers.

Poya Asbaghi: Barnsley’s new head coach after his opening game against Swansea. (Picture: PA)

Asbaghi himself is leaving the number-crunching to others.

He said: “I know everybody is looking at the table and counting points. Of course, we are aware of the situation and which teams are higher up and in our region.

“But for us, it is really important to understand what we need to work on as players and coaches and we cannot keep looking at the table and getting stressed.

“I understand everyone else can do it and fans are allowed to do it. But we, who work on it every day, must focus on what we need to improve. Hopefully, when we do that, we can develop and look at the table later and say good.”

Barnsley manager Poya Asbaghi during his first Sky Bet Championship match at Oakwell Stadium, Barnsley on Wednesday (Picture: Zac Goodwin/PA Wire)

At this same juncture two years ago, Barnsley were in a similar position in the table and effectively 10 points adrift of safety, before sowing the seeds of a fightback with three wins and three draws before the end of 2019.

It was then that signs of a siege mentality and fight began to emerge under Gerhard Struber and Asbaghi is anxious to see similar defiance in the weeks ahead.

He added: “It’s Barnsley against the world. When I say Barnsley, I mean me, the coaching staff and players, but also the fans against the world. The only way we can show that the ‘world’ is wrong and go against the odds is if we achieve everything together.

“If we keep the spirit, we can prove them wrong after the last whistle.

“The fans are just as desperate to be lifted up as the players. Just as much as coaches and players have a responsibility to do things well on the pitch and lift the crowd, I think our players are just as dependent on the cheering from the crowd to lift it.”