‘Big team, big club’ – Barnsley boss wary of Stoke City as he guns for fourth win on the spin


Barnsley manager Valerien Ismael is not looking beyond a fixture with Stoke City despite growing whispers of a play-off push around Oakwell.

Three wins on the bounce – including away at Brentford and Bristol City – have propelled Barnsley to 10th in the Championship, level on points with Stoke, and four points outside the top six.

But Ismael is trying to stay grounded, having inherited a team that only just stayed in the division last season.

He said: “The focus is only on the next game, and that is tomorrow night against a good Stoke City side.

“They are another big team, another big club in this division with another top manager.

“We have a good feeling, the team spirit is excellent and my players are hungry to make the next step.

“We haven’t won four games in a row this season, so we want to keep moving on the table. But the desire has to be right and we must be clinical in our performance to get the result.”

Former Crystal Palace and Bayern Munich defender Ismael landed at Barnsley in October, having previously managed in Germany, Greece and Austria.

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He was the manager who was promoted from the under-23s to take over Wolfsburg in 2016/17 – and immediately froze out loanee Philipp Wollscheid.

Wollscheid, in turn, went to play for the club’s under-23s side in a regional league and was then promoted back to the first team when Ismael was sacked after three months in the saddle.

Ismael has installed a high energy game plan, with Callum Styles and Alex Mowatt busy in midfield and Michal Helik and Mads Andersen impressive in defence.

He said: “Other than Ben Williams and Liam Kitching, obviously, we have a fit squad ready for another big week of football.

“Our purpose is to have options and to play with intensity and belief. The players’ quality is important too, but we must keep being unpleasant to play against.

“I know the strengths of my players, I know how to get results. I don’t care what others say about my team.”

The bet365 Stadium will host pre-season dinner

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Pre-match trivia

  • Barnsley are winless in five league games against Stoke (D3 L2) since a 1-0 win back in February 2007.
  • Stoke are looking to win consecutive away league games against Barnsley for the first time since September 1919.
  • Barnsley have won seven home league matches this season, as many as they managed last season. They last won more in a Championship season back in 2012-13 (9).
  • Since keeping six consecutive away league clean sheets, Stoke have shipped goals in each of their last four on the road, including four in a 4-1 defeat to Norwich last time out, their most in an away Championship game since losing 5-0 to Leeds in July 2020.
  • Stoke’s Nick Powell has failed to score in all three of his league starts against Barnsley – in his only substitute appearance, he scored a hat-trick in April 2017 for Wigan, netting his treble in 11-minutes.





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