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Valerien Ismael has Barnsley dreaming of the Premier League

When Valerien Ismael was appointed as the new Barnsley head coach last October, the Tykes sat 21st in the Championship. Since then, only Norwich and Brentford have won more points than the South Yorkshire team.

Gerhard Struber had started the season in the dug-out at Oakwell. He guided the club to Championship safety on the final day of the 2019/20 season, when the Tykes scored an injury-time winner away to Brentford. However, he departed the Reds for New York Red Bulls in the MLS. Struber felt aggrieved at the lack of ambition shown by those at the top of the club’s hierarchy.

The influence of Valerien Ismael at Barnsley

It’s safe to say, Ismael’s side is showing no lack of ambition, as the Tykes recorded a club record seventh-straight victory in the second-tier on Saturday. Daryl Dike scored the crucial goal in a 1-0 home win over Birmingham City- this left the Reds sat in the last playoff spot ahead of a home match against Derby tomorrow evening.

BARNSLEY, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 15: Valerien Ismael, head coach of Barnsley celebrates after their sides second goal scored by Victor Adeboyejo (Not pictured) of Barnsley during the Sky Bet Championship match between Barnsley and Preston North End at Oakwell Stadium on December 15, 2020 in Barnsley, England. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

Barnsley’s first Championship victory didn’t arrive until gameweek eight when they defeated QPR 3-0. The Reds had previously recorded four draws and three defeats in the league, resulting in many fans preparing themselves for another relegation battle this season.

The Frenchman’s influence on a youthful and energetic side cannot be underestimated. Callum Styles and Callum Brittain have flourished under Ismael’s philosophy of high-energy pressing of opponents and direct style-of-play.

The South Yorkshire sides progress over recent months was recently highlighted by their narrow 1-0 defeat to Chelsea in the FA Cup. After losing 6-0 against the same opposition earlier this season in the Carabao Cup.

Promotion to the Premier League?

The club has previously played in the Premier League- this came in 1997/98. They eventually got relegated after finishing 19th and have suffered mixed fortunes ever since.

With 12 games left for Ismael’s team this season and some favourable fixtures ahead, you would not bet against them securing a playoff position. The addition of Carlton Morris from Norwich City seems a very astute piece of January business. The striker has scored four goals already.

BARNSLEY, ENGLAND – MARCH 23: A general view of The Oakwell Stadium, home of Barnsley Football Club on March 23, 2020 in Barnsley, England (Photo by Visionhaus)

If the side from Oakwell do secure a place in the play-offs, they will fancy themselves, despite the ‘underdog’ label. Although, the significance of even achieving a top-half finish would far outweigh the initial objectives at the start of the campaign. Ismael will remain focused on the next fixture. With Derby up-next, Barnsley aim to extend their winning streak to eight games.

The Championship Crowd Podcast

For a preview of Barnsley vs Derby and greater insight into the latest Championship news, then listen to this week’s Championship Crowd Podcast. Available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and many more platforms. If you would prefer to watch it visually, then you can access this through the WDSportz YouTube channel.

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