Considering it is only the first week of November and only a third of the way into the season, to talk of ‘relegation battles’ and games being ‘six-pointers’ may seem churlish.
However, with the Tykes’ dismal away form continuing and a poor result in front of the Sky cameras last Saturday at home against Hull City, tomorrow's game against Leicester City suddenly looks highly significant.
Barnsley sit in 17th place in the Championship, with 16 points and Leicester City in 19th place with 15 points. If results go against the Reds, they could find themselves sitting just one place above the relegation zone come Saturday night.
The Foxes, in their last three fixtures, have come away with two wins, a highly impressive away win at Elland Road where the 2-1 score flattered the home team and a vital 1-0 win at the Walkers Stadium over fellow strugglers Preston.
Mark Robins and his players will know that with such a poor away record this season, there is huge pressure to win at home. If this now starts to desert the Tykes, then it really will be a winter of discontent for all concerned at Oakwell.
It is a well worn football cliché that managers approach ‘one game at a time’, however Robins knows that the fixture tomorrow and that on Tuesday at Deepdale could define the whole season.
Defeats to Leicester and Preston would be crushing to the confidence of the team and could provoke some nervous reactions in the Oakwell boardroom. It could leave Robins looking nervously over his shoulder come Tuesday night. A win tomorrow and a point at Preston and Barnsley have a platform to build on to stabilise.
There is undoubtedly pressure starting to mount at Oakwell and this appears to come through in Robins’ observations ahead of the game tomorrow.
“I am sure that if we are right then it will be a tough game for them. We are only concerned with our own game and if we are on it then it will be a difficult one for them. We have to step up mentally as a side and as a club and go for three points. We have to make it happen.”
Now is a time for calm heads and no panic from the Chairman, the directors, the manager and the players. The Oakwell faithful can play their part too, in turning out in numbers tomorrow, being patient with their team and keeping the faith. Crisis? What crisis. Three points tomorrow and the world will look a different place.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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