Alex Mowatt admits last week was one of the worst of his career but says Barnsley now have to move on from the shock exit of Daniel Stendel.

The German left the club following a 5-1 loss at Preston North End and was replaced by caretaker Adam Murray while the Reds’ board look for a permanent replacement.

Central midfielder Mowatt, 24, was set to be sold in the summer of last year after a difficult first 18 months at the club which saw him loaned out. But Stendel made him a key part of his side that won promotion last season, in which he started every game.

Mowatt told the Chronicle: “I would say it was one of hardest weeks I’ve had in football. I have been there when managers have gone quite a lot of times but this was a gaffer who really believed and trusted in me. It was hard for me.  I probably wouldn’t have played much for the club if it wasn’t for him.  He was a big influence on me and quite a lot of the lads.”

Asked if the players discussed what sort of manager they would like in the long-term, Mowatt said: “We don’t think too much about the future, we just have to play for the manager who is in charge at the time, which is Muz.”

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Mowatt admits a change in manager was not expected but says the players have to improve their performances for the rest of the season. “It was the biggest shock of all the managers I’ve seen leave at any club because of how well we did last season. Even though we haven’t been as good this season, it is still a shock.

“But the results haven’t been right and we haven’t been playing well enough. After everything we had done last season, we lost big players coming into this season and it was going to be difficult.  “The players have to take most of the responsibility. It’s us who are out there making the silly mistakes.

“We want to get back to winning and not conceding five like at Preston. No matter who is in charge we need to give our best and win games. We felt sorry for ourselves at Preston and you can’t be like that on a football pitch.  After that defeat, we need to put things right and be competitive because we weren’t at Preston.

“A lot of people have to step up. I know we’re young but we’re in the Championship and we have to be men. I’ve seen all the fans are gutted the gaffer left but hopefully we can get a result for them.”

Mowatt is glad the Reds have had the two-week international break to work with Murray. He said: “It’s been good timing. The way he wants to play is different and we have been working on that so it’s good to have two weeks rather than a week. We have been working hard, the intensity of training has been high and it’s been fun.

"We’ve been working on a few things out of possession and with our shape. The fans might see a different style on Saturday. We need to start picking up points. I know we’re coming up against teams at the top of the table but these are the games we want to play in.”

Mowatt is the player in the Barnsley squad with the most experience in the Championship, as he is approaching his 150th game at that level. He is making 2.8 ‘key passes’ – those deemed to have led to a chance – per game which is the second highest number in the Championship this season. He has captained the side when club skipper Mike Bahre has not been in the team. 

“I have really enjoyed it, I like being captain and it’s a massive honour.”