Barnsley could fall to the bottom of the Championship table tomorrow if Stoke City better their result. They are currently winless in ten league matches which is their longest such run since the end of 2017 under Paul Heckingbottom. Should they fail to beat Swansea tomorrow, the run will be the longest since late 2012 under Keith Hill while, if it stretches beyond Tuesday’s trip to West Bromwich Albion, it will be the worst since 1971.
Swansea are currently fourth in the table, one point off the lead, while the Reds are second-bottom and a point off the foot of the table. Barnsley fans have expressed frustration with the club’s handling of Daniel Stendel’s departure last week.
Caretaker Murray said: “We’re all realistic. We understand that supporters will be frustrated when you are not winning games. My message would be: show the incredible support you can show to the players from the first minute to the last. “It’s not about me or the situation, it’s about the players.
“If the fans support them with their normal enthusiasm, that’s all we can ask. Getting the fans behind us is more important than any tactical plan, especially being at home. I have seen the power these supporters have and the noise they make. We will need that for 90 minutes on Saturday. There might be a mistake or a bad pass but we need the support from the stands for 90 minutes.”
The Reds have collected just two points from their last five home games, but secured a last-minute draw with Derby County in their most recent Oakwell fixture to end a three-match losing run there. That follows a 29-game unbeaten run at Oakwell in the league which lasted 17 months and was the best sequence since the 1930s.
Tomorrow’s visitors were relegated last year after a seven-season spell in the Premier League then finished tenth under the management of Graham Potter who was poached by top flight Brighton and Hove Albion in the summer. They also lost top-scorer Oliver McBurnie, who had previously impressed on loan to Barnsley, to Sheffield United for £17million and winger Daniel James to Manchester United for £15million.
Very little of that money has been reinvested back into the playing squad as the club has been riddled with significant debts while reports this week have suggested that the American owners would be willing to sell.
They gave a first club manager’s position to Welshman Steve Cooper who, in four years as England under 17s boss, had worked with Barnsley right-back Jordan Williams then later led a team containing Jadon Sancho and Phil Foden to win the World Cup in 2017.
Cooper made an excellent start as the Swans’ seven wins and one draw in all competitions in August left them top of the Championship with 16 points from a possible 18. But their form after the first international break was less impressive as they collected five points from as many games.
They were still top until losing at home to bottom club Stoke City in the final game before the second international break, which saw them drop to fourth. The Swans are unbeaten away from home this season in the league, with wins at QPR, Leeds and Charlton as well as goalless draws at Derby County and Bristol City. T
hey have only conceded two goals from their five away games, which is the best away defensive record in the EFL while only Premier League leaders Liverpool have an equal record in the top five English divisions.
Murray said: “They are a very good team. They are not in their position by being a poor team. The manager has done fantastically, going from international football to club football. He’s got them playing a good brand and style of football. Our focus is on us but we’ll be aware of their strengths and weaknesses.
"I don’t think we can be more tested than in two games against Swansea and West Brom. They are two fantastic teams but, if you don’t want to face these challenges in football, then there’s something wrong with you. It will be a great test for us to show how far we have come in the last two weeks.”
This will be Barnsley’s first game against Swansea in more than seven years. The clubs have met 72 times, with the Reds winning 24 and City 35. Swansea are unbeaten in five trips to Oakwell across 36 years.
Barnsley’s League One play-off final penalty shoot-out win over Swansea in 2006 – in which first team coach Dale Tonge played along with academy coaches Bobby Hassell and Martin Devaney – was the only time they have beaten the Welsh club in 12 meetings since 1983.
After the play-off final win, the two clubs have met on eight occasions with Barnsley losing five and drawing three. The last league fixture was a 1-1 draw in Barnsley in January 2011 when a Swansea side on their way to the Premier League needed an 86th-minute penalty after Hassell had opened the scoring.
The clubs met twice in 2012 as Swansea won 4-2 at Oakwell in the FA Cup, despite a Ricardo Vaz Te brace, then 3-1 in Wales in the League Cup with Hassell again scoring for the Reds.