MARKUS Schopp will not ‘kill’ the ‘great work’ that Valerien Ismael did last season but will move away from his predecessor’s ‘very direct’ style while hoping to replicate his top six finish.
The Austrian moved to Oakwell from SV Hartberg last month, a week after Ismael left for West Bromwich Albion.
Schopp spoke to the media for the first time this week.
He told the Chronicle: “It is always the aim to make it better. That’s what keeps us hungry.
“It is my job to tell this to the players so that they do not think they have reached the high peak. They can do better. That is the process we are in and it’s very interesting.”
Schopp added: “The bar is very high but this is our business in football.
“It’s not my intention to say ‘we cannot achieve this again’. It’s a big challenge but it’s my aim.Last season was really good, but I want to do even better. The play-offs is a big thing and it is our main target, but it is better to talk about that in a few months.”
Ismael took Barnsley to fifth place in the Championship, by far their best finish in more than two decades, before losing in the play-off semi-finals to Swansea City. His style of ‘vertical football’ involved many long balls, with players instructed to loft the ball forward quickly whereas Schopp’s style has previously been to play it out from the back as shown in Wednesday’s friendly at Rochdale.
Schopp told the Chronicle: “The most important thing is that he (Ismael) was very successful and did a great job.
“We can’t kill everything that happened last season, but it is up to us to add to the team.
“We want to keep a certain intensity when we don’t have the ball, but we also want to create something when we have the ball.
“We need the players to follow this and that is the process we are in.”
Schopp added: “I want to put all my ideas to the players and to bring a certain style which is a good mix.
“Ismael was very direct in possession and intense off the ball. It is up to us to see how that fits with my style.”
Schopp admits he was impressed by the calibre of Barnsley’s squad after previously working in the Austrian league.
“The biggest difference is that we have a lot of quality players who play in this intense style. It was impressive the first two weeks because the team is focused and really hungry which is the most important thing for me.
“They want to get to the next level and I am here to help them do that.”
Schopp is looking forward to playing in front of large crowds once the Championship season begins, with sports stadiums able to welcome supporters in full capacity from Monday as Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.
Schopp told the Chronicle: “I have been watching some games with the crowd and it’s very different.
“To be part of that in England will be something special.
“I am looking forward to having the stadiums full to get this feeling again. Everybody in this business was looking forward to this moment.”
He added: “That is what I am most looking forward to. To be in this storm of energy which comes from the stands.
“I like the intensity in the English game, to play every couple of days, and to be part of that process while putting my ideas in.
“If we bring our energy on the field, the audience will bring the same energy. I am pretty sure the audience will be very important for us.”