MARKUS Schopp is looking forward to welcoming back the majority of Barnsley fans to Oakwell tomorrow and is desperate to reward them for their 18-month wait with victory.
The Reds – who began their Championship season with a 1-1 league draw at Cardiff City on Saturday then lost on penalties in the EFL Cup at Bolton Wanderers on Tuesday – are due to host Coventry City from 3pm tomorrow then Luton Town on Tuesday.
Tomorrow’s match will be the first time most Barnsley fans have returned to Oakwell in almost 18 months due to the coronavirus crisis, although about 4,000 did attend the home leg of the play-off semi-final against Swansea City in May. Schopp told the Chronicle: “We are one week into the season and we had two away games so to play at home will be something special.
“The fans will be looking forward to coming to a game for the first time in many months and we are looking forward to seeing them. We want to reward them for their long wait with a good performance and a win. We have to feel the atmosphere and use it.”
Schopp added: “We will be so sharp that everybody who is in the stadium will be pleased about how we show up.
“I could feel the energy from the supporters in the away end in Cardiff and in Bolton and now I look forward to seeing them in our stadium.”
Schopp wants better finishing than the Reds showed in their matches this week.
“In both games we played OK but results didn’t work out how we wanted them to. But the team performs and tries their best until the last season which shows me we are going in the right direction. We have to be more concentrated in the last third. We have been unlucky with refereeing decisions but we need to force it more, be more clinical in the last third and, if we do that, we will get the three points.”
The Sky Blues have returned to Coventry this season after two years as tenants at Birmingham City.
They began their season at home to Nottingham Forest on Sunday afternoon at the CBS Arena, formerly the Ricoh Arena, and came from behind to win 2-1 thanks to goals in the 81st and 96th minutes. They then lost 2-1 at home to League Two Northampton Town in the EFL Cup on Wednesday.
Schopp said: “They are a very interesting team. They won their first game and came from behind which always gives confidence. They have quality with a couple of really good players in there. It is up to us to be brave in possession and find the right solutions, but their coach will have the same wish for his team.”
Former Barnsley manager Mark Robins has been in charge of Coventry for more than four years in his second spell in the role, while his assistant is ex Reds player Adi Viveash.
Robins has led the Sky Blues to promotions out of League Two and League One before securing a 16th-placed finish last season in their first campaign back in the Championship.
Since leaving Oakwell in 2011 following a 20-month spell, he has lost just two of ten league meetings with the Reds in charge of Huddersfield, Scunthorpe and now Coventry – with the last five bringing three wins and two draws.
Robins’ Coventry are unbeaten in their last four meetings with the Reds, winning the home match and drawing at Oakwell in both the 2018/19 League One campaign and last season.
Last September, the Sky Blues played out a drab 0-0 draw in Gerhard Struber’s final Oakwell fixture before moving to New York Red Bulls.
Coventry then won 2-0 at home to Barnsley at St Andrew’s in April.
City have not won any of their last six league games at Oakwell, losing four in a row before drawing the last two.
Meanwhile, Tuesday’s visitors Luton – who finished 12th last season after surviving on the final day of 2019/20 like Barnsley – began their campaign with a 3-0 home win over newly-promoted Peterborough United on Saturday.
They then lost 3-0 on penalties at League Two Stevenage in the EFL Cup on Tuesday following a 2-2 draw.
Luton’s contingent of former Barnsley players, which almost reached double figures in recent seasons, has been reduced by the departures this summer of Matty Pearson, George Moncur, Martin Cranie and Ryan Tunnicliffe.
But Oakwell academy graduates James Bree and Jordan Clark, who is from Hoyland, started the opening league game, while Elliot Lee started Tuesday’s cup game. Luke Berry is also a Hatter.
Barnsley captain Cauley Woodrow began his career with Luton.
The Reds won 2-1 at Kenilworth Road on Easter Monday, with Daryl Dike netting a brace before he missed a penalty for a hat-trick with Luton counter-attacking and scoring. Barnsley had lost their opening league game of last season 1-0 at home to Luton, who also won 3-1 at Oakwell early in the previous campaign. The Bedforshire club have lost just once at Oakwell – a 3-2 League One defeat in 2018 – in their last seven visits since 1995, winning five.
Luton visit West Bromwich Albion tomorrow before arriving at Oakwell on Tuesday for a 7.45pm kick-off.