POYA Asbaghi says Barnsley are determined to avoid the humiliation of being relegated live on Sky TV in a Yorkshire derby tonight, but appears to accept they will drop in the coming days.
The Reds – who visit third-placed Huddersfield Town from 7.45pm tonight – are last and 11 points from safety so will be relegated if they do not win.
Even if they do win, they would then have to also win their next three matches and hope fourth-bottom Reading take only one more point from their last three – starting at Hull tomorrow – while also catching Peterborough United who won 2-0 at Oakwell on Monday.
Head coach Asbaghi told the Chronicle: “We don’t want it to finish there.
“The players are really eager to show that the table is one thing but what we can do at our best is another thing.
“Either we show the table is right or that there is more to us than we have shown. If we win, we can somehow decide our own feeling. Maybe a couple of days later we will still be relegated but at least we will have a better feeling and we can show to the fans that there is a promise for the future.”
He added: “We understand and accept the chances of us being relegated, and that the control is with other clubs.”
Asbaghi said the squad are not too deflated despite Monday’s loss removing even any realistic chance of survival. He said: “In one way, the mood is pretty OK. The effort is there in training and people are not too devastated because there are games left and we have to keep going. But you will always be happier when you are higher in the table and winning games. The mood could be much worse than it is. Anything can still happen but, no matter what, we have promised each other to fight until the end for each other and the club.”
Asked what Barnsley could learn from Huddersfield, who have cut their budget after dropping out of the Premier League while blending youth with experience, Asbaghi said: “Barnsley can learn a lot of things from a lot of football clubs.
“But there are probably things other clubs can learn from Barnsley even if they don’t feel like it now because we’re getting relegated.
“Some clubs could learn to have a good balance in the bank account.”
The Reds have collected one win and eight points from 21 games away from home this season which is the EFL’s worst record.
Huddersfield are third, four points off the automatic promotion places – although second-placed Bournemouth have two games in hand – and eight clear of the teams outside the play-off places.
Victory tonight would guarantee them a play-off place.
The Terriers shot into the top six with a 17-game unbeaten run, including nine wins, from late November until mid-March then they lost twice before the international break. They returned with a 1-0 win at Yorkshire neighbours Hull then beat fellow promotion-chasers Luton 2-0 at home before drawing 2-2 at home to QPR on Friday and winning 2-0 at another top ten side Middlesbrough on Monday. They have lost one of their last 12 at home.
Carlos Corberan’s side are known for their set piece prowess, while Barnsley have conceded several goals in recent weeks from corners and free-kicks.
Almost half of Barnsley’s regular starting 11 are under five foot nine.
Asbaghi said: “There is one thing having a good structure and the other is a mentality to not get beaten in your zone. But the bigger players you have, the more likely you will be to defend well and score goals at the other end.
“The goals against Millwall and the second against Peterborough, we can do it better. But it will always be easier when we have a player like Michal Helik. He is injured so others players have to step up, especially against Huddersfield.
“They are the top team on set pieces in the league. If we can be good at that, we take a lot of the advantage away.
“When you are where they are in the table, you don’t only have one strength. Without set pieces, they would be in another position, but they have other qualities. They have a lot of good players who contribute on counter-attacks, they have physical players who are good at defending spaces. But I know that, if we can defend set pieces, it will be up to open play and we will try to make it more even than what anyone will expect.
“We have played two games against them since I arrived and we can take positives from both of them.”
Huddersfield drew 1-1 at Oakwell on December 4, with Carlton Morris netting an equaliser which was the first goal under Asbaghi. Huddersfield then won 1-0 at home in the FA Cup fourth round on February 5.
The Reds’ only win at the John Smith’s Stadium in their last six attempts was last season when Daryl Dike got the only goal, two days short of a year ago, to put them within a win of the play-offs.
Former Barnsley defender Matty Pearson had been an nearly ever-present for the Terriers but is out with a knee injury. Jordan Rhodes, who spent time in the Oakwell academy, has started just four league games this season with 15 substitute appearances and two goals, but he did start and score on Monday.
Scott High, from Hoylandswaine, has played 21 league games for Huddersfield this season but had not featured since January before coming on at Middlesbrough.