Martin Devaney will be looking to ‘put a bit of pride back into the club’ and give the fans something to cheer when he takes charge of Barnsley for the first time as caretaker at home to Blackpool from 7.45pm tonight.
The Reds were relegated from the Championship on Friday then head coach Poya Asbaghi left on Sunday, with former Barnsley player Devaney taking over for the final three games.
Devaney said: “The message from me will be that we have to give the fans something to cheer. It’s at home, there’s no pressure, let’s enjoy it and show a winning mentality then have the fans and players proud and pleased with the performance.
“We need to put a bit of pride back into the club, make sure everyone is 100 per cent and that the desire, mentality and commitment is there to win football matches. They are playing for the futures.
“Under me there will be commitment, people running and fighting. I have put that little bit of pressure on the guys to do that. I know what a Barnsley team looks like.
“My hands are tied a little bit but we will be high-energy and on the front foot. I want to play forward through the lines as quick as possible, that doesn’t just mean long hopeful balls. I want my players to express themselves in attack. I got a good response in training and I am looking forward to the game.”
When Barnsley have been relegated previously with games to spare, loan players have returned to their parent clubs. It is currently unclear whether that will happen.
Devaney is expected to give more opportunities to some of the players he worked with in the under 23s.
“There will a couple of younger players playing. It’s an opportunity to give them a platform and use that experience to bed them in for next season. Potentially there could be a couple of under 23s starting or on the bench who haven’t played much until now.”
Devante Cole, Josh Benson and Aapo Halme are out injured, along with long-term absentees Brad Collins, Michal Helik and Jordan Williams.
Devaney will be assisted against Blackpool by Tom Harban, with Jo Laumann currently on a coaching course.
The Seasiders, who were promoted via the play-offs for this season, are 15th in the table.
Blackpool had been on poor form since the international break, with a point from four games, but thrashed Birmingham City 6-1 on Monday of last week then drew 1-1 at high-flying Luton Town on Saturday.
Blackpool have won just one of their last 14 away games since October, losing eight. Only the bottom three have fewer away wins this season than their four.
Both of Blackpool’s regular central midfielders used to play for Barnsley.
Callum Connolly, who made his professional debut during a brief loan to the Reds from Everton in the 2015/16 season, could start alongside Kenny Dougall who has played nearly every game.
Dougall, the 28-year-old Australian international, played 43 games for the Reds before being released at the end of his contract in the summer of 2020, days after playing at QPR in the first game back behind-closed-doors during the first Covid-19 lockdown.
The Reds lost 1-0 at Blackpool on September 25, the first of seven successive defeats which led to the sacking of Markus Schopp. The Tangerines have not won at Oakwell in the league since Boxing Day 2011, drawing one then losing the last three.
Devaney said: “They are good, well-organised tam,. They are similar to what I want in that they want to play forward quickly and they have a lot of energy.
“They have done well. They got the bounce from promotion and carried it through. They are comfortable in mid-table but I am sure they want to win the last three games. It will be tough.”