BARNSLEY head coach Neill Collins said he’s been pleased with what he’s seen at Oakwell so far but admits that the side need to improve if they’re to push for promotion this season.
The Scotsman joined the Reds on July 6 on an initial two-year deal having been the manager at USL Championship side Tampa Bay Rowdies for five years.
It’s his first managerial appointment in England - but he told the Chronicle that League One hasn’t really changed since he was in the country as a player.
He added there are some differences in coaching in the United States.
“The environment we coached in in terms of the heat obviously makes the game very different,” he said.
“I think here you’ve ultimately got promotion and relegation.
“Everyone is playing for something.
“Everyone should be playing like their life depends on it and every point matters.
“You’ll play someone at the bottom of the league but they’re defending for their lives.
“It brings the tension but also the excitement.
“Outside of that it’s still just football.
“I know League One as a player, I know English football - there’s nothing that’s particularly changed and I think Saturday (against Derby County) was a big reminder of that.
“If you don’t defend balls in the box then you’re going to find it quite difficult - and that’s where we were.”
Reflecting on his time at Oakwell so far, Collins said it’s been a ‘whirlwind’ - but admits there’s plenty to improve on if the club are going to push for promotion this season.
“It feels like it’s gone really quickly.
“You come in in the middle of pre-season and it’s a whirlwind with the transfer window - that’s just how that time period is.
“Since then it’s been good in terms of the team showing a bit of consistency.
“But even then, whether it’s been international breaks - I think we’ve been unfortunate with injuries.
“Really key pieces to what we want to achieve.
“U think we’re in a good place in the lead considering the turnover we’ve had.
“We know there’s lots to improve.
“I think in the first 15 games we have improved and over the next 15 games we’ll improve.”
The 40-year-old head coach said that the players haven’t been playing like they should have for Barnsley in recent weeks - and he addressed the issue with the squad.
“The message is make sure the mentality is right to compete with the desire that you should have when you play for Barnsley,” he said.
“The last couple of games that’s not been at the level it should have been.
“I think we had a good spell heading into Horsham (at home) and then that game was more subconscious -the players were up for it but subconsciously they were taken by surprise and caught out three times.
“Sometimes you out that down to the FA Cup.
“But then on Saturday I saw the exact same signs - when it becomes a pattern I address it.
“I think they’ve done really well but we can’t have that if we’re going to compete.”
Barnsley have not beaten any side in the current top half of the League One table - and Collins admits that’s not good enough.
“We did beat Wigan who without their points deduction would have been in the top half,” he said.
“But of course it’s been an issue - we’ve not handled some of the top teams as well.
“It’s something that we’re quite clearly going to need to improve.
“For me on Saturday, I just thought at important times in the game we were very naive and didn’t do some of the basics.
“Whether you’re playing Derby or a team in the bottom half then you need to be able to deal with aerial balls.
“I thought we were way below par in those moments.
“In the league table you need to beat as many teams as you can - and we need to pick up points against the top half as well.