Simon previews Barnsley derby
Huddersfield Town Manager Simon Grayson believes Saturday’s Yorkshire derby at Barnsley has all the ingredients to make a cracking game!
Town travel to Oakwell looking to make it seven points from a possible nine and Grayson is relishing the short journey south on Saturday.
“I think Oakwell certainly creates a good atmosphere and there will be good numbers behind the goal at the weekend. Barnsley fans come out in force and are very passionate and vocal about their team too and it has all the ingredients of being a fantastic game,” Simon told htafc.com.
“I have good and bad memories of being at Oakwell, but they are in the past and I’m looking at what we’re trying to do in the future now. I’m looking forward to the weekend.”
The Barnsley game is one of several Yorkshire derbies for Town in the coming months and Simon admitted that does add a little extra spice to the fixture.
“The Yorkshire derbies are coming thick and fast over the next few weeks as we face Leeds and Hull too. We want the bragging rights and to be putting a smile on our supporters’ faces when they go to work on a Monday morning, but the most important thing is to get the three points so we can try and improve our position.”
Onlookers may believe Town are slight favourites going into the weekend judging by both teams’ respective starts to the season, but Grayson was adamant that isn’t the case:
“I certainly don’t look at us as the favourites – I think we are the underdogs in almost every game that we’ll go into this season. Barnsley have been in the Championship for many years now and have done well; Keith has done well on limited resources too. Just because we are above them in the table right now doesn’t make the game any easier; I’m sure they’ll want to get one over us in a local derby match.
“I’ve found out in the past that Oakwell is a very tough place to go when you are involved in a Yorkshire derby, but it’s a game that we are looking forward to and one that we know we can go and win. We’re looking to put on a performance that will help us achieve that, but if we have to try and grind a result out we will try to do that too. It should be a cracking game.
“I watched Barnsley against Birmingham and they absolutely destroyed them that night – to win 5-0 away from home in the Championship is fantastic. I was talking to the Blackburn staff after our game on Tuesday night and they also said that Barnsley were one of the best teams they had played this season too in the way they pass the ball around and create opportunities, so we’re under no illusions – this is a really tough game.”
In fact, Simon admitted that the Club has one basic aim from this campaign:
“Success for us this year is to finish fourth from bottom. That’s the only expectancy level that Dean has on us and the players – to stay in the division. If we finish any higher we’ve had a fantastic season, because we’ve been out of the Championship a long time. We’ve got a good group together and we’ve had a good start, so hopefully we can push on and try to achieve more.
“Anyone that knows me will know I’m a very dour Yorkshireman who plays everything down anyway! I warned everyone that we would have some dark days and we did at Peterborough and Millwall. We still have two thirds of the season to go and anything can happen – we could have a bad run or a fantastic one.
“Don’t get me wrong – we have our own aims of what we’d like to do and I’m not saying that I’d settle for fourth from bottom. I demand high standards from the players every time we’re on the training pitch and they know that if they slip below that it won’t be tolerated. We have a positive attitude running through the football club from top to bottom; the supporters love every minute of it at this moment in time and hopefully we’ll look back on this season as a successful one when it ends.
“I want to win every football match I’m involved in as a Manager, so we’ll set the team out to be hard to beat and looking to win the game.”
Barnsley boss Keith Hill has made no secret of the fact that they were also chasing Town new boy Simon Church before he joined the Terriers and Grayson wasn’t surprised that the Reading man was in demand:
“I know that Simon Church probably had a lot of options of other clubs to go to over the last week or so once he was made available for loan. We looked at him over the summer, but Reading were reluctant to let him out; once we got the call that he was available, we moved very quickly. Once again the Chairman gave me his full backing and we went out and did it.
“When I spoke to Simon he was enthusiastic about playing First Team football and he’s a good player. He has proved he can handle the division and he’s hungry for success and games. Hopefully he fits the bill in what we’re looking for and vice versa.
“He’s a wholehearted player. He works extremely hard – which I want all our players to do here – and he has an eye for a goal. For someone so young he has also played a lot of games and has experienced top level football on the international stage too. He can play down the middle or wide, so he gives us that flexibility as well.
“He’s been nice and sharp on the training ground. He’ll have a nice buzz knowing that he’ll be in the squad at the weekend.
“It’s a real coup that we’ve got him here, because the players coming out of the Premier League are not cheap – so once again the Chairman takes credit for that. I think that as a Club we are showing our intent through the players we are attracting – people see this as a good place to come.
“The Chairman and I want young, hungry players who have the bit between their teeth and will give their all for this football club, whether they are on loan or coming permanently.
“We are nowhere near one of the biggest budgets in the division – there are many clubs with far bigger budgets than us. We’re working with a competitive budget and we’re working within that structure; we have to balance the books like every other club.”
However, Grayson stressed that Church’s arrival doesn’t necessarily mean its bad news on the injury front for Town’s other forwards:
“James Vaughan is a doubt for the weekend again, whereas ‘Becks’ (Jermaine Beckford) will be a close call. He has trained again this morning, so we’ll see how he settles down over the next 48 hours – but if there is any doubt he won’t play, because we’d rather be without him for another week than lose him for six.
“Simon became available to us and we’ve always said we’re looking to improve the squad regardless of injuries. He gives us great competition. Lee Novak played very well over the last two games and got two goals the other night, whereas Alan Lee came on for 25 minutes and really affected the game. You need competition for places in the squad and we’ve got that here.”
Elsewhere in the team defender Jack Hunt is available after his recent two match ban:
“It’s nice to have Jack back after his two match ban. However, the team has got four points from a possible six in that time and he’ll have to wait to see if he can get back into the team.
“We’ve got good competition. Anthony Gerrard has done well for us this season and Danny Ward came on the other night and made an impact.”
2,950 Town fans have already bought their Barnsley ticket – find out how to get yours HERE!