Barnsley: Step up will only kick in when Reds get going, says Paul Heckingbottom
Barnsley boss Paul Heckingbottom believes becoming a Championship manager will only register once the league season gets going.
The Reds get their pre-season campaign underway, on the pitch, this afternoon with a trip to Vanarama National League North side Stalybridge Celtic.
Hype around the game surrounds what personnel Heckingbottom will chose to play and in what position as the manager looks to mould his best starting line-up ahead of the new season.
And he has a trio of new players to choose from in the form of George Moncur, Andy Yiadom and Elliot Lee.
Heckingbottom admits he hated pre-season as a player but understands its worth in getting his side ready for their return to the second tier of English football.
“The feeling of being a Championship manager will sink in when the (league) season starts,” revealed Heckingbottom, who led Barnsley to duel Wembley honours last term as they lifted the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy before clinching promotion back to the Championship through the play-offs.
“I used to hate pre-season as a player and I think it’s just as bad now as a manager if I’m honest.
“I just want it to start, but joking aside this period is really important for us.
“The thing about how we play is that we’re a really intense side whether we’re attacking or defending, we demand lots of physical excursion and we make whoever we play have to match us.
“Some of them couldn’t cope with it last year and that’s why pre-season is so important for us.
“Physically we’re going to get them as fit as we can and tactically we’re going to get them prepared so that everyone knows their roles in the team and then we’re going to unleash them on the teams.”
The Reds unleashed a free-flowing style of football last season, especially during their late play-off push, and were the sixth highest scorers in League One with their relentless attacking.
But despite the way his side got promoted Heckingbottom feels his team have what it takes to win under any circumstances.
“I think one of the qualities about this team at the minute is that we can win games either way,” added the 38-year-old.
“I think we were an attacking force and an attacking threat because most of the time we imposed ourselves on the opposition really really well.
“I only think we were attacking and swashbuckling when the game called for it.
“There were games that if you were an outsider looking in you would say we didn’t deserve to win that because we had to defend, dig in and keep a clean sheet and win it 1-0.
“But when I watch that back I see the good things of everything we’ve worked on in training that means we keep a clean sheet.
“The best thing about the players’ performances from my perspective was that they were able to perform in a way which won the game.”
Meanwhile, Heckingbottom is interested in bringing Liverpool winger Ryan Kent to Oakwell for next season - more than likely on a loan deal.
The 19-year-old spent a spell on loan at Coventry last season and performed well against the Reds.
Heckingbottom said: “He is a good player and he played well against us last season.
“He certainly fits into the bracket of player we are after.”