Reds head coach Paul Heckingbottom admits the January transfer window was the hardest period of his managerial career to date.
The Reds were flying high after their return to the Championship, but rumours of a mass exodus were circulating. Almost every first-team player under contract at Oakwell was linked with a move away from the South Yorkshire club.
In the end three key players; Sam Winnall, Connor Hourihane and James Bree departed, leaving Heckingbottom without arguably his two best players and a progressing youngster.
“It was difficult and it was tough,” reflected Heckingbottom. “There were all sorts happening. I was preparing myself for it because I knew what was going to happen.
“What I was saying in the media I was playing everything down because there was no need to share what I was thinking.
“I knew what was going to happen, but it did snowball and more and more things were happening.”
Rumours in the press can affect players’ performances, but Heckingbottom had to try and keep his squad focused on the field.
The club turned down a transfer request from Marley Watkins because they could not afford to lose him on top of the other departures.
Heckingbottom added: “There were more and more rumours for players.
“It was difficult, I spoke to Dean Smith [Brentford boss] about it when they were losing Scott Hogan. His mind wasn’t right so Dean kept him out of the team.
“I couldn’t do that with the eight players at our place or we wouldn’t have had a team.
“Credit to the staff and the players. We don’t just focus on the football, it’s a respect thing and they didn’t let it get into the dressing room.”