Ex-Barnsley winger Jamal Campbell-Ryce has heaped praise on new manager Valerien Ismael and suggested that the squad’s togetherness is what is helping them punch above their weight, speaking exclusively to Football League World.
Tykes fans will likely have been concerned when they saw Gerhard Struber leave to take charge of New York Red Bulls in October but the Oakwell outfit have been sensational since the arrival of their new boss.
With Valerien at the helm, Barnsley have won eight of their last 12 Championship games and climbed to 12th in the table – only four points outside the play-offs.
The Tykes stayed in the second tier by beating Brentford on a dramatic final day of the 2019/20 campaign but look as though they will be challenging higher up the table this term.
Campbell-Ryce played an instrumental role in keeping Barnsley in the Championship back in 2008 and, speaking exclusively to Football League World, he credited Ismael for the strong start he had made to life at Oakwell and shared his thoughts on their recent success.
He said: “The thing is with Barnsley, everybody probably sees them as a club that always punches above their weight in the Championship but they’ve been doing that for some years now.
“They are almost like one of the minnows of the Championship but they always seem to do well and manage to stay up.
“This new manager that has come in this season, he’s had a great start and I’m absolutely buzzing for them because they don’t have the money that a lot of clubs have but they’ve got this togetherness. The players that they recruit understand and realise that.
“First and foremost, their basic fundamentals are grafting for each other and that’s what people in Barnsley are all about. Everybody works hard and that’s what they expect from their players.”
Campbell-Ryce played arguably the best football of his career during his three years at Oakwell.
In total he made 100 appearances for the Tykes, adding 13 goals and 10 assists – including an early strike in the 3-0 win against Charlton Athletic that secured their Championship survival in 2008.