You can call it mind games or you can call it a true belief but Barnsley manager Valérien Ismaël sees his side as the clear underdogs as he puts the final preparations into the work ahead of the first leg of the play offs on Monday.
Barnsley will welcome the Swans to Oakwell on Monday evening for the first game of what promises to be two close encounters with the prize for the winners a day at Wembley and the richest game in football – the Championship play-off final on May 29.
Many people (including some fans of both sides) will see the winner of Brentford or Bournemouth being the most likely to secure the promotion place, the Swans and Barnsley are both where they are on merit and right now have an even chance of securing that place.
Ismaël though admitted that his side are probably the clear underdogs ahead of the two games against the Swans particularly perhaps as many people will point to the Swans having won both league encounters by a two goal margin.
But we all know that this means nothing at this point in time but the Barnsley boss said “We are the underdogs, when you see the four teams in the play-offs, we are the underdogs. We have our principle, desire and belief, and the players raise their own performance and discover their own greatness.
“Mentally, we are really strong so that’s why I think, on the pitch, we can win but, on paper, we are the clear underdogs because it was not the expectation that Barnsley are where we are. But we are here because of our performance on the pitch.
“It is the reward for the players, they give everything on the pitch. From the first minute until the last, they are completely dedicated on our way to play and our principle and it just shows that when you are organised, focused and believe in your strength anything is possible.
“That is the story from Barnsley this season, but the story is not finished.”