Former Barnsley midfielder Neil Redfearn believes the Reds’ fine start to the Sky Bet Championship campaign could provide a springboard for derby success this weekend.
Daniel Stendel’s side make the short journey to Hillsborough on Saturday looking to build on their impressive victory over recently relegated Fulham, by claiming local bragging rights against Sheffield Wednesday.
The Owls also picked up all three points on the opening weekend as they put Reading to the sword in Berkshire.
“Barnsley had a fantastic start – it was a great win against Fulham; they kept a clean sheet against a good side, which takes some doing,” insisted Redfearn.
“Not only that but, by the sound of things reading the reports, Barnsley were the better side by a mile and they’ll take loads of confidence from that. In football, winning is a good thing to have – it’s the momentum you pick up from that, so it’ll definitely be a tough game for Sheffield Wednesday.”
Redfearn enjoyed a seven year spell at Oakwell and was part of the famous side that won promotion to the Premier League in 1997.
The Reds Hall of Famer also scored a tremendous free-kick against Wednesday when the two sides met in the top flight, with his thunderous drive crashing in off the post.
It’s a period of time that Redfearn reflects fondly on – an era that earned himself and his teammates cult status in South Yorkshire.
“Derbies are always great occasions but when it’s the Premier League it’s tenfold,” continued the 54-year-old. “It was great to get us off to a good start, but we just couldn’t hold on in the game.
“They were great times for the club and it’s probably the best time in the club’s history ever, and the lads that played in those moments are proud of that.”
Barnsley have adjusted well to life back in the second tier and there is an air of optimism around the club that this exciting young squad can build on the momentum generated by last season’s promotion.
With the players implementing Stendel’s brand of dynamic football, the Reds could provide more shock results as the campaign wears on.
“I think Barnsley will do well this season,” admitted Redfearn. “I really like the manager; I think he’s a bright guy and a good football guy – he’s got a feel for the supporters, the club and the town, and I think he’s got them playing good football.
“I know players like Alex Mowatt and Mallik Wilks really well because they were with me at Leeds and I know how good and talented they are, and he’s getting the best out of his players, which is testament to him and the hallmark of a top manager.”
Following a spell in charge of Liverpool Women, Redfearn was appointed as U23s coach at Newcastle United – taking on the head coach role earlier this year.
The former Leeds United and Rotherham United manager was back at Oakwell on Tuesday as his side went head to head with Barnsley U23s in a pre-season friendly, which the Reds went on to win 3-1.
He is optimistic about his role with the Magpies and is eager to develop more talented players to progress to the senior ranks.
“I’m enjoying it – we’ve got some really good kids,” said Redfearn. “It’s been a quick turnaround because we had to look after the first team for a little bit until the new gaffer came in, but I’ve enjoyed every minute.
“We’ve got some bright young players who are chomping at the bit to get themselves in and around the first team – there’s a chink of light there now, with the Longstaff brothers getting in there, so I think it’s something to look forward to.”