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Barnsley manager Danny Wilson ready for relegation battle

21 February 2014

By Tony Leighton

Seventeen years after leading Barnsley to their finest hour with promotion to the Premier League, Danny Wilson is back as manager. However, this time he is tasked with a slightly different challenge; guiding the Yorkshire club to Sky Bet Championship survival.

Following that glorious 1996/97 campaign in what was Wilson's first job in management, the Tykes were relegated in their first season and have since fluctuated between the Championship and League 1.

In the last two seasons they have finished just one place above the Championship relegation zone, and the situation the returning Wilson stepped into just before Christmas was equally perilous with the club at the bottom of the table.

Ten league games later they have moved up one place but are still five points below the safety places. The lowest of those spots is occupied by Millwall - who just happen to be this Saturday's visitors to Oakwell.

As he looked ahead to a proverbial 'six-pointer' relegation battle, Wilson told football-league.co.uk: "It's obviously a vital match for us, but every match we play is vital and whatever the outcome it won't be a defining result.

"Millwall have been similar to us in their recent results. We've both struggled to be consistent, but both sides have shown improvements and I'm sure that Ian (Holloway, appointed Millwall manager in January) will feel the same."

Since Holloway took over at the Den, Millwall have won just one of their seven games and taken six points from a possible 21. Barnsley, meanwhile, have won only once in 10 outings under Wilson and collected eight points from 30.

Only one of the Tykes' four defeats has been by more than a single goal, however, and Wilson said: "We've had some very good performances and looking back, there have been four or five games where we could have taken three points.

"We have got better. We had to steady the ship because we were too open and finding it difficult to get a foothold in games. We had to be pragmatic about the way we went about it, but I have been encouraged by a lot of our play."

Now vastly experienced, the 54-year-old - who has almost 1,000 games as a manager behind him at seven different clubs - will have to bring all that knwoledge to bear if he is to keep Barnsley in the Championship.

But he is quietly confident of achieving that aim. "One or two clubs above us are being dragged down the table," he noted, "and they might not be able to shake themselves out of it and get their momentum back.

"The dynamic of the league could be a lot different as we move towards the end of the season. We've got 16 games left, so there are plenty of points to play for - and when it comes to the final furlong we'll still be in there battling."

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