Yorkshire Post, 4th October 2008

SIMON DAVEY enters the most important 90 minutes of his managerial career in what is being dubbed as a Championship relegation battle at Oakwell.

The former Academy coach has been fighting a two-year battle with Barnsley's supporters and appeared to be winning them over last season when he led the club to the semi-finals of the FA Cup.

However, a disappointing start to the new season capped by the departure this week of captain Brian Howard to arch-rivals Sheffield United, has piled the pressure back on his shoulders.

Defeat against another local rival is likely to snap the patience of those who still question Davey's suitability for the top job at Oakwell.

Whether it will also snap the patience of the club's owner, Patrick Cryne, is another matter.

Cryne told the Yorkshire Post last night that Davey had been given 'no ultimatum' but openly admitted that his performance was under 'continuous review'.

Davey is also under no illusions about the price of failure this afternoon – and agrees that the fans are entitled to be unhappy.

"They have a right to criticise," said the Reds manager. "Our results are not good enough. They have been unacceptable and I will be the first to hold up my hand and say that.

"I am not stupid. I know the situation with local derbies and home games and the amount of games we have not won for and it all stacks up. I had criticism last season when I took the club to the FA Cup semi-final. You learn to deal with that.

"We are where we are because we have not won enough games and we are not scoring enough goals.

"It is something we need to address sooner rather than later. We are in a results business and we have to win games," he said.

"But we still have a belief that it will turn around. If we were getting slaughtered and not playing well, we would have massive problems. We don't need a miracle, just a bit of luck."

As football managers so often say, the time to judge a team's prospects comes after 10 games. If Barnsley lose today – after winning only one of the first nine – they could possibly be five points adrift of safety at the bottom of the table.

To make matters worse, Davey has yet to win a South Yorkshire derby, suffering two defeats to Sheffield United and taking just one point from three games against Sheffield Wednesday.

"In the face of adversity, I think I need to win one," he admitted. "It may be pivotal. It is a situation where Doncaster have not won in five games, and I don't think we have either.

"When I came into this job, I was thrown into the fire – but you have beliefs and principles as a manager and you have to make sure you do the right things. The staff know we are doing the right things but sometimes it just doesn't go for you. We can't affect the press or speculation, all we can do is affect the players to get a result."

Ironically, Doncaster's current form is worse than Barnsley's yet manager Sean O'Driscoll enjoys a position of relative comfort because his club are playing at this level for the first time in 50 years after winning promotion last season.

Expectations at Oakwell are far higher than at the Keepmoat Stadium – mainly due to the memory of staging Premier League football just a decade ago. Rovers are unlikely to sack O'Driscoll even if this season ends in relegation.

The Rovers manager said: "It doesn't happen very often in football, people often get get irate when results are not going your way. But even when we were 2-0 down against Sheffield United in midweek, our supporters stuck with us and showed that they appreciate what we are trying to do and that was appreciated in return."

O'Driscoll is not a Barnsley supporter but, if he was, he would not have been over-critical of their 3-0 midweek defeat at Ipswich Town.

"Simon Davey must be tearing his hair out," he commented. "They have played Ipswich away and forced 18 corners. The Ipswich goalkeeper gets the man of the match. Those who were not there only see a 3-0 'drubbing', those who were at the game got a completely different view."

The statistics hardly offer massive encouragement to Davey but games, of course, are never won on paper. Rovers have won the last five meetings between these clubs and have not lost to Barnsley in 29 years.

Reuben Noble-Lazarus, who became the youngster player in Football League history in midweek, is hoping to keep his place on the Barnsley bench.

Whatever happens, just sitting next to Davey this afternoon will be an education in dealing with pressure.
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