Graham Barrow has urged his Wigan squad to play ‘football with freedom’ as they look to claw back ground on their fellow Championship strugglers.
Latics sit seven points adrift of safety ahead of tonight’s visit of Barnsley, a side with seemingly nothing to play for having sealed their safety.
You saw on Saturday that the players still care. They showed great character to come from behind, and showed that they are still in itGraham Barrow
Last weekend’s last-gasp victory over Rotherham has lifted spirits at the DW but Barrow insists more needs to be done to keep the good results flowing.
“In the past, we’ve got carried away when we’ve won a game, but we have to back it up with something else now,” said Barrow.
“The feeling of winning has been great. The players have always given their all but when you get the rewards for it, the feeling of winning will never ever be beaten.” The interim manager believes their first league win in six outings – the only one so far in his brief tenure – will breed a positive mentality throughout the squad, and with only five games left of the season left to play, time is running out to get the necessary points on the board.
And Barrow has pushed his players to compete with no added pressure when it comes to crunch time.
“If you don’t play with freedom in football, you’re always going to struggle,” he said.
“We’ll tell the lads as much as we can against Barnsley, but we can only do so much to prepare them, then we try to give them that freedom to play their football.
“You saw on Saturday that the players still care. They showed great character to come from behind, and showed that they are still in it.”
Barrow knows all about the Tykes from recent battles – Paul Heckingbottom’s men ran riot at the DW on the final day of last season with a 4-1 win.
“They play with decent football and have bags of energy in their team,” Barrow asserted.
“I would expect an open game.
“All games in the Championship are end-to-end, and I wouldn’t expect anything different from that against Barnsley.”
Barrow will be expecting big things from Gabriel Obertan, who notched his first goal in a Wigan shirt against the Millers on Saturday in a lone striker role.
And the gaffer is hoping for similar tonight.
“That’s the best he’s played for us,” said Barrow.
“He used all the equipment he has in his own game, and I thought he was a calming influence.
“He was determined to get a goal and it was great to see him get it.
“His experience came through on the day.”