Thomas Christiansen wants Paul Heckingbottom’s description of Leeds United as “a team everyone loves to hate” to act as motivation for his players at Oakwell today.
Barnsley manager Heckingbottom, a lifelong fan of the South Yorkshire club, set the scene for this afternoon’s clash with Leeds by calling the fixture “a big derby for us” and recalling how talk of United’s history and tradition was “rammed down your throat” as a youngster.
“We hated Leeds and they hated us and that is how it was,” Heckingbottom said on Thursday, recalling his formative years as a Barnsley supporter.
“You understand the support they’ve got, the size of the club and the tradition as it was always rammed down your throat with them bragging about it. It’s a team everyone loves to hate but a big club with a big tradition. It’s a big derby for us.”
Christiansen will get his first taste of Oakwell later, backed by an away following of 4,500.
Only one Leeds manager, Brian McDermott, has claimed victory away at Barnsley in the past decade and Christiansen told his players to heed Heckingbottom’s comments by preparing themselves for a committed display from Barnsley.
“It’s good for me to know the things that we can expect there,” Christiansen said. “If their manager has pronounced that then it can give my players more motivation to know what is awaiting them, and for them to be ready.”
Christiansen was new to English football when Leeds appointed him as head coach in June but asked why United were a side rival clubs “love to hate”, he said: “Because we are a big team.
“Obviously this club is a historic club. With Leeds, everyone wants to beat them. Also in this league with the fans and how massive they go to the away games, that proves how big this club is. This is why all the teams want to beat Leeds.”
United were beaten 4-1 by Championship leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers in midweek and start the day 10th in the table, three points short of the play-off positions.
If their manager has pronounced that then it can give my players more motivation to know what is awaiting them, and for them to be ready.Leeds boss, Thomas Christiansen