Steven Schumacher

Schumacher on Barnsley Challenge

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Steven Schumacher is hoping that Argyle’s first game of the 2022/23 season will be the stuff of dreams.

This wish may in part because comfortable sleep has been a rather fitful experience to the manager of late.

He said: “I know the first game is coming because my sleep has got a lot worse the last few days! Every pass, every press and every scenario is in my head. I woke up at 5.20am again, which is now normal.

“I’m super excited. I can’t wait for the real stuff to kick off. It’s been a good pre-season, but there is nothing better than the first game of the season, in front of your home crowd, cheering us on. Hopefully we get a good performance – and an even better result.”

The test on the day’s commencement will be a tough one. Barnsley are the visitors, managed by Michael Duff, who took the job on in the summer following The Tykes’ relegation from the Sky Bet Championship.

The game is, though, at Home Park, and with Argyle hoping to have the backing of a near-full Theatre of Greens, the boss is determined that his side with set the pace.

“The onus is on us to take the game to Barnsley and try to create a tempo,” he said. “We’re the home team, that’s exactly what we’ll do.

“We know that we are going to be in for a tough test against Barnsley, who have got loads of players who were there last season. I’m sure they have a point to prove. They are coming down a division into League One and will want to show that they are one of the strongest teams in the division, which I’m sure they will be.

“They’ve got a new manager that they are all going to want to impress. It’s not going to be an easy game, but not many in the first few months are that easy. We’ll give it our best and hopefully come out on the right side of the result.

“I know Michael Duff quite well, we get on well. He’s a great lad. He did a brilliant job and Cheltenham and is probably ready for the next step in his managerial career. He’s got an opportunity at a very big club in Barnsley. It’ll take him a bit of time to get his own stamp on things, but I know the way he works. He will have his team very well organised and difficult to beat.”

Argyle lost on the opening day of last season, but would follow that with an astonishing 16-match unbeaten league run.

All the preparation, recruitment and build-up is over, and Schumacher feels his side are set up to make another strong beginning to a season.

“In the first part of the season, we’re looking to see if everyone has gelled,” he said. “Do the new players coming in understand how we work? Have they taken the messages on board?

“The overall message is to keep progressing as a club. We massively overachieved compared to where our budget said we should finish. This year we will have to overachieve again to challenge those top six places. We’ve highlighted areas where we feel we can improve, on and off the pitch.

“We want to get off to the best start possible.

“It’s always a sunny day on the first day of the season. It feels a long time ago, the last game of last season. We can’t wait to get out there, hear The Janner Song again, and get the adrenaline going.”

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