Johnson keen to beat ex-Barnsley boss Hill in Oakwell finale

Ex-'Barnsley Boss Keith Hill has punched well above his weight at Rochdale says current Reds boss Lee Johnson. Photo: Steve Parkin.
Ex-'Barnsley Boss Keith Hill has punched well above his weight at Rochdale says current Reds boss Lee Johnson. Photo: Steve Parkin.

Barnsley boss Lee Johnson is relishing locking horns with former Reds manager Keith Hill this weekend.

The Reds host Rochdale on Sunday in their final match of the League One season.

And Johnson wants to make sure it’s him and his players who are smiling at the final whistle.

“I’ve only played against him once personally, but he’s [Keith] a very good manager,” Johnson told The Star.

“They’ll be different opinions on how he did here. Some people will think he did well and some won’t.

“But he’s done a good job at Rochdale and, with the resources he’s had at his disposal, well he’s punched above his weight dramatically.

“Rochdale are a very good side and we know it’s going to be a tough game for us.

“But we want to finish the season on a high and it’s a chance for some of the younger players to show what they can do.”

Johnson has been impressed with what he’s seen this season since taking over from former boss Danny Wilson.

But the former Oldham manager knows it will take time to mould the type of team he wants to be challenging for promotion next season.

And with new recruits targeted and a full pre-season to work his squad, Johnson is quietly confident the club can impress.

“We’ve flirted with the play-offs this season and rode that wave of optimism, but deep down I knew we were a little bit short,” admitted Johnson.

“But if we can get the jigsaw correct then I really feel as though we can light the touch paper next season.

“We had a great run, but I don’t want our supporters to think it was just a ‘new manager syndrome’.

“It’s down to me and the players to prove that and, with the players I’m looking to bring in, we’ll have that extra little bit of quality.

“We want to win this weekend and we’ll be trying everything to do that, but the most important thing now is building for next season.

“We’ll release out retained list next week and keep talking to players about joining us.

“I want the Barnsley fans to have an affinity with our players. Players like Sam Winnall get a great reception, even when they come off the substitute’s bench. We want 11 Sam Winnall’s.”