You have failure but you have to stand up and keep going so I try to transmit this belief and desire to my players. You may lose games and get injured but I always tell them ‘never doubt your quality’.”
Ismaël, who won the Bundesliga as a player with Bayern Munich and Werder Bremen, cut his coaching teeth at Hannover and Wolfsburg. He then had spells in charge of Nuremberg, Wolfsburg, Greek side Apollon Smyrnis and Austrian club Lask before landing at Oakwell last autumn.
Since Ismaël took charge, only Norwich have collected more Championship points than Barnsley. Players such as Callum Brittain, Alex Mowatt, Callum Styles and Cauley Woodrow have thrived under his guidance. Centre-half Michal Helik has weighed in with five goals and been named in the Poland squad for the first time.
A narrow 1-0 defeat by Chelsea in the FA Cup fifth round last month proved the catalyst for their remarkable seven-match winning run.
“That was a game-changer in the mindset of the players,” says Ismael. “It was a brilliant performance and the guys then knew if they can do it against Chelsea then they can do it in the Championship too.
“Three days later, we repeated the performance but this time got the win at Brentford, who had been 21 games unbeaten. We knew then we could compete and since then it has all been about raising the bar. There is no pressure on us but it’s about staying focused and hungry to keep moving up the table.”