Owen Coyle told Latics Player he couldn’t have been happier with his team’s dominant performance at Oakwell on Saturday afternoon, kicking off the new season in real style with a 4-0 win which set a new opening day club record win.
One of the five debutants named by Coyle in the starting line-up, Scott Carson, was at times a bystander as his outfield team mates took control from the first whistle until the last, producing a display and scoreline to send out a statement of intent to the rest of the division.
After the game, Coyle praised the efforts of his players, saying:
“From start to finish it was a fantastic performance from a dynamic team against a Barnsley side who, towards the end of last season, showed real resilience in taking on all before them to stay in the Championship.
“But we stood toe to toe with them, showed real quality and to be honest could have scored more than four goals, so as Manager I couldn’t have asked for much more than what the players gave today.
“Barnsley were always going to ask questions of our defence, but I can’t remember Scott Carson ever having a real save to make and we actually felt aggrieved to be just 1-0 ahead at half-time after having a couple of strong penalty appeals turned down.
“At half-time there was still much to do, and even when Grant Holt scored the second goal we couldn’t drop our standards, because the Championship can punish you very quickly but our quality shone through and on another day we could have scored six or seven goals.
“The hardest part of today for me was deciding which eleven players started the game, because each and every one of them has applied themselves so well during pre-season and each gave a strong case to be starting.
“The attitude of the entire group has been brilliant and we’re going to need that for the duration of the season with a squad which is showing good signs of being able to cope with the demands of a long season ahead.”
Leon Barnett joined fellow debutant Grant Holt in getting on the scoresheet with his second half strike, less than 48 hours after joining the club earlier in the week, but Coyle had no doubts about whether he was ready to step up to the challenge helped along by a tremendous away following:
“Leon has had one training session with the rest of the boys,” said the Gaffer, “and although he’s had a full pre-season which Norwich City, he’s not actually had any game time, but I knew the adrenaline would get him through today and he certainly impressed.
“But I have to give special credit to our supporters who were magnificent throughout the afternoon. They really got behind their team, sang their hearts out and the players really responded to that.
“What we’ve got to remember is that there are still 45 games to go in the league, so we can’t allow ourselves to get too carried away after one game.”