Talking to BarnetFC.com for this week’s Big Interview is centre-back David Stephens.
The former Wales Under-21 international has been in fine form this season and pinpoints defensive continuity as the pillar for the Bees recent success, Burton Albion and Bristol Rovers aside.
The interview covers all things football as Stephens talks Barnet, Wales, Scottish Football and more – And you can read it here now…
How would you sum up the season so far?
DS: “Personally it has been great because I have been playing regular, first-team football. It was a bad start to the season in terms of results but I would like to think that me and a few of my centre-back partners have steadied the ship a bit. Now we are playing some really good football and we have picked up a few very good results so hopefully it will keep getting better and better.”
What has been your highlight of the season, there must be a few contenders especially with wins against Gillingham and Rotherham?
DS: “Keeping a clean sheet against Gillingham was great because we were penned in for large parts of the game but we still held firm. Andy Iro was particularly impressive that day but the defence and the team all played really well, it was a very solid win. Rotherham was another very good performance because they are used to winning at home and we scored two goals and kept another clean sheet. Hopefully we can put in a similar performance on the weekend against Port Vale and get a similar result.”
You mentioned Andy Iro and his performance against Gillingham, you seem to have struck up a great partnership at the back, how do you feel this has benefitted the team?
DS: “I think we have gelled really well and we have a good understanding of the each other’s game. We have worked hard to develop this in training and I think it has helped the team. Edgar has helped us a lot too and I feel that the partnership continues to improve every time we play.”
Andy has spoken of the good relationship you have off the field, does that help you on the pitch?
DS: “I think it does yes. We get on really well off the field and when that is the case it does mean you can play with more freedom. It also helps you in training because it is much easier to build up the understanding you need to win football matches.”
What impact has Edgar had since he has taken control of the team, has a lot changed or has it been more of the same?
DS: “I think it has been more of the same, there is a lot of discipline and there is a lot of respect for him and between each member of the team. The mentality we have has changed a little, we are now going into games believing that we can win rather than sitting back trying to pinch a goal on the break.”
We have dominated our opponents in the last two matches but come away with nothing, does that have an effect on the players or do they always look for the positives?
DS: “I think you have to take the positives otherwise there will be a negative mindset around the club and that will not help anyone. We have played well and come away with no points but we have done the same to teams when they perhaps deserved to take something from the game. We would rather have the points but we have to take positives in the way we play and I do not think that many teams in League Two can keep the ball like we do.”
Ibra Sekajja believes that the side need to be more clinical but Jake Hyde is set to return on Saturday, how much of a miss has he been?
DS: “I think that we have missed him because he leads the line well but Harry (Crawford) has come in and scored a goal in his second appearance. If we can get both of them firing on all cylinders then it will definitely bring a lot of goals to the team because I think they could form a very good partnership.”
You have represented Wales up and down the levels so is making your debut for the first-team still a goal of yours?
DS: “Of course, the Under-21s have not had any game lately and unfortunately I am too old to take part in the upcoming tournament. I definitely want to play for the first-team at some point in my career but that reward comes from good club performances so for now I am concentrating my full attention on playing well for Barnet.”
What was it like playing in Scotland because prior to joining the club you spent two seasons in the SPL with Hibernian?
DS: “I really enjoyed it and it taught me lot about football in general both the ups and the downs. I was not always in the squad, sometimes I was on the bench and sometimes I did not play well but there were games when I did perform which was great. It was a very valuable experience and I think I am a better player because of it.”
How did it differ to playing in England?
DS: “When I was up there I would have said that the standard was a lot like League Two with a few exceptions but after moving back to England I am not so sure. I have come up against a lot of good players in both divisions and I am sure players in both could adapt but there are more stand out players in Scotland because you do have some massive clubs in the SPL.”
You started your career as a central midfielder, do you have any desire to move back to that position and how does that knowledge help you in defence?
DS: “Well sometimes on a Saturday I edge forward and you see the old me but I like it at the back even if I did used to enjoy playing there. I also think that it helps me as a defender because I understand how the players in front of me play and from the back I have a view of everything that is going on. I think it has particularly helped because of the way we play, Edgar likes us to pass the ball out and keep possession and that was already instilled in my game which is great.”
Brazil trained at The Hive during the week which demonstrates the exceptional facilities we have at the club, how important is that to the infrastructure of the club moving forward?
DS: “The facilities are fit for a Premier League side, the fact that a country like Brazil want to come here and train is a testament to everybody at the club. We now need to work hard to ensure we get the most out of it to ensure we have the team to match it. We obviously have to say a massive thank you to the chairman for providing us with such a great platform for success. It will be great to play our football here next season and it is a nice place to train day in day out.”
You were one of the lads who stuck around after training to watch Brazil, were you looking out for anyone in particular?
DS: “Ronaldinho without a doubt, he was one of my childhood heroes and he is an incredible footballer. He has not been in the squad for over a year so it is great to see him come back. Hopefully he will get a run out at Wembley because it would be great to see him take on England again.”
Finally, just four points separate the six clubs at the bottom of League Two, are you confident you can survive and what are your hopes for the remainder of the season?
DS: “Of course, if we produce more of the same then I am confident we will stay up and I hope that before the end of the season we can look to the teams above us not below. If can be a little tighter at the back and show more of a cutting edge going forward then it will be a good end to the season for us.”