John Oster speaks exclusively to barnetfc.com for this week’s Big Interview.
The former Everton and Sunderland midfielder reveals all on his time in the top flight, his Barnet team mates and the 2012/13 season.
Firstly let’s talk Port Vale, despite our dominance very much a point gained against the League Two leaders…
JO: “I think that it is a running trend at the moment that we are playing well but not picking up the points we deserve. We cannot be too disheartened because if we continue in the same vein then I have no doubt that the results will follow. It is just a case of putting the ball in the net and that is an area that we need to improve upon but it will come. If we were playing badly then we would have cause for concern but we need to keep doing what we are doing and believing in what we are trying to achieve.”
Individually a very good day at the office too as you picked up the Man of the Match award…
JO: “Yes of course because it is always nice to be acknowledge for playing well. Edgar asked me to play a slightly different role because I was the holding midfielder on Saturday and I have been playing left but it benefitted me and hopefully the team.”
On a broader scale, how would you assess the season as a whole?
JO: “I think we have picked up as the season has progressed but there is more continuity within the team selection which is massively important. Changing personnel all the time is not healthy and you need a good understanding with who you are playing with, you cannot have that if you do not play with each other regularly.
The club took just three points out of a possible 36 during the opening stages of the season, do you feel that the club has therefore underachieved this season?
JO: “I think we have yes, we had the nucleus of the squad very early on but we did not have the direction, we had a very poor start and confidence was probably as low as it can be. We had a very young team at the start of the season and it is hard to get the younger players believing in your methods when they are not working. Now we are playing with confidence and we know what we can do, we know where we want to be and we have showed that we are not that far away from the teams at the top. What we need to do now improve upon is our performances against the teams at the lower end of the table.”
What are you going to do next year to ensure that the same does not happen again and if it does not can the club push for promotion?
JO: “Who knows, there is a lot of people coming and going at the moment and we have a very big squad. It is very difficult to say now because a lot can change between now and the start of next season, the personnel will be the key thing and the squad for next season will not come together until pre-season. If we carry our current form into next season then one thing that certainly won’t be an issue is the possibility of relegation.”
A key part in any club’s development is infrastructure and with the outstanding facilities we have here, a new stadium on the way and further investment in the team the future looks bright…
JO: “It is yes. If people do not know Barnet they may just look at our league position and make their conclusions from that. It does not paint a pretty picture but it is a case of getting to players and showing them what we can offer. We have got a very high profile manager and the facilities here are amazing for League Two, with the new ground on the way Barnet represents a great place to come compared too many other clubs in this league.”
Consistency, not just with results but within the squad, is also vital, so how important is it that players like Graham Stack commit their futures to the club?
JO: “Very important because you do want to end up in a situation where all your best players leave at the end of the season for nothing. It is great that the club are tying down players to longer contracts because that is the best way to build for the future. With the financial restraints it is not easy and it is very much a juggling act but you do need that core. If we can get a decent squad together next year then I am sure we can make a better start and if we do we will take it from there.”
We have recently completed the signing of Craig Beattie, another player with Premier League experience, how important is it to have players like him?
JO: “Even people like Sir Alex Ferguson understand the need to have experienced players around, you only have to look at the impact that Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs continue to have. When times get tough people automatically look to the senior players for inspiration and guidance so it is vital that we are here to offer that.”
One player who will not be able to help out on the pitch is Ricky Holmes, how much will you miss him?
JO: “It is disappointing for everyone involved; no one wants to miss any part of the season let alone the end of it. Ricky is a big player for us and he will be missed but we will carry on without him and all do our best.”
Now let’s talk John Oster… We have secured some impressive results this season against some of the top sides in the division but would you consider your personal highlight?
JO: “I think it was probably the win over Northampton because it was the first one of the season and I scored a goal. Ever since then I think we have played well and the results have slowly and steadily improved so that would be my highlight.”
You have also played for a number of top sides including Everton and Sunderland, what would you consider to be your career highlight domestically?
JO: “There are a lot of things that stand out and you obviously have to look at it from a personal angle and a team angle. As a team I think it would be when I was at Reading and we won the Championship by a record number of points. Personally it was probably playing in the FA Cup semi-final at Old Trafford and even though we lost the game, which I do not think we should of, it was a very special day.”
What about internationally because you have represented Wales a number of times?
JO: “It was very funny having Brazil the other day because I made my debut against them in Sao Paulo. To play against players like Cafu and Rivaldo was an amazing experience and I would say that was when Brazil were at their peak too.”
Playing at that level you must have played with and against a number of very good players, but what is it like lining up alongside Edgar Davids on a Saturday?
JO: “It is very strange but without sounding too disrespectful he is 39 now and it would have been fantastic to play with him when he was in his prime. He has had an illustrious career playing for some of the clubs you can only dream of playing for so of course it is nice to play with him.”