Daniel Farke will be greeting a familiar face when Norwich City welcome Barnsley to Carrow Road on Saturday.
Valerian Ismael was appointed Barnsley manager in October, and is a man Farke knows well from their time spent together working on their UEFA Pro licenses.
“Valerian Ismael is a great guy,” he said. “I saw him for twelve months more than my family in Germany.
“He was a fantastic player and is doing a fantastic job.
“Since he arrived at Barnsley, it's been outstanding. I think they've had 30 points from 15 games which is a title-winning average. There's just one team with more points from those games... it's us!
“Before he joined Barnsley he called me to talk about the Championship. I was happy for him but I know the two games against his team are difficult.”
Barnsley’s strong form since Ismael took over has seen them rise to eighth in the division, so capping off a good performance with a good result will be no small feat for the Canaries, but there will be a desire to show a more ruthless edge following Tuesday’s draw against QPR.
“We want a perfect start to the year of 2021,” Farke said.
“Against QPR we were so dominant and should have won. In this sport, momentum can change quickly so there's no replacement for wins. Barnsley aren't the big favourites for winning the league but are in red hot form and have a chance to fight for the top six.”