Bees still buzzing
Daniel Leach tells Chris Burton that Barnet are excited, not nervous, about scrapping for survival.
Last Updated: 29/04/11 1:08pm
Sir Alex Ferguson knows a thing or two about football so when he describes the end-of-season run-in as 'squeaky bum time', it is difficult to argue with him.
Fortunately for the Manchester United boss, his worries tend to only stretch as far as ending the season with one major trophy rather than a hatful.
Failure to land a domestic title or conquer the continent may be disappointing, but it is not catastrophic and those competing at that level can often console themselves in the knowledge that they will back in a similar position inside 12 months.
At the opposite end of football's spectrum, the consequences of slipping up are a lot more severe.
Dropping out of the Football League may not be as damaging as it was a decade ago, with many sides in the Blue Square Premier now working on an equal footing to those just a step up the Football League ladder.
It is, however, a crushing blow to take for those involved and recent history suggests that those tumbling out of the fourth tier struggle to bounce back.
Barnet are one of the sides currently sweating on their Football League status, as they sit on the 91st rung of English football's ladder.
They have just two games in which to get their head back above water and avoid being washed down the plughole into the non-league ranks.
The one consolation for the Bees is that they still have a chance of hauling themselves clear of the trapdoor, with just a solitary point separating them from the survival cut off.
You could be forgiven for thinking that Underhill must be awash with nervous tension right now, with the dividing line between success and failure thinning by the week.
You would, however, be wrong, with those at the business end of the results business at Barnet of the opinion that a survival scrap is something to be embraced rather than feared.
That is the mindset of Bees defender Daniel Leach, who has told skysports.com's Chris Burton that the Bees remain supremely confident in their ability to steer clear of trouble.
He said: "Everyone's quite relaxed. We are relaxed because we've had the pressure on us for so long now that we are just sort of enjoying training and enjoying the way we are playing. We have been unlucky at times, like the other day [a 2-2 draw with Oxford] felt like a loss because we looked like we had the points in the bag, but there aren't really any nerves. I think everyone is alright.
"It is really exciting. We don't want to be in this position, but we are and we have to deal with it. Everyone is quite excited about what's to come. We have got Accrington at the weekend and we feel, with the way we have been playing, that we can take on anyone.
"Accrington are flying high right now so there's a lot riding on the game for them, I think they can wrap up a play-off place. That means there will probably be a big crowd, so there will be pressure on them. It should be a good game because both teams have a lot to play for.
"Port Vale is our last game of the season, at home. We just have to focus on what we do and that's all we can do. We have to try and win our last two games. With the way we have been playing, I think that is something that can be done. It's not a highly improbable situation. It's something that can definitely be done so it's going to be an exciting last week and a half."
Barnet are THE form side at the foot of League Two at the moment, having lost just one of their last six fixtures, and that has offered them hope.
It also means that they are refusing to set targets, with Leach refusing to speculate on how many points may be required to see them safe.
He said: "I don't know. A lot of people have been talking about this but if we get six points, that's all we can do. We have to just focus on that and if the teams above us end up getting six, then so be it. All we can do is focus on winning the next two games, which we feel we can do.
"We have done really well. The mood has changed at the training ground, everyone enjoys playing with one another and the results have improved. It's down to everyone, not just the 11 on the field but the whole squad and the staff. Everyone has pulled together and tried to achieve what we want to do - which is to stay up, obviously."
While the Barnet camp remains upbeat, they are disappointed to have found themselves entrenched in a relegation dogfight for the second successive season.
"I can't say why we are at this point again, as we were last season," said Leach.
"We managed to pull it out on the last day of the season and we are going to have to pull it out of the bag again this year for the second year running."
Part of the problem for Barnet has been their instability in the dugout, with former striker Giuliano Grazioli the man currently charged with the task of steadying the ship - following the shock departure of Martin Allen to Notts County.
"He has been great since he has come in," said Leach.
"He has been at the club as a player and in many other positions within the community, so he has put everything into it. He has given his all to keeping Barnet up and I think he is the right man to do it. He has shown a lot of passion and he has transferred that to us players and has got the best out of us. He really motivates us to do our best and produce performances."
Leach has figured regularly under Grazioli, following a frustrating opening to the season, but admits that he is unsure what the future will hold for him once the 2010/11 campaign comes to a close.
He said: "I have only played the last five games because I broke my foot and was out for about six months. It's a bit of an uncertain time. My contract is up at the end of the season but I have played the last five games, so we'll see. It's uncertain times for Barnet, not knowing whether they are staying up, and for me with my contract. Who knows what the future holds. Hopefully things will go well in the next few weeks and I can do what needs to be done for Barnet. What will happen, will happen."
Leach has been part of the set-up at Barnet since 2009 and is thoroughly enjoying his time in English football.
He is, however, an Australian native and admits he could be tempted to return to his homeland at some stage in his career.
The 25-year-old, who went to Oregon State University in the United States, said: "Honestly, who knows what's around the corner. I really don't know. There is a temptation to go back home, to be around your family, but I really enjoy football here in England. This is the motherland of football and that's a really attractive thing. I would really like to stay here in England, but who knows what's next."