Having never worked at a professional football club before I can only go on the past 12 months and how much of a eventful time it had been. As I sit here now contemplating the future I can't help but read through the newspaper articles that I have been writing on a weekly basis for the local paper.
After completing my UEFA coaching badges I had spent 6 months coaching in Portugal and Spain learning from senior coaches on the different ways of developing there respective youth prospects. I had been looking for a way into English football and when I heard that my home town club were looking for someone to work in there Academy I was on the first flight home.
After meeting with the Chairman and first team manager Mark Robins I couldn't help but notice with how much passion they spoke about the club and with how much importance they put on the Academy setup.
The next day I was called by the chairman and offered the job, he stated that it was the fact that I was a local man and they were hoping I could drill home to the players what playing for this side meant. I didn't think twice before accepting the role which turned out to be coaching/managing the under 18s.
A few weeks after starting my new role I was approached by the local paper to see if I would write a weekly online article describing the players progress and who the fans should watch out for. The chairman agreed that this was a good idea and he liked the fans to ability to see how the club was run.
We had enjoyed a fantastic 12 months which had ended with an amazing F.A Youth Cup final defeat to Aston Villa, several of the players had trained with the first team and Reuben Noble Lazarus had even featured from the bench in two championship games, at 16 years of age he was a real talent.
Mark Robins had consulted me on the progress of the U18s throughout the season and I felt like we had a good working relationship, he was highly thought of in the game and although the first team had enjoyed a uneventful season it was seen as progression from the usual relegation fight that Barnsley often found themselves in. It was because of our relationship that I felt it strange he had not returned my calls or turned up at the Youth Cup Final, something didn't sit right with me and then to top it all twenty minutes ago I had received a call from the chairman Patrick Cryne asking if I could meet with him as soon as possible and not to mention this meeting to anyone. I didn't know what was going on but I obviously agreed to the meeting and went to see Mr Cryne.
Upon my arrival I could sense something was wrong, Patrick looked saddened and his voice quiet and weak, It was then that he informed me that Marks wife had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and had requested a substantial time away from the club. He was going to be needed at home and couldn't guarantee 100% of his attention towards the club, I was speechless, what must he be going through.
Mr Cryne then asked me how would I feel about taking charge of the first team until Mark is ready to return to the club, I would work alongside the current back room staff and have final say on all maters relating to the first team.
I was taken back, to be hit with the bad news regarding Mark then this was too much for me and I have asked for 24 hours to gather my thoughts, this is why i now sit looking back on the past 12 months wondering if what i have learned here can be brought to the first team and even though it is a sad time I cant help but feel guilty about how this really could be a chance of a lifetime . . . .
---------- Post added at 07:19 AM ---------- Previous post was yesterday at 09:24 PM ----------
After last nights dramatic news I had taken the time this morning to speak to Mark and pass on my best wishes. He told me how it was him who recommended me to the chairman and he filled me in on things that needed to be seen to before the players returned for pre season training. He wished me luck and asked only that he be kept informed on how things are going.
After speaking to Mark I spoke with the chairman about the role and what constraints I had to work within, I was told that any transfers would have to be put through Mark but apart from that I was to treat the job as if it was my own.
I arranged for the whole of the First team, Reserves and Academy graduates to meet at Oakwell that afternoon where I broke the unfortunate news. It was a sad day but the players seemed to rally together and by the time the last player left I felt confident that I would have no problems regarding there feelings towards me.
As I was travelling home that night the news started to break on the radio, by tomorrow it would be in all the papers, and so my life as a football manager begins.
---------- Post added at 06:24 PM ---------- Previous post was at 07:19 AM ----------
Robins Given Leave of Absence
It has been announced that Barnsley manager Mark Robins has been given a leave of absence following the sad news regarding his wifes sudden illness. The former Manchester United striker who previously had a successful spell managing Rotherham United has already left the club and will not be returning in the foreseeable future.
Under 18s boss Chris Johnson has been asked to step into the vacant post until such time as Robins can return, Johnson has no managerial experience at this level but the achievements and progress been made by the U18s last season have made him the easy choice for the Oakwell Hierarchy.
Please leave us your comments on this breaking news:
Barnsley Jeff June 27th 10:32
Sad news regarding Mark but the club are showing no ambition with the appointment of Johnson. Another relegation battle looms!!
Oakwell Sam June 27th 16:45
Sorry to read this, Johnson has a big task in front of him I just hope he can make the jump from kids football to professional football.
BFCFRANK June 28th 08:00
Ridiculous appointment by the board, should have offered Phil Brown a six month deal.
Tim the Tyke June 28th 13:45
Maybe it could work I doubt it though, Ill not be renewing my season ticket now!
---------- Post added at 06:25 PM ---------- Previous post was at 06:24 PM ----------
The news had been a shock to everyone in football, Mark is well respected and the well wishes flooded in for days on end. I had to put it all to the back of my mind as i had a job to do, the players would be back in just 2 days and it was bound to be a hectic time.
I knew all of the first team squad as id been to most games in the previous season so I had a very good idea of there strengths and weaknesses. I had been told to basically work with what I had as it would be very hard to bring in any players on permanent deals without the gaffers say so, I was after all a glorified caretaker manager.
There would be two new faces in the squad when they returned as Mark told me he had arranged season long loan deals for a Uruguayan Defensive Midfielder called Diego Arismendi and a young English right back called Kieran Trippier from Stoke and Man City respectively.
I met with John Breckin who was Marks good friend and Assistant not only here but at there previous club Rotherham. His knowledge of the squad and football in general would be most beneficial to me if this was to be a successful spell in management, I asked John to create an in depth review of the squad and also inform me of any areas of the squad he felt we needed to look at.
I had a few ideas of things i wanted to implement and also an idea of how to get some new blood into the club.