Nov 16, 2010
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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.
What a start mate, by far the best I've read in a while |). Hope you can keep it up...
John had delivered the team report that very day and I was impressed with how much detail he had gone into. I spent the next 24 hours working through the report along with watching last seasons highlights tape. I used the Internet to read through the fans message boards to see what the general feeling towards the side was and where they wanted to see improvements. Apart from post after post slating my inexperience there were some fans out there who thought I could do a good job and this boosted my confidence if only a little bit.
I had been told that I could not spend any money without Marks approval so I came up with the idea of trials, It wouldn't cost the club anything and If I got lucky I might find myself a quality player. I knew a few scouts from my days in Europe and I sent out an email asking for any players they thought could hack it in the Championship who were looking for a new start. Within the next few hours I had the profiles of 12 players in front of me, I once again turned to the internet to research these boys and some were surprisingly good. This time I phoned either the players or there respective agents to ask whether or not there client would like a 3 week trial at Barnsley Football Club.
Peter Styvar
A Slovakian Striker who had no agent had agreed to the trial period, he had a decent record although he had a rather unsuccessful spell at Bristol City two years ago so he would have to show me that that was just a blip.

Olivier Fontenette
French right back who started his career at PSG he would be arriving the day after tomorrow.

Jonathon Aspas
Spanish right winger who looked very impressive from the clips available on youtube, his agent said they would think about it but they had permanent offers already on the table.

These three players would give me something to look at as well as the two new loanee arrivals that Mark had setup. Just as I was about to leave the office my computer bleeped to let me know I had a new email message, I thought twice about leaving it till the morning but curiosity got the better of me. It was from a French agent offering the availability of his client but only on a permanent deal. He went on to say how there was lots of foreign interest but his client wanted to stay in the UK, Jeremie Aliadiere was a former Middlesbrough and Arsenal player who had real box office potential at a club like Barnsley. The Chairman had basically said no to me making any permanent signings but I thought this would be a huge coop for a club of this size, I thought about it then arranged to meet with the Agent and player that very night. As I left the club to head north to Middlesborough I thought about ringing Mark but decided he had trusted me with this role so he would have to live with the decisions I made.

---------- Post added at 07:55 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:06 PM ----------

I was in early and waiting for the players to arrive, the new trialists would be here too so it was going to be a busy one. I still hadn't heard from Aliadiere's agent so I decided not to mention it to anyone, it was a long shot and one that didn't look like coming off. It had been a strange meeting and for a long time I couldn't see it going anywhere, Jeremie wanted more money than i knew we could afford and up until the last 10 minutes there wasn't much chance of him coming to South Yorkshire. It was in that last ten minutes when Aliadiere had gone to make a phone call that everything changed, his agent leaned across the table and said that if we were prepared to offer his client an extra £500 a week and make a one off payment of £20,000 to him then he would try his upmost to persude Jeremie that this is where his future should be. I agreed in principle to this deal not letting on that no-one at Barnsley knew anything about this meeting and since that night id kept it to myself and heard nothing else about it.

The players came in from 09:00 and I fielded all the questions regarding Mark at once to get it out of the way, there was a lot of genuine concern and symapthy towards Mark and I hoped it wouldn't affect the teams performances.
I noticed at the back of the room there were three players who asked nothing and yet spent the whole time chatting and laughing between themselves, I let there lack of respect go but made sure to make a mental note of who they were - Liam Dickinson, Martin Devaney and loanee Kieran Trippier.
I introduced the new faces and sent them all out with our fitness coach so we could see what sort of shape they had returned in, I asked John to keep an eye on the three players Id seen messing about and I returned to my office as I had a meeting with the Chairman regarding preseason fixtures and the chances of me bringing in a couple of loanees to boost the squad.

---------- Post added at 08:12 PM ---------- Previous post was at 07:55 PM ----------

I think the Chairman left that meeting feeling happy that his club was in safe hands, I laid out my detailed plans in what I wanted to do not only with the team but how to generate significantly more income over the pre-season period. My plan to host four pre-season tournaments and invite not only the big clubs from this country but also teams from abroad had caught his interest and he gave me the green light to go ahead with this plan, it was a plan I had come up with afterreading a fans message board when they were complaining about the quality of our pre-season opposition, I hoped to gain valuable bonus points with the supporters by implementing it.
Patrick enquired about the trialists and reminded me that any permanent signings would have to go through Mark before he okayed them, I told him how having them here wouldn't cost the club anything and I would speak to Mark myself if any of the players stood out.
As the Chairman left my office John came in and said we may have a problem, the three players from this morning had been showing a real lack of effort and the new kid from Man City had been bragging how at just 21 he was earning more than most of our senior pro's. I told John to bring them all to me after training and I would get to the bottom of this before it became a big problem.

---------- Post added at 08:42 PM ---------- Previous post was at 08:12 PM ----------

I decided to deal with them all at once, I asked them if they had a problem with me stepping into this role and they all said no although i knew they were lying. Liam Dickinson asked when would "The Manager be back?" Martin Devaney asked if "The real manager would be picking the team when the season started" and young Kieran just sat there chewing gum like he didn't give a toss what I had to say. I snapped and told them that as far as they were concerned I was the manager and if they wanted to be anywhere near my first team then they would have to change there attitude. They walked out of my office and I hoped that would be the end of it. My office window overlooked the players car park and as it happened the window was open so what happened next shocked me, I could hear young Kieron trying to do an impression of me to the other two boys who couldn't stop laughing, Kieron in a thick yorkshire accent was saying "Im the manager, do as I say blah bah blah" I couldn't believe it,they were showing me no respect at all and had just ignored everything I had said to them not 5 minutes before.
I sat in my seat fuming and at a loss as to what to do, Liam Dickinson was a striker and relatively new to the club he had a history of being a bad influence and to be honest I didn't think he was good enough at this level anyway.
Martin had been at Oakwell for a long time and was a decent winger with two good feet, he was a bit of a crowd favourite and would be hard to move on without getting it in the neck from the fans.
Kieran Trippier was a right back who was capped at England Under 21 level, he would have been my first choice full back but I couldn't let this outburst slide. I made my mind up and asked my receptionist to get me the number of Manchester City.
I spoke at length to David Platt regarding Trippiers behavior and said that unfortunately it wasn't going to work out, Platt was brilliant and said he would be disciplined upon his arrival. Before ending the conversation he asked if there was anything he could do to help out given what had happened and given what I was planning with my preseason tournaments I thought of the perfect way he could help.

---------- Post added at 10:14 PM ---------- Previous post was at 08:42 PM ----------

Later that evening I received a call from Mark, I asked how everything was but instantly got the feeling that he just wanted to talk business. He had received two calls that day the first was from Martin Devaneys agent complaining about my behaviour and asking for a move away from the club for his client. I explained everything to Mark and apologised for him being bothered at home but Mark agreed with my approach and said if I could get good money for him then let him go. The second call came from Goran Lovres agent, Goran was a creative player who had just joined from Dutch football. His agent was offering the services of Aleksandar Vukovic a central midfielder who Mark had tried to sign the year before, Mark had spoken to the Chairman and the deal would be done by the end of the week. I decided to tell MR about the Aliadiere move and he was interested up until i mentioned the deal the agent wanted, he shot me down and said the club wouldn't be held to ransom by agents and to forget the move. I could see his point of view and although a little gutted I agreed to cancel the offer id made, MR then asked about potential right back options now KT was returning to Eastlands, I mentioned the trialist we had in and also a few young premiership players I was checking the availability of. He gave me the go ahead to bring in whoever i felt was right to fill that position.
Before hanging up MR said that he was going to be leaving his phone off from now on to stop the interruptions, he had the upmost confidence in my ability and asked for a weekly email regarding any changes at the club. I thanked him and wished him my best before hanging up. A weekly update email would be a lot easier to handle then worrying about informing him of every single event that happened.

---------- Post added at 11:21 PM ---------- Previous post was yesterday at 10:14 PM ----------


---------- Post added at 11:49 PM ---------- Previous post was at 11:21 PM ----------


---------- Post added at 02:58 PM ---------- Previous post was yesterday at 11:49 PM ----------

The preseason games had started and tournament 1 went well with a very good performance against a strong Chelsea side, the final score was 1-0 to the premiership side but I was pleased with everything I had seen. The next day we played Everton and a very exciting game ended 3-3 and then a penalty shoot out victory to send the fans home very happy.
Martin Devaney made a last minute switch to Leicester leaving Preston very unhappy with how the deal was handled by the players agent, £120,000 was added to the clubs coffers.

Reuben Noble-Lazarus was a 16 year old winger who had been exceptional for me in the under 18s the season before, I had brought him in to the first team squad and he had fitted straight in. The lad had a bright future and was now the subject of a £750,000 bid from premier league side Aston Villa. I wanted to keep him at Oakwell, I knew he could develop here and the fans would love a local cult hero to get behind, unfortunately for me the matter was taken out of my hands and after much negotiating Lazarus was to join Aston Villa for a deal that could rise to as much as £1,700,000 with add ons and such like.
I let the Chairman know how disgruntled I was with this latest news and asked for the chance to strengthen the squad with some of the new transfer funds. Patrick took his time to get back to me I suspected he had consulted Mark but he eventually agreed and said I could have 50% of any revenue I made, the rest of the money would be kept for Marks return.

I made the call to Dundee and submitted an offer of £250,000 for there inform striker Leigh Griffiths. I knew the Scottish side were desperate to keep him but there financial situation meant they were in no position to negotiate and within an hour I was on my way to Scotland to thrash out a deal to bring in my number one transfer target.


Lazarus To Bring New Life To Villa
Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier brought in his first signing since taking the reigns at Villa Park. Unknown 16 year old Reuben Noble-Lazarus has commanded a very respectable fee of £1.7 million pounds, the South Yorkshire teenager was brought into the limelight last season by scoring 7 goals in 5 F.A Youth Cup matches.

Aston Villa youngster Shane Lowry will be joining Barnsley on a season long loan move as part of the transfer deal.

We want your views on this breaking story:

Villa Matt July 12th 12:39

Oakwell Sam July 13th 15:45
Good signing for Villa, deffo big a big player in a few years time. Gutted we are selling our best young players.

Barnsley Phil July 13th 18:00
Shocking decision by Johnson to sell him, come back Robins before our club is ruined!!

---------- Post added at 03:15 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:58 PM ----------



Barnsley Steal Griffiths​

Barnsley manager Chris Johnson was beaming today as he unveiled new signing Leigh Griffiths, the Scotland Under 21 striker has a very impressive record North of the border and Johnson will be hoping that form continues for his new club.
"Its a great coup for Barnsley, we managed to get in and get the deal done quickly before much bigger clubs got involved"
Barnsley caretaker manager Johnson is said to be looking to add a couple more players to his championship squad. wants your views on this story

Never heard of him, hope Johnson knows what he's doing.

Oakwell Sam
Looks ok, Id of liked a bigger name.

Dundee Bazza
He is a great signing, sad to see him leave.

---------- Post added at 03:37 PM ---------- Previous post was at 03:15 PM ----------

The preseason games were coming fast now and we enjoyed wins against Hearts, Hibs, St Johnstone and Aberdeen with decent performances in defeat against New York Red Bulls and Cercle Brugge.

The squad were really coming together, two of the five trialists had really impressed me and together with Patrick contracts had been offered to Peter Styvar and Abubakari Yakubu. Styvar had scored 4 goals in preseason and his physical attributes made him a handful for any defence, a one year deal had been offered with a view to a second year should he start in 25 games this term. Yakubu had the ability to play in any defensive role and once again his physical attributes would add some much needed steel to the squad.

I was happy that we had a squad capable of holding our own so after our new partnership with Port Vale was forged I let three of the youngsters go out on season loan deals. Alastair Taylor, Steven Bennett and Jamil Adam would all gain some valuable football league experience at Vale Park.

With just 4 days to go before the opening day of the season I went to watch Blackpool entertain Inter Milan in a friendly at Bloomfield Road. Blackpool had signed 5 new players in the past few weeks so I was on the look out for any potential loanees who would now be surplus to requirements. Whilst watching a very entertaining game I got talking to Blackpool striker Brett Ormerod who was less than pleased to be sitting out another game. He felt that his performances in there promotion season should not have been shoved to the side for the new blood unfortunately for me he wasn't interested in a loan deal at this stage of his career and I didn't think we could afford a big transfer fee.

This deal would have to be left on the side as the weekend was fast approaching and I needed to get the boys ready for a tough looking trip to Reading.

---------- Post added at 04:03 PM ---------- Previous post was at 03:37 PM ----------


Reading 2 - 0 Barnsley

Although battling hard Barnsley lost to Reading thanks to goals from Jobi Mcanuff and Henri Lansbury. The Tykes created the better of the chances but wasted them time after time,
New striker Leigh Griffiths was the main culprit missing two clear cut opportunities before the break. After the Interval Reading came out and played some great football and were rewarded with two delightful finishes, McAnuff hit a 25 yard volley just before Lansburys header clinched the points for the Royals.
Reading boss McDermott said "We deserved the points today, after a slow start we got going and should have won more comfortably"
Reds caretaker manager Johnson will be hoping for a better result when his team travel to Stockport on Tuesday night for a league cup clash.

---------- Post added at 04:18 PM ---------- Previous post was at 04:03 PM ----------

Not the start I had planned, we looked good but just lacked that killer edge. I was sure Griffiths would find his feet but I felt like we needed something else. My mind flicked back to the chat I had with Brett Ormerod just a few days before, I rang Patrick and we talked for a long time about the possibility of bringing him to the club. Blackpool wanted £500,000 where as we only had £250,000 so we were a way off in our valuations, I had to sell to bring Brett on board.
After what seemed like a million phone calls offering fringe players to anyone who would take them Ipswich agreed to take Jacob Butterfield for £850,000 as long as they could take 48 months to pay it over. Jacob hadn't featured much in preseason and was well down the pecking order, I agreed to the deal and instantly got on to Blackpool. We negotiated a deal which I thought was very fair, £325,000 for a striker with a proven record at this level and he would be here in time for Tuesdays cup game at Edgley Park.
I was awaiting for confirmation from the F.A that the deal had gone through when there was a knock at my door, Liam Dickinson entered and seemed a little less cocky than the last time he sat across from me. He enquired if the Ormerod rumours were true and said he was worried that another striker would drop him even further down the order, he was right it would and unless we had a really bad crisis he would see very little first team football this year. I asked him to leave it with me and I would talk to him by the end of play today, Port Vale who already had 3 of our players on loan was my first call and they were happy for him to join.
Not a big loss given his early season disrespect so everyone was a winner, Dickinson was on his way.
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Thats not the Martin Devaney i know, i've talked to him 3 times at Stairfoot tesco and he's a reet nice bloke.

I'm loving the story though, keep it up.
Good story mate Stanislas is a great championship player
Cheers for comments, I had to change my style of writing due to not having the time to go into this much detail so it now carries on In the story named The Caretaker, thanks again.