Skip to main content

Dane Murphy keeping his feet on the ground after Barnsley’s charge up the table

Barnsley v Blackburn Rovers – Sky Bet Championship – Oakwell
(Image credit: Zac Goodwin)

Barnsley chief executive Dane Murphy admits managing expectations will not be easy following the club’s charge up the Sky Bet Championship table.

The Reds, tipped for relegation at the start of the season, climbed briefly into the play-off places after their midweek win at QPR.

If they beat Birmingham at Oakwell on Saturday for a seventh straight league win – a club record-extending run in the second tier – they could end up back in the top six.

“I’m keeping my feet on the ground,” Murphy told the PA news agency. “But right now I’m on my tippy-toes.”

The 34-year-old American added: “I’m staying away from all predictions. We’re avoiding the ‘P’ words. The only thing we can really do is prepare.

“All predictions, all talk of dreams and day-dreaming, I’m trying to avoid.”

Barnsley dodged relegation last summer only because Wigan were deducted 12 points for going into administration and the Reds were winless after their first six league games this season.

Another relegation dogfight beckoned, but when previous head coach Gerhard Struber departed to take charge of Major League Soccer side New York Red Bulls, Murphy played a masterstroke.

The former DC United midfielder, one of the English Football League’s youngest chief executives, appointed former LASK head coach Valerien Ismael and Barnsley have not looked back.

Ismael, a former defender who made 13 appearances for Crystal Palace in 1998, has won 16 of his 23 league games in charge of the Reds.

“Expectation is obviously well beyond where we thought it would be,” Murphy said. “But Valerien is the first one to trumpet that it’s one game at a time.

“But, did we ever expect to be where we are? No, I don’t think anyone is telling you the truth if they say this was what they expected.

“Now as a club we have to adjust. We have to make sure we keep this level of success and growth, among our individuals and our staff and our club as a whole, to make sure we can continue to take steps forward.”

Ismael, 45, who has also had spells in charge of Wolfsburg and Apollon Smyrnis, was among Barnsley’s top targets following Struber’s departure.

“We are continually looking at head coaches who implement the pressing model, the gegenpressing, German high-press, create as many chances as possible, and last season Valerien was second in all of Europe, at LASK,” Murphy said.

“He has a self-assurance and belief and directness to the message that he tries to convey.

“There’s no grey area. He doesn’t waver. He knows exactly what his approach is and how to garner success from that approach.

“It’s very hard, when you speak to Valerien, or you’re around him, to not believe in what he’s saying.

“He brings about this confidence and belief that every time you step on the field, if we approach the game the way we’re supposed to and we all do our job, then we’ll be competitive.

“It’s just been infectious throughout the club.”