The Reds’ board have spoken to candidates, mostly from overseas, as they look for a replacement for Daniel Stendel. Murray took over as caretaker after Stendel’s dismissal almost three weeks ago and oversaw Saturday’s 1-1 home draw with Swansea City, after which they fell to last place, and Tuesday’s 2-2 draw at leaders West Bromwich Albion in which Barnsley led 2-0.
The Reds have been linked with Poya Asbaghi, the current manager of Swedish top flight club IFK Gothenburg. He is understood to be one of several coaches interviewed and ‘a person of interest.’
The Reds are bottom on goal difference while they are three points from safety ahead of tomorrow’s trip to third-bottom Yorkshire rivals Huddersfield Town. Murray told the Chronicle: “I haven’t got it in my head that I want the job but I haven’t got it in my head that I don’t want to be in this seat much longer. I could be selfish and make it all about me but it’s about the bigger picture and making sure that there is a really good environment for whoever gets to sit in the hotseat for the rest of the season. We still have a hell of a lot of work to do to get the team where I think it can be. But I am fairly confident that, if and when a new manager comes in, myself and the staff can say: ‘here’s a fantastic product, take it forward’.”
Murray – the former under 18s coach – is understood to have impressed the board, with co-owner Chien Lee attending Tuesday’s match. He said: “I am in constant dialogue with the board. They are in a process which I fully understand. I haven’t told them I want them to make a decision. We are all just going with the flow. It’s all about what is best for the club, whether that takes a couple of days or weeks. I could get a phonecall in two days and they have found the man they want but, for the sake of the players, I have to plan for longer.”
Asked if he would take the permanent job, should he be offered it, Murray said: “You would have to ask me that question on Sunday morning when I am not thinking about the next opposition. You get two good results and people think you are half decent but lose and you’re the worst thing since sliced bread. On Thursday, I was the under 12s coach to some people then we have got two good results and things change.”
Asked if he would have taken two points from his first two games, against sides who were in the top four, Murray told the Chronicle: “I would have preferred six. But, when you are in the situation we are in and you are trying to build confidence, it has to come in stepping stones. You can’t go from not winning in ten or 11 games to suddenly beating the top of the table teams, it doesn’t work like that. The performances in hard games have been the most important things and they will build confidence and lead to points later on.”
Barnsley are currently winless in 12 league games following the opening day success over Fulham. That is their longest such run since 1971 when John McSeveney’s side also won their opening game but then did not secure victory again for 13 matches. Murray said: “Mentally, what the players have shown in tough circumstances has been really pleasing. “We have faced setbacks but reacted positively. A couple of players have said to me ‘we feel like Championship players now’.
“We’re doing a pre-season during a season. We are having to learn on the job. The international break gave us a couple of weeks but now we’re having to implant new ideas while trying to get points which is tricky. We need to improve but always stay in touch in the league and, when we see the fruits of our work, we need to be in striking distance. We’re tweaking the structure and organisation to give us a fighting chance.
“We’re all realistic that it will be a really tough season but optimistic at the same time. You can hide the fact that we are in a relegation fight until after Christmas but the biggest thing I have learned is to address it early on. As long as you have a group of soldiers ready to fight, you have a great chance. The league table now is fairly similar to this time last year.
“But there is a bigger group of teams who we feel will be fighting to stay up. I honestly believe we have enough to stay up – the players have enough ability and mental strength, but the most important thing is to stay consistent. “We are focusing on a mini-league and we want to get to the top of that. I have told the players the number of games we need to win, based on the history of the Championship, and we’ll focus on that. It’s a marathon of a season. We need to win games, of course, but we need to not lose our focus and become erratic.”