Jens Keller – the former Schalke04 manager – is one of several overseas coaches who have been interviewed by the Reds since his fellow German Daniel Stendel was sacked exactly a month ago. Keller has watched a recent Barnsley game and is understood to have impressed during the interview process. Poya Asbaghi, the coach of IFK Gothenburg, has pulled out of contention for the job according to reports in Sweden.
Caretaker Murray, who has drawn three and lost one of his four games in charge, is set to lead the Reds against Stoke City in a meeting of the bottom two sides in the Championship. He has impressed the board and is thought be a candidate for the job. Tomorrow’s result may have an impact on whether a new head coach is installed during the two-week international break which starts this week. If the Reds do decide to make a change, Keller is understood to be a preferred candidate.
Murray told the Chronicle: “It doesn’t come up in conversations but the players aren’t stupid. They watch TV and listen to the radio, read things online, but it doesn’t have an impact on us and our thought process. We’re fully focused on winning the next game.”
Murray has been in the role for four weeks. He said: “I am not sure what my future will hold but I am not thinking about that. I haven’t had an interview or put my name forward for the job. When a decision is made on my future by the club, then I will have to take a step back and think about what I want to do but, until then, I am just focusing on the players and getting results.
“Whether it is in this role or another role, I want to have a longer relationship with this football club and to help them fight to stay in this division. I was asked to put some good foundations in place and get some continuity in the performances. Hopefully we have done that and now we have another international break coming up which will give whoever is in charge a chance to work with the players.
“Whatever the club decides, I will be fully in support of that decision. I have really enjoyed working with the players and seeing how hard they have been working on the training pitch for us as staff and for the club and the fans.”
The Reds are winless in 14 matches which is the longest such run since the 1958/59 season when they did not record a victory in 15 attempts. Should they fail to beat Stoke, Barnsley will be on their joint worst run since a 26-game winless sequence in 1953 which is the club record.
The Reds have won the fewest games in the EFL this season, joint on one with League One strugglers Southend United who are the only side in the top four divisions to have conceded more goals than Barnsley’s 29. They have already lost more league matches this season than in all of their promotion campaign in League One last season.
They are winless in their last seven matches at Oakwell with three defeats and four draws including the last three games. Murray, who was disappointed with his side’s defending from set pieces in the 2-2 draw with Bristol City on Friday, said: “The spirit we have shown will help us grind results out. We have picked up three points with draws against top teams.
“There is a lot of work to do on the training pitch, I can’t make our shape and defending from set pieces better in a few weeks. We need to nail it over time. The pleasing thing is we’re scoring goals and the goals we are conceding are things I can fix.”