Valerien Ismael is hoping to build on a ‘perfect start’ to his spell at Barnsley after he recorded the second biggest victory in the first game of any manager or head coach in the club’s history.
The 45-year-old Frenchman was appointed as Gerhard Struber’s successor as head coach a week ago today on a three-year deal.
He flew into the UK on Saturday then watched the 1-1 draw at Millwall under caretaker Adam Murray later that day, before taking training on Sunday and Monday then overseeing Tuesday’s 3-0 success over Queens Park Rangers.
That ended the joint longest wait for a first league victory of a season – seven games – since a century ago in 1920/21.
Only Daniel Stendel, Ismael’s former colleague at Hannover 96, recorded a bigger win in his first Barnsley match when the 2018/19 League One season began with a 4-0 victory over Oxford United at Oakwell.
Ismael told the Chronicle: “It was a perfect start. It is always very good if you can start with a win, it gives you confidence for your work.
“The players believe more in your words and more quickly in your words if you win.
“It was very important to get the first three points and, secondly, I saw a lot of good situations.
“It is a good feeling for the players.
“The Championship games are very close and everybody can beat everybody.
“You have to be concentrated and focused on details. The win was the first step in the right direction.”
Barnsley now host Watford tomorrow then visit Cardiff City and Derby County before a two-week international break next month.
Ismael told the Chronicle: “We will see if we can go on a good run now.
“It is a long season with a lot of games.
“It is a long way to go and we have to make sure we do the same performance every time.”
As a player, Ismael was a France under 21 international and appeared more than 300 times in the top flights of France, England – with Crystal Palace in 1998 – and Germany, where he won league and cup doubles with Werder Bremen and Bayern Munich.
Most of his managerial career has been spent in charge of second teams in the German lower leagues but he has brief experience in the German top flight with Wolfsburg as well as 50-game spell in Austria last season with LASK Linz.
Ismael’s LASK competed in the Europa League, losing to Manchester United in the last 16, and looked likely to win the title before being deducted 12 points for breaching lockdown rules.
He said: “I got a lot of experience at LASK. It was a high level and the intensity was very high. I needed this experience for the Championship which is the same way and a tough league.
“You have to just focus on one game after one game after one game.”
Striker Dominik Frieser played under Ismael at LASK before moving to Barnsley in the summer.
Ismael said: “I am very happy to see him again and work with him again.
“Friesy was last year a very important player for me and he will be this season for Barnsley. I know him very well, he knows me very well and it’s part of his job now to show the young guys how we want to play.
“I know Michael Sollbauer and Patrick Schmidt from Austria. The other guys, I have seen a lot of videos.
“We have very good young players who I am very happy with and we want to improve them.”
Ismael has brought in one first team coach Joseph Laumann to work alongside Adam Murray, who was caretaker for the last three games, and Tonda Eckert while Wolfgang Luisser has left the club.
He said: “The staff made a very good job this week, everyone was open to what I want and translated for the guys.”
Dane Murphy, the chief executive, said last week that Barnsley are hoping to sign a new striker from the free agent market. Ismael said: “We spoke with Dane about the possibility but it is not easy. You can only take the free agents. They are not fit and I need players with 100 per cent fitness to play the football I want to play.
“I don’t want players who will wait six to eight weeks to be fit.
“If we are not sure the player is what we want, we have to leave it.”