MARTIN Devaney believes results while he is caretaker will not affect his chances of becoming Barnsley’s next head coach, a position for which he is understood to be one of the candidates.
The Reds parted company with Poya Asbaghi on Sunday, two days after relegation was confirmed to League One with a 2-1 loss at Huddersfield Town on Friday evening. His assistant Ferran Sibila also left.
Former Barnsley player Devaney has taken over as caretaker and is thought to be under consideration for the permanent job, along with others.
The recruitment process has begun this week but is expected to be exhaustive and last beyond the end of the season a week tomorrow, with the aim of an appointment being made before pre-season begins in mid-June.
Barnsley’s last six permanent head coaches have been non-British, with none of them having managed in this country before arriving at Oakwell.
With post-Brexit rules meaning there are far fewer overseas coaches who fit the criteria to work in England, and the Reds’ budget and appeal reduced significantly following relegation, the pool of foreign options is likely to be shallow.
But Barnsley are understood to be considering both overseas and UK-based candidates.
Former Barnsley midfielder Alex Neil and Michael Flynn, who had success as Newport County manager, were major candidates before Asbaghi was appointed in November when they were both out of work. But Neil is now Sunderland manager and Flynn has taken charge of Walsall. Belgian Wouter Vrancken, who is in charge of Belgian top flight club Mechelen, was also one of the chief candidates before the job went to Asbaghi.
Devaney is the caretaker for the final three games of the season, starting with Tuesday’s 2-0 loss at home to Blackpool.
The popular former winger, who played 176 games for the Reds, has been coach of their under 18s then under 23s before joining Asbaghi’s first team staff at Christmas. He is being assisted by under 18s coach Tom Harban, who is from Barnsley and was a reserves player at Oakwell, and Jo Laumann, who was caretaker in November but has been away on a coaching course this week.
Devaney said: “I think it’s very very difficult to judge me on this situation. We’ve been relegated and we’re trying to pick people up. I know people will judge because I am in the hotseat, but no one at the club is judging me on results.
“We are at the bottom of the league and it’s going to take a lot of time to get the team playing how I want to play.
“I have had one tactical session and I will have another one on Friday. To turn around a team and get them playing my identity and style, and the way the club have played in the past, takes longer than two sessions. I am sure all the fans are aware of that, they have been very supportive and I want that to continue.
“I am doing the best I can.
“I am using the experience then we will see what happens. Hopefully I can lift a few little things and get things a bit better in the next week.”
Asked whether his first week in the role has given him extra desire to do the job permanently, Devaney said: “We will have to see. Timing is everything.
“I have enjoyed it even though I am so disappointed we have been relegated.
“I am a massive fan and I am Barnsley through and through.
“My kids are Barnsley boys and they are disappointed. It is bizarre for them that I am in this situation but everyone is supporting me. I will focus on the next two games then there will be discussions with the club. But I am privileged to be in the position I am in.”
Asbaghi came in to Oakwell to say goodbye on Sunday. Devaney said: “It’s never nice. He is a really good person, and so is Ferran. It’s always disappointing to see a colleague lose his job but we understand football is about winning games. Everyone has to look at themselves and regarding the situation and why we are where we are.”
He added: “It’s difficult, it’s frustrating and it hasn’t been nice – especially in the last few weeks then Friday. But in the summer there will be a lot of planning to make sure we are a force to be reckoned with. I am sure it will be the plan to keep the best players and then, with the players who have underperformed, try to find out why and make that situation better in the summer.
“The young players are going to have to be a big part of it. I am using the next game and potentially the last game to give them an opportunity.”
Barnsley now complete their season against two mid-table teams in 12.30pm kick-offs. They host Preston North End tomorrow then visit West Bromwich Albion a week later.