New Barnsley boss Danny Wilson is quietly confident he can revive the fortunes of the Championship strugglers in his second managerial spell in charge at Oakwell.
But the former Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United manager has stressed his return to the South Yorkshire club, nearly 20 years after his last term in charge, is “completely different” for this campaign.
Wilson was officially unveiled as the Reds’ ninth manager in the last decade yesterday at a press conference at the stadium,
And the 53-year-old former Barnsley player, player-manager and then ultimately manager, is under no illusions the tough challenge which greets him with the Reds rooted to the foot of the table and firmly embroiled in a relegation battle.
“I feel the situation is completely different now,” admitted Wilson, who guided Barnsley to a memorable promotion to the Premier League in 1997 in his first spell in charge.
“For all the memories that you have from many years ago, it really counts for nothing at the moment.
“It’s a feel-good factor from my point of view, certainly, but that alone won’t get us a result on Saturday [away to Leeds United]. But I think the whole scenario to come back is a dream.
“They do say ‘never go back’, but is that always in hindsight? “There are a few managers who have done well when they’ve gone back to a club. I don’t think of things like that. It’s a terrific challenge, but it’s a tough one.
“Let’s make no bones about it, there are some very tough games coming. But what I’ve seen of the players, and the games I’ve watched, they’ve got the quality here to stay up. We have to carry that belief - and there’s no better than a derby game on Saturday.”
Wilson, whose first spell in charge of the Reds was from June 1994 until July 1998, met the players yesterday prior to his unveiling.
And the former Reds’ midfielder, who made 77 appearances for the club during his playing days, admitted coming back to Oakwell was a strange experience for him.
“It’s a little surreal to be back, but it’s very exciting, I know that,” he added.
“I’m really looking forward to it. You don’t often envisage coming back to a place of work where you’ve enjoyed so much time, but fortunately from my point of view it’s happened and it’s a fantastic time in my position.”
However, bizarrely, Barnsley refused to reveal the length of Wilson’s contract.
Barnsley chief executive Ben Mansford admitted:“After careful and considered thought in private [we decided] Danny was the unquestionable choice to take us forward.
“We were disappointed [former manager] David Flitcroft didn’t drive on from last year, but when we looked at the shortlist of candidates and applicants, well, there was only one gentleman at the top of that who we felt could drive this football club forward, unite this club and have the experience to manage a situation. We’re delighted to have got him.”
Mansford admitted that the club were “acutely aware” of doing their business in private after the farce that surrounded the search for their last manager.
Former Doncaster Rovers manager Sean O’Driscoll was understood to have agreed a deal in principle to join the club, but the deal ultimately fell through. The Reds also tried to entice Terry Butcher to Oakwell, but he snubbed them. Mansford wasn’t at the club then, but admitted: “We were aware of the rather public and, at times, quite embarrassing managerial search last year.
“I don’t want to cast any negativity in the individuals involved in that, but we’ve tried to conduct our business in private.”