Danny Wilson: Joy and despair in South Yorkshire

Danny Wilson has been sacked by Barnsley after 14 months in charge
Danny Wilson has been sacked by Barnsley after 14 months in charge
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For the majority of the last 25 years, Danny Wilson has been a key figure in South Yorkshire football.

Arriving as a player for Sheffield Wednesday in 1990, Wilson today departed Barnsley after being dismissed as manager after 14 months in charge.

Wilson celebrates with his Barnsley players after winning promotion to the Premier League

Wilson celebrates with his Barnsley players after winning promotion to the Premier League

His influence both on and off the field in this area has brought both triumph and failure.

A League Cup winner as a player with the Owls and promotion to the Premier League as Barnsley boss gave him hero status in some corners of the county.

But being at the helm for much of the season when Wednesday tumbled out of the top flight and failing to win promotion from League One with Sheffield United damaged his reputation.

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Wilson with signings Simon Donnelly (left) and Phil O'Donnell (right) who both flopped at Hillsborough

Wilson with signings Simon Donnelly (left) and Phil O'Donnell (right) who both flopped at Hillsborough

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Given the former Northern Ireland international has made his base in the area, you would not bet against him popping up in the county again in the future.

But for now, we look back on his time so far in South Yorkshire.

Wilson looks on in anger after his Sheffield United side conceded a late equaliser in a 2011/12 Steel City derby at Bramall Lane

Wilson looks on in anger after his Sheffield United side conceded a late equaliser in a 2011/12 Steel City derby at Bramall Lane

1990-1993: SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY

Howard Wilkinson originally tried to sign Wilson from Brighton in July 1984. But it was Ron Atkinson who eventually brought him to Hillsborough in August 1990, paying Luton Town £200,000 for his services.

By the end of the season, Wilson was a League Cup and promotion winner as the Owls beat Manchester United to win the Rumbelows Cup and finished third in the old Division Two.

An industrious, relentless midfielder, Wilson quickly became a favourite among Wednesdayites during a real boom period for the club.

A key player in the side that finished third in the top flight in 1992, Wilson also helped Wednesday to both cup finals in 1993.

His final game for the Owls was the FA Cup final replay against Arsenal which ended in a 2-1 defeat after extra time.

He made 137 appearances for Wednesday, scoring 14 goals.

1993-1998: BARNSLEY

Wilson arrived at Oakwell in the summer of 1993 in a £200,000 switch, becoming player-coach under former Owls team mate Viv Anderson.

By the following summer – after Barnsley finished 18th in the newly rebranded second tier – Wilson was promoted to Reds boss after Anderson left to join Middlesbrough.

In his first season in charge, Wilson – aged just 35 – guided the Reds to sixth in the table. While normally enough to secure a play-off place, a reduction in the size of the Premier League meant only two teams would be promoted with fifth placed Tranmere grabbing the last play-off berth.

Though a midtable finish would follow in the next season, the 1996/97 campaign would deliver possibly the most glorious achievements in the club’s history.

Wilson took Barnsley to second in Division One, winning promotion to the top flight for the first time in the club’s history.

He could not save the Reds from relegation after one season, but it was a memorable year. Beating Liverpool at Anfield and Aston Villa at Villa Park in the league plus knocking Manchester United out of the FA Cup after holding them to a draw at Old Trafford.

But as the Reds dropped out of the top flight, Wilson would not.

1998-2000 SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY

Wilson made a shock return to Hillsborough in the summer of 1998 as he took the reins when the Owls opted not to extend Ron Atkinson’s second spell beyond one season.

He steered Wednesday to mid-table safety in his first season but the following year was a disaster.

It started with what would prove poor transfer business. Giles de Bilde came in for £3million along with Simon Donnelly and Phil O’Donnell, a trio who have hardly gone down in Owls folklore.

If transfer business was bad, the season was even worse.

Wednesday failed to win any of their first nine matches and would be victorious just eight times during that season as they tumbled towards relegation.

The embarrassment of September’s 8-0 demolition at Newcastle failed to see the end of Wilson’s reign but the pressure on him only grew.

He was eventually sacked on March 21, 2000, with Wednesday sitting second bottom in the Premier League with 21 points from 29 games.

2011-2013 SHEFFIELD UNITED

Wilson would spend 11 years away from South Yorkshire as he took charge of Bristol City, MK Dons, Hartlepool and Swindon.

Few would have predicted that when he did return to the county, that it would be with the Blades.

And it is fair to say it was not the most popular of appointments.

The fact that success in his previous five managerial spells had been limited – promotion with Hartlepool, play-off final runs with Swindon being the highlights – was not the main reason behind the ire of Blades supporters. Instead it was his deep links with their Steel City rivals.

Car park protests followed and it took a good while for Wilson to quieten his critics. But he ultimately did that with a strong season that looked destined to deliver promotion from League One.

However, the Blades collapsed late in the campaign as the Ched Evans case hit hard at Bramall Lane. Despite winning 90 points that season, the Blades were pipped to second spot by bitter rivals Wednesday before eventually losing to Huddersfield on penalties in the play-off final.

Wilson kept the Blades in the hunt for automatic promotion the following season but was sacked on April 10, 2013 after a defeat to Crawley Town at Bramall Lane. The United board were looking to deliver a late jolt four weeks before the end of the campaign with the Blades sitting six points off second spot

2013-2015 BARNSLEY

After David Flitcroft left the Reds in November 2013, the door was opened for Wilson to make his return to Oakwell.

And the stage was set for him to further bolster his hero status by guiding Barnsley away from Championship relegation. But the Reds would lose more than half their games under Wilson that season and were relegated at the end of last season.

Last summer saw a major turnover in players at Oakwell, overseen by Wilson as he plotted an immediate return to the Championship. However the campaign has been blighted by inconsistent results, leaving the Reds on the fringes of a highly-congested group pushing for a top six finish.

Wilson was sacked on February 12, 2015 with the Barnsley board citing their disappointment at the league position, particularly with the Reds having League One’s fifth biggest wage bill.