BARNSLEY hit rock-bottom at the weekend - and unfortunately so did Keith Hill as he was sacked as the club’s manager.
It was a say day at Oakwell as the Reds were beaten 3-1 by managerless Blackburn and an even sadder evening as Hill was relieved of his managerial duties after 18 months in charge of the Championship.
Reds directors Don Rowing and Barry Taylor delivered the bad news to Hill within half an hour of the match finishing - and the search for a replacement began.
The Star understands that within a few hours of Hill’s departure the club received contact from between 10 and 20 managers who all expressed an interest in becoming his successor.
Former Doncaster Rovers boss Sean O’Driscoll is believed to be a leading contender for the job, but The Star has discovered current Brentford manager Uwe Rosler is the club’s number one choice to replace Hill.
Ex-Chesterfield manager John Sheridan and former Sheffield Wednesday boss Gary Megson having also expressed an initial interest in the role.
Nicky Butt, the former Manchester United midfielder, has made contact with the club to throw his hat in the ring, as have Micky Mellon, the former Fleetwood Town manager, and Paulo Sousa, the ex Queens Park Rangers, Swansea City and Leicester boss.
And, perhaps more surprisingly, former Sheffield Wednesday striker Shefki Kuqi has expressed an interest though he is currently still playing for Hibernian in the Scottish Premier League.
Aidy Boothroyd, currently managing League Two Northampton Town, is interested in taking over at Oakwell as he looks to return to management in the Championship, while former England defender Terry Butcher, current Notts County manager Keith Curle and Leeds United youth team coach and ex Sheffield United player Bobby Davison are keen to challenge themselves at Championship level.
But for Hill it’s pastures new, having struggled to improve the club’s poor form which has seen the Reds win just one of their last 14 league outings.
The Reds have also not won at home for nearly three months, with their last win at Oakwell having been a 1-0 victory over Bristol City on 1st September.
And slipping to bottom of the table finally tipped the scales with the club now firmly embroiled in a relegation scrap.
Hill helped the Reds retain their Championship status last season, but the test of the Championship ultimately proved too much this time around. It’s little surprise his record at Oakwell doesn’t make pretty reading with 41 defeats from his 75 games in charge.
There were 19 victories in there - some of them crackers - and 15 draws.
But having tasted unparalled success at Rochdale, Hill now knows for sure the incredible demands of the Championship, especially on a shoestring budget.
Not that Hill has bothered too much about a lack of funds, his recruitment having been done with a frugal hand.
However, results dictate the length of a manager’s tenure - and, speaking exclusively to The Star before his sacking, Hill admitted two days before the Rovers match that he was experiencing “without question, the toughest time I’ve faced as a manager”.
The Star spoke with Hill briefly yesterday but he was unable to make any comment on his sacking and his future, having been bound by contractual obligations as he tries to secure an agreeable compromise agreement.
It was a real shame that Hill had to depar. He’s well-respected by the Reds’players and is undoubtedly a hard worker. But, with 21 games left in the domestic campaign, at least whoever does replace him will have a decent length of time to hopefully turn things around.
“As much as we’ve played attractive football a lot this season, unfortunately the results have not been what we’ve expected,” said Rowing.
“We’ve tried to give Keith as much time as we can to turn things around, but the board felt the time had come for a change. We’ve bottom of the league and we’ve got give someone else a decent chance to improve our
fortunes. Keith was all right when we told him and he realised that things haven’t gone right.
“He’s given an opportunity to youngsters and done a lot of good things.
“He works hard, but at the end of the day our results haven’t been good enough. It’s as simple as that.
“Keith is a super footballing man, but we couldn’t let the situation get any worse so we all just wish him all the best for the future now.
“It saddens me, but overall things haven’t worked out as we all would have liked.
“It’s very important we stay in the Championship. The club’s supporters demand it and we’ve got to try and give them Championship football.”
On the pitch the opening goal came just before the half-hour mark as Manchester United loanee Josh King left Scott Wiseman - who came in for strong criticism with Matty Done from the home supporters - and Stephen Foster for dead before slotting an angled effort past keeper Luke Steele.
The boos were turned up a significant notch two minutes before the interval as Ruben Rochina strolled comfortably past Wiseman before driving home low and hard past Steele.
There was little craft or invention from the hosts in the second period, but after Rochina had fluffed a great chance to steer Rovers further clear the Reds grabbed themselves a lifeline in the 76th minute as midfielder Stephen Dawson drilled a shot into the top corner.
The hosts briefly rallied but it didn’t last long and another defensive mix-up was punished deep into stoppag time as Jordan Rhodes was allowed to burst through the heart of the defence before sliding a shot past Steele from the edge of the box.