Are Barnsley set to take a gamble on Paul Simpson?

by Jack Kitson / 12 February 2018, 11:20

Barnsley’s search for a new manager is nearly a week old, and considering there is no clear favourite in the betting, supporters may well be braced for a lengthy wait for Paul Heckingbottom's successor.

Former Barnsley player Mick McCarthy, caretaker boss Paul Harsley, Lincoln’s Danny Cowley, Peterborough’s Grant McCann and even Steve McClaren have all been linked with the Championship post which was vacated by Heckingbottom last week.

McCarthy would no doubt be a popular pick, but with his contract at Ipswich expiring in the summer, Barnsley may decide to play the waiting game. If this is the case then Harsley could well oversee the first team for the rest of the season.

Lincoln gaffer Cowley has expressed his desire to continue his project at the club, while Posh boss McCann has drifted out to 14/1.

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One surprise name in the frame is Paul Simpson, England’s U20 boss, who stormed into the mix over the weekend. Simpson entered the market at 25/1 on Sunday, before bookmakers quickly cut his odds to just 2/1, making him the new outright favourite for the Tykes job...we take a look below.

Who is Paul Simpson?

Simpson, 51, is currently managing the England U20s side, a post he's held since May 2017.

Simpson has previously managed Preston, Shrewsbury, Stockport and Northwich Victoria, while he was player-manager at Carlisle and Rochdale, and an assistant to Steve McClaren at Newcastle and Derby.

Prior to management Simpson spent his playing career at Man City, Oxford and Wolves among others.

What has he achieved in management?

Simpson is only one of three England managers to lift a World Cup, having done so with England U20s last June after leading the youngsters to glory in South Korea, beating Venezuela 1-0 in the final.

Simpson previously led Carlisle to back-to-back promotions from non-league to League One, winning the League Two Manager of the Year award en route.

He also steered Shrewsbury to a League Two play-off final, took Rochdale through to a club record-equalling fifth round of the FA Cup, while at one point his Preston side were at the summit of the Championship - their highest position in 55 years - but in the end they missed out on a top-6 finish.

What's his link to Elvis Presley?

As excuses go Simpson’s decision to ban Elvis Presley at Deepdale has got to be right up there with the all-time classics. Back in August 2007, when managing Preston, he ordered the club to stop blasting out fans favourite 'Can't Help Falling In Love' because he thought it put both players and supporters in a bad mood...

Is an appointment at Barnsley likely?

Simpson has over 350 Football League matches under his belt. He’s managed promotion winning sides, suffered relegation, and experienced play-off final heartbreak.

After winning the World Cup last summer with England U20s he may well fancy a return to club management, and should Barnsley come calling he’s likely to snap their hands off.

However, on Monday morning reporter Alan Biggs tweeted:

Meanwhile, it's worth noting that Simpson hasn’t managed in the second-tier in over 10 years, so an appointment would be a big gamble on Barnsley’s part, especially given the club’s precarious position in the Championship table.

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