There’s a new favourite for the Barnsley job: Five facts about Valerien Ismael

Jack Kitson by Jack Kitson / 20 October 2020, 15:54

**Barnsley have since appointed Valerien Ismael as their new Head Coach**

We’ve now reached the two week point in Barnsley’s search for a new manager.

Up until today (Tuesday) Darren Moore had been cemented to the peak of the next Barnsley manager market, but in truth it’s always been difficult to envision a move happening.

Now there’s a brand new frontrunner in Valerien Ismael, who can currently be backed at 7/4 to make the Oakwell hot seat his own.

You may be wondering who he is, so without further ado here are five facts about the Frenchman...

He played in the Premier League

Back in the January 1998 transfer window Crystal Palace splashed out a then club-record £2.75m for the services of Ismael, a defender at Strasbourg. However, less than six months later and the Eagles had suffered relegation down to the second division after they finished rock-bottom of the Premier League. Come October of the following season Ismael had returned to France.

“Look, I was young,” he revealed to The Athletic in March. “I had that desire to try playing in a different country, to progress my career, and the Premier League was progress. Looking back, it was all a good experience, part of my education, even if it did not go quite as well as any of us hoped...”

While his time in England didn’t go to plan, Ismael enjoyed a successful playing career during which he won a number of trophies including a Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal double at both Werder Bremen and Bayern Munich, the Intertoto Cup, Coupe de la Ligue and Coupe de France at Strasbourg and the Coupe de la Ligue again with Lens.

His managerial career didn’t get off to the best of starts

Ismael oversaw the youth teams at Hannover 96 II and VfL Wolfsburg II - where he won the Regionalliga Nord (German fourth tier) - before he kicked-off his senior managerial career at German second division side 1. FC Nürnberg in June 2014. 

Five months later and he’d had a cold dose of how ruthless the managerial arena can be after he was sent packing after just 14 games, over half of which he lost.

He returned to familiar surroundings to manage VfL Wolfsburg’s U23 side once more - and won the Regionalliga Nord again - before he stepped up to take control of the club’s first team in October 2016, a post which Andre Villas-Boas was also linked with. 

However, come February of the following year he’d been axed with just 17 matches on the board.

It didn’t get better...he was then sacked after one game

Unfortunately, things didn’t get any better for Ismael in his next spell in charge of Greek side Apollon Smyrnis, who sacked the manager after just one match, yes one match.

The result? A 1-0 defeat on home soil. Six days later the President took action and sent him packing after the duo fell out. Savage.

On his Twitter page, Ismael revealed that he’d received threats from the President, who had also tried to influence his starting-11 and his in-game tactics.

He broke lockdown rules

Ismael’s luck changed for the better - initially - when he ventured over to Austria to take the helm of LASK. His start was both electric and record breaking, as he bagged a club-high 17 points from his opening eight matches.

He then went on to enjoy a memorable run in the Europa league - more on that below - and come lockdown LASK were leading the domestic title race and on course for their first championship in 55 years. 

But, their hopes were dashed after the club was penalised six points - docked to four points - for breaching lockdown rules following the revelation of a secretly taped training session.

Red Bull Salzburg went on to grab the spoils - the same club where former Barnsley boss Gerhard Struber worked at youth level - whereas LASK finished down in 4th.

In total he managed 50 games, with an impressive 62% win record.

He’s managed against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Man Utd

Last season LASK impressively topped their Europa League group, which featured Sporting, PSV and Rosenborg, with 13 points from a possible 18.

They beat Club Brugge in the opening round of knockout stage ties, which set up a tasty clash against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Man Utd in the last-16. "It's the match of the century for us, but one we have to play without our family and friends present,” Ismael said before the game.

"They [United] are very strong, technically and physically, but maybe what is to our advantage is that they underestimate us and the situation, not playing in front of fans, and the fact they don't know us - that could help us."

Unfortunately for Ismael his side were thumped 5-0 on home soil in March, and he’d been sacked by the time Europa League football resumed in August.

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