French Connection For Barnsley

Last updated : 24 October 2020 By Rob Miles

Barnsley have confirmed their ninth permanent manager in nine years with the appointment of Frenchman Valérien Ismaël.

The 45 year old becomes the fourth appointment by the club’s current owners and is the sixth appointment (permanent or caretaker) made in the club’s history in October.

Ismaël does have some experience of English football having played for Crystal Palace in the 1997-1998 Premier League campaign – the same year they and Barnsley played in the top flight, becoming the club’s then record signing at £2.75m, however he made his debut for the Eagles the week after they had lost 1-0 at Oakwell in an FA Cup fourth round victory over Leicester.

Ismaël was born in Strasbourg and made his debut for his home city club in January 1994 making 77 appearances before his big money move to South London four years later.

He only stayed at Palace for ten months however and returned to France in October 1998, moving to Lens.

Ismaël would go on to feature for Strasbourg again (on loan) before moving to Germany (the home country of his grandfather), joining Werder Bremen who he helped win a German double of league and cup in 2003-2004 before moving to giants Bayern Munich in 2005. Despite being red carded on his debut he won his second German double in 2005-2006.

Later moving on to Hannover 96 he retired due to injury in October 2009 at the age of 34 and became Hannover’s assistant manager before later becoming a member of their board in 2010.

His first managerial role came with Hannover’s second team in November 2011 before leaving the club permanently in June 2013.

Ismaël became manager of Wolfsburg’s second team in July 2013 and led them to the Regionalliga Nord title in 2013-2014 but they lost the promotion play-off to Sonnenhof Großaspach.

A first managerial role of a first team arrived that summer as he took over at FC Nürnberg but after winning his first match in charge would go on to lose eight of the next 13 and was sacked in November 2014 after just five months in charge.

A return to Wolfsburg’s second team came in June 2015 and he again won the Regionalliga Nord in his first season however another promotion play-off defeat followed, on this occasion to Jahn Regensburg before an opportunity with the senior squad arose in October 2016 due to the sacking of Dieter Hecking. Only initially meant to be on an interim basis Ismaël won two of his first four matches in charge and the role was made permanent in November 2016.

However following this Wolfsburg won only four of 13 matches (three of which came in a row) and suffered eight defeats which saw Ismaël sacked in February 2017.

A complete change of scene then followed for Ismaël as he moved to Greece in May 2018 to take charge of Apollon Smyrnis… for six days… he was dismissed by the president after one match, a 1-0 home defeat to Larissa after falling out with the man in charge.

After a year out of the managerial game Ismaël moved to Austria to manage LASK whilst also becoming their sporting director and led the team to their best start in history, collecting 17 points from eight games and guiding them to the Champions League play-offs for the first time. They would be eliminated by Club Brugge but then dropped into the Europa League, again for the first time ever and made it to the Round of 16 where they were beaten by Manchester United, and then surprisingly he was axed in July.

Despite being officially annouced as the Reds new head coach, Adam Murray will remain in caretaker charge for the trip to Millwall.