Barnsley manager Valerian Ismael is said to have ‘admirers’ at West Bromwich Albion, as the hunt for a new manager at the Hawthorns drags on.
A report from the Daily Mail includes the 45-year-old as one manager some at the club admire, along with Lincoln City manager Michael Appleton, although West Brom are currently reluctant to pay compensation for either.
The Frenchman was a key architect of Barnsley’s meteoric rise up the Championship table and has deservedly received plaudits for the job he’s done at Oakwell, transforming the club from relegation candidates to promotion contenders.
During the 2020/21 season, the Tykes went unbeaten in 18 of their last 21 league games before the playoffs, climbing from an already impressive midtable position to fifth at the expense of clubs like Reading and Cardiff City who narrowly missed out on the playoffs, and Bournemouth who dropped down to sixth.
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But despite their brave efforts against Swansea, the Welsh side went through on aggregate (2-1), leaving Barnsley fans wondering if that was their best chance to gain promotion to the Premier League for a number of years.
If West Brom do poach Ismael, the answer to that question might be yes – but Barnsley’s loss would be the Baggies’ gain and if appointed – fans at the Hawthorns will be hoping the manager can work the same magic with a recently relegated side.
However, former manager of Preston North End Alex Neil and former Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes are both free agents and could therefore be viewed as more preferable options.
Considering the other names being thrown about at the moment, this would probably be one of the more acceptable appointments – but it would be interesting to see how well he does in a completely different environment.
When Ismael joined Barnsley, there were hovering just above the relegation zone and needed a manager to bring them closer to midtable. That was the only realistic wish Tykes fans had with the surprise departure of Gerhard Struber to the US and poor results before his arrival. He did that and more – an impressive achievement considering this was his first managerial spell in England.
Managing West Brom is a different kettle of fish though. The Baggies, after their recent relegation, will be expected to push for the Premier League and it would be fascinating to see him under this pressure.
But overall, this would be a good appointment and it’s a potential candidate that can excite the fans, especially if Ismael can get the best out of his players at the Hawthorns like he’s been able to at his current club.