He’s Barnsley caretaker again after another manager, but things are a little different for Adam Murray in the Barnsley dugout this year…
Adam Murray has been here before.
Exactly here, in fact. The man asked to step in as Barnsley caretaker manager after Gerhard Struber left Oakwell last week to become New York Red Bulls head coach is familiar with the position, given that he was doing exactly the same thing at more or less exactly the same time a year ago, after Daniel Stendel’s departure.
So he’s in a decent position to deal with the peculiarities of taking over a job mid-season, and the uncertainty that comes with that.
“When you lose a manager for whatever reason, it always is a tough time for the initial couple of days because it’s there’s a little bit of the unknown,” Murray told The Totally Football League Show: Extra-Time ahead of the first game of his second spell, against Bristol City on Saturday.
“I think for us at the minute, how we finished last season and what we managed to achieve in the end in staying up was a miracle, really. So there’s a real positive atmosphere around the dressing room.
“We were we were all gutted that Gerhard left to obviously go and have a new opportunity. But we made sure that straight away we allowed the players to have their own conversations about that and get their own feelings out about that
“We had to allow that process, but then we got our focus straight back on to what we have to achieve now and the job in hand.”
Things aren’t completely the same as in 2019, though.
“The last time when I took over as caretaker manager for them few games, we were probably in a little bit of a worse position than we are at the minute. We hadn’t won in a lot of games and our form wasn’t great. This time we’ve lost our manager for different reasons, and I think we’re we’re probably in a better place than we were last time.
“We obviously aren’t where we want to be in the league, but our performances haven’t been too bad. We’ve been unlucky in a few games and there’s a lot of good, positive work that’s gone in. So we’ve got a decent platform to build from. And hopefully that starts on Saturday.”
And furthermore, the set-up at Barnsley is designed to make transitions like this easier.
“I think the biggest thing that personally I took from [working with Struber] is probably the detail that we went into over the 12 months. I think we’re very lucky here that we have a club philosophy.
“I think the biggest thing for us is we try and create an unbelievably high intensity and tempo in possession and out of possession.
“I think the out of possession part of our game is probably our biggest strength: we like to press, we like to counter-press. But within that, there’s a lot of detail that goes into it. It’s not just a case of running after the ball and trying to win it back as quick as you can, which some people kind of associate with pressing. There’s a lot of detail that goes into making that work.
“Then when we’re in possession, we try and penetrate as quickly as we can and cause opposition problems. Last season, I think it was a great example of how that can work – we caused all the big teams problems, especially towards the back end of the season. It’s a philosophy that you need everybody to buy into. You need the players to understand how it can be effective and get there buy-in. And I think once you do that and you get everybody on the same page, it is a really effective way of playing.”
And so, the inevitable question: does Murray want the job full-time?
“I can’t allow my focus to drift onto me and be selfish with my thinking because there’s too much going on at the minute for me to do that. I think if I did that, it would be a bad decision for everybody, and I don’t think we’d have the focus that we need in the group.
“For my journey, I feel like I’m in a really good place. I really enjoy the position in the role that I worked at this club. At some point in the future, I will want to go back into being a head coach, but I’m not really in a rush for that.
“I’ve learned so much over the last two or three years that has shaped my philosophy and made me a lot clearer in my mind of how I want to play and how I want to go about things. I’m still on that learning journey. So if something comes up that that fits my vision then great. If not, I love the place I’m working and the people that I’m working with. So it’s a win-win really for me.”
You can hear the full interview on The Totally Football League Show. Listen ad-free on The Athletic – subscribe for £1/month here.
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