Could Michael Duff switch Cheltenham for Barnsley?
Barnsley’s search for a new head coach has burst into life following the news that the club have made an approach for Michael Duff.
The Tykes are searching for their fourth manager in a year after parting ways with Poya Asbaghi when the club’s relegation to League One had been confirmed a month ago.
Under Markus Schopp and then Asbaghi, Barnsley registered just six wins last term, and suffered 28 defeats en route to a rock-bottom standing.
It was a truly disastrous season for a club that memorably finished 5th under Valerien Ismael in 2020/21.
After the back-to-back disappointments of Schopp and Asbaghi, Barnsley are now looking for a manager who can revitalise the club and inspire an instant push back up to the second-tier, as Daniel Stendel memorably achieved in 2018/19.
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Could that manager be Duff?
The Cheltenham incumbent has transformed the fortunes of the club since his return as manager in September 2018.
At the time the Robins were 18th in League Two, yet in his first managerial job Duff switched things up by implementing a 3-5-2 formation and kept his troops in the league, finished 4th in his first full season, then won the league title the following year.
A tough campaign battling relegation was predicted, yet in Cheltenham’s first League One showing since 2008/09, Duff oversaw an extremely impressive 15th place finish - the club’s highest ever in the EFL - a whopping 16 points above the drop zone.
It’s an achievement which was well noted by EFL expert Gab Sutton in his League One Managers of the Season piece, which you can read below.
Duff’s continued upward trajectory and outstanding work on a small budget has seen him linked with many jobs, so it was only going to be a matter of time until another club came calling.
Gloucestershire Live journalist Jon Palmer reports that Barnsley have targeted the 44-year-old, whose contract expires next summer. It marks a different approach for a club that hasn’t appointed a British boss since Paul Heckingbottom in 2016.
Duff, who previously coached under the watch of Sean Dyche at Burnley, has swiftly moved to the top of the next Barnsley manager odds where he can currently be backed at 2/1 with BetVictor.
After seeing Forest Green Rovers lose Rob Edwards to Watford, and Exeter’s Matt Taylor hotly linked to Charlton, Cheltenham will be doing everything they can to keep hold of their highly-rated manager.
Duff is a club legend at Cheltenham and while he’ll no doubt have ambitions of continuing his rise up the league ladder, Barnsley would need to present an extremely tempting package in order to have any hope of luring him away from Whaddon Road. Barnsley’s high-turnover of managers could count against them, however you’d expect the club to be challenging at the top of the table next season.
Whether Duff would contemplate a switch to another League One team, only he knows. Should a Championship club come knocking it could be a different story - he’s currently a 50/1 shot for the Burnley job; odds we’d expect to tumble should his former side be relegated from the Premier League.
Elsewhere in the Barnsley betting, caretaker Martin Devaney is available at 6/1, but looks an increasingly unlikely appointment at this stage. As does the 12/1 priced Burton boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.
Mick McCarthy, also 12/1, is forever linked with a return to Barnsley, whereas former Tykes boss Daniel Stendel is out at 33/1.
Full odds below…