DANNY WILSON may have been in the management game for almost two decades, but he is crystal-clear on one thing.
Namely that the rebuilding job he will undertake this summer at Barnsley represents the biggest of his long career in the dug-out, which started at his current place of employment back in June 1994.
Since returning for a second spell in charge of the Reds last December, the 54-year-old’s managerial odyssey has taken in six other clubs.
But the amount of work in his in-tray at Oakwell this close season promises to afford him hardly any time for rest and recuperation in the summer months and you sense Wilson would not have it any other way.
As an exercise, it’s probably more worthwhile stating which players remain under contract beyond June than who doesn’t.
Including young professionals, 16 players see their deals expire, while loanees Jack Hunt, Marcus Pedersen, Nick Proschwitz, Ryan McLaughlin and Peter Ramage return to their parent clubs.
Senior players such as Luke Steele, Dale Jennings, Chris O’Grady and Martin Cranie -–among their club’s higher earners – remain under contract.
But given that the club will be bound by the Salary Cap Management Protocol, which limits League One sides to spending 60 per cent of their turnover on wages from July 1, some are expected to be moved on – with relegation from the Championship effectively costing the club £6m.
All told, Barnsley’s playing squad won’t just undergo minor surgery this summer, but something like a drastic overhaul and if it means taking unpopular decisions for the greater good, Wilson won’t shy away from it.
The first part of Wilson’s brave new dawn will be revealed by the middle of next week when he announces his retained list and the odds are on it not being a considerably long one.
On the extent of the task ahead of him, Wilson, whose side pull down the curtain on a desperately disappointing 2013-14 campaign at home to QPR tomorrow – a season which culminated in relegation last weekend – said: “Yes, I would say it’s my biggest rebuilding job as a manager.
“The decisions I make will not always be easy decisions. There are going to be some popular ones and some unpopular ones. But the bottom line is we are doing it for the football club.
“I am sure some have a favourite. Some will have a favourite who might leave and some will see some leave who they don’t like and won’t bother about him.
“But personalities will not come into this. We have got to make sure we make some very big decisions strongly and confidently.
“I think if some people see some decisions as a surprise, they will have to look at the bigger picture.
“The Salary Cap protocol we have to adhere to is very tough at times. But we don’t have any choice in the matter.
“The board of directors will give us guidance in certain areas as well. It’s a massive overhaul, but we knew this was going to happen and would have to be addressed at some stage.
“Sometimes, you can start from afresh and we’ve got a clean piece of paper in front of us to some degree. Hopefully, from there, we can start to build.”
Barnsley supporters may not have long to wait to find out who Wilson wants to keep and build his side around in 2014-15, their first campaign in League One in nine seasons, but the Reds chief admits his list isn’t quite cut and dried yet.
Wilson has yet to decide the fate of all players and whether to offer some a deal or not and has revealed that the Reds’ seasonal finale at Oakwell could represent a final ‘audition’ for certain players.
Wilson will name one or two young players on the bench, with Ramage pencilled in to start as he says his farewells to Oakwell before returning to parent club Crystal Palace
He added: “There’s one or two issues to still be decided and the game this weekend might just provide us with an answer, one way or the other.
“There’s still a lot to play for one way or the other. While we also want to hopefully send the fans away on a high note against arguably the best squad in the division.”
Meanwhile, Wilson, only resident at Oakwell for half a season, insists he will take the blame for the club’s relegation, despite the Reds being entrenched in the drop zone prior to his arrival just before Christmas.
Those who know the Reds chief will realise it has never been his style to shirk challenges or not front up, with assuming personal responsibilty for failing to turn the tide something he feels he must take on the chin.
He added: “I was at the helm. It’s down to me, nobody else.
“People will turn around and say: ‘well, it’s not your fault.’ Yes, it is my fault, I am manager of a football club.
“Whether I was here when we were bottom of the league or before, it doesn’t matter.
“I am going to try and rectify it next year to give a bit of pride back to the football club.”