Barnsley boss Heckingbottom could follow McCarthy's template

Barnsley manager Paul Heckingbottom.Barnsley manager Paul Heckingbottom.
Barnsley manager Paul Heckingbottom.
IF anyone can empathise with the deep-seated concerns of Barnsley supporters, it is manager Paul Heckingbottom.

The regular chant from the Pontefract Road end since his appointment – initially as caretaker head coach in February, 2016 – has been consistent, heartfelt and stirring: ‘He’s one of our own, Paul Heckingbottom, he’s one of our own.’

These are undoubtedly difficult and challenging times at Oakwell, more especially for a young manager whose work is not a mere vocation, but has an emotional attachment.

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But when there is trouble and frustration, the best families stick together and find a solution, which the 40-year-old is determined to do – despite a problematic 2017.

Not for the first time this year, Heckingbottom’s pre-match preparations have been dominated by talk of a looming exit of a leading player – in this case Andy Yiadom.

Given the earlier key exits of Marc Roberts, Josh Scowen, Marley Watkins, Conor Hourihane and Sam Winnall, Heckingbottom would be forgiven for feeling a debilitating sense of deja vu.

A growing sense of weariness at Barnsley’s squad deficiencies and distinct lack of proven Championship quality would also be pretty understandable.

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Particularly during a frenetic August when preparing for games is hard enough, let alone with having effectively to build a new first team and squad.

But for Heckingbottom, it is very much a case of what does not kill you, makes you stronger, with the Reds’ chief resolute in his quest to get several impending deals over the line.

The club remaining close to finalising up to four new additions, with young Leicester striker Harvey Barnes and Swansea forward Oli McBurnie being two players on the radar.

On supporters’ anxiety, Heckingbottom said: “They will be and that is right – it is their team and it is the same for me.

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“I want the best possible side on the pitch and competition for places and different options.

“We are nowhere near what the squad is going to be. We might have our finished squad on the 30th of August when we have already played seven games. That is the frustrating thing about it.

“It will happen, but it will be just a case of when it happens. I am not going to get angry and upset about it. What can I do?

“I have learned from last season with what has to be done and I will push and push as much as I can in every single way and fight with who I have to fight with to get the players in and on the pitch. That is not a problem.

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“But I also can’t do that at the expense of every player in the building and they are my (current) focus.”

Heckingbottom has already coped with plenty during his short time in management and will have learned quickly that longevity revolves around making the best out of what you have got – certainly at Football League level.

This weekend, Heckingbottom will pit his wits against someone who has proved a past-master of that over many years in Mick McCarthy – a fellow Barnsley man who he and countless other emerging managers could do worse than look up to.

Like Heckingbottom, the Ipswich manager is not exactly blessed with the financial resources of many of his managerial contemporaries in the Championship.

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But a combination of shrewd work on the training ground and smart dealings in the transfer market has ensured that McCarthy’s side have not lost any of their competitiveness – and there are worse templates to follow.

With an obvious affection and affiliation to his home-town club and vast experience in the pitfalls of management, expect McCarthy to impart his wisdom to Heckingbottom at some point on Saturday when Ipswich arrive at Oakwell – if it is sought.

Not that too many favours will be offered on the pitch.

Heckingbottom said: “Mick might be honest and straight-talking, which is refreshing in my eyes. However, you do not know what that means on the pitch.

“Mick is brilliant at getting the best out of whatever player that he has got – at whatever level he has been at.

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“That means you don’t know what you are going to get. You know they are going to be organised and be expected to work hard, which I would have thought any team is trying to do – but you can’t often get that.

“You don’t know what system that they are going to use and personnel he is going to pick.

“But I can honestly say all the older managers have been really, really good with me – before and after the game and during it with the conversations. That has been really evident for me that there is a good bond there.

“I don’t know if everyone is the same. There are probably other managers who are going to try everything to beat you on the pitch – and before the game and everything.

“But there is a respect for the job and everyone knows it is a difficult job and it is done and dusted when the (final) whistle goes.”