Barnsley CEO Khaled El-Ahmad on Poya Asbaghi future and whether recruitment is to blame for Reds position

BARNSLEY chief executive officer Khaled El-Ahmad says that the position of head coach Poya Asbaghi is 'under review' - with no decisions having yet been made regarding his future at the club.

Oakwell.
Oakwell.

The former Sweden under-21 head coach took over at Oakwell in November and despite the Reds' fortunes having incrementally improved - albeit from a low base - they remain in a fraught position and are strong favourites to occupy one of the three Championship relegation slots.

After passing up the chance on Saturday of cutting the gap between themselves and fourth-from-bottom Reading to just two points, the Reds now find themselves eight points behind the Berkshire club - with a game in hand - after the Royals' 2-1 win over Stoke City on Tuesday night.

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It means Barnsley - who visit Millwall this weekend - have a mountain to climb to stave off the drop.

On the position of Asbaghi, who has won four of his 21 games in charge, losing 11 and drawing six - Barnsley won just two of their first 18 league matches of the season prior to his arrival - El-Ahmad said: "Everyone is under review. No decisions have been made.

"I have been very transparent and have an open dialogue with the coaching staff from day one. Everyone knows we went through a tough spell where I think everyone wanted us to sack Poya. I was very transparent through that period. We continue to have a good dialogue.

"Both Poya, Ferran (Sibila) and the coaching staff have done an amazing job and work hard. I think the question is not just about what the club wants, but Poya wants. It is an ongoing dialogue and no-one has made the decision yet.

"Anything can happen and you must have that belief until that's gone (regarding staying up). I want to stay consistent with that belief and I (still) believe.

"There has been improvements since the January transfer window and we are still in games. Unfortunately, we have let in too many goals at the end of matches and in the last 10 minutes, we might have lost over 15 points.

"But I believe in the players we have and the margins are small."

Recruitment has been cited as a significant reason for the Reds demise and El-Ahmad admits that a dysfunctional close season has played a major part in a hugely difficult campaign.

He commented: "It is difficult to review something that you weren't necessarily part of, but from my perspective, there was no very influential staff and manager here or CEO and his staff, so it might be natural that there was no clear lines of communication of who to sign and how to sign.

"Markus Schopp came without his staff and I think there was not an alignment in what was necessarily needed and players were probably signed based on what was a good value and not specifically what the team needed to take the next step."

A January transfer window which saw players only arrive on the final day - giving the impression that the club were scrambling around for signings - has also been viewed as another reason, but El-Ahmad begs to differ.

He continued: "The January transfer window was not rushed. If you had asked me, James Cryne and the recruitment team, we had the process in place and knew who we wanted, it just took a longer time than we hoped for.

"We tried. We identified attacking positions and a defensive midfielder with leadership traits. It doesn't have to be experience but more the type of player and the leadership type. To be honest, that player turned us down on the same day as the window closed.

"But then we went through a process and there were players who we couldn't afford or didn't want to come and also felt comfortable in our own players. One of the positive things this Spring is Matty Wolfe's ability to play and this is also what the club is about."