Barnsley FC blow as Michael Duff approached to be next Swansea City manager
Duff led Barnsley to May’s League One play-off final, where they were only beaten by a diving header from Sheffield Wednesday's Josh Windass in stoppage time of extra time. This despite playing with only 10 men after Adam Phillips's 49th-minute red card for a loose tackle.
Even before the final Duff was being heavily linked with Championship Huddersfield Town, who instead persuaded Neil Warnock to return as manager.
Once the Reds missed promotion the danger was that a second-tier club would recognise the talents of ex-Northern Ireland and Burnley centre-back Duff. The Yorkshire Post understands Swansea have approached him to replace Russell Martin, whose move to Southampton has been trailed throughout the close season but is still unconfirmed.
Duff was League Two manager of the year in 2020-21 after leading Cheltenham Town to automatic promotion. He consolidated them in the division the following season.
He impressed just as much in his maiden campaign at Oakwell, where he inherited a club at a low ebb following relegation and revitalised them with his no-nonsense approach. He has done so with pragmatic football – easy on the eye at times but unafraid to deviate from the more purist football which has become Swansea's hallmark.
The Swans have a good history of developing managers, with Roberto Martinez, Brendan Rodgers – confirmed as Celtic manager on Monday, Graham Potter and Steve Cooper amongst those to manage in the Premier League after stints in Wales.
The news has unfortunate echoes of Valerien Ismael’s 2021 departure. He led Barnsley to the Championship play-offs that year, only to join West Bromwich Albion on June 24.
Barnsley's players are due back for pre-season on June 26. Their opening pre-season game is at Worksop Town on July 1.
Duff has remodelled the squad in his short time in South Yorkshire, and losing a manager of his calibre would be a blow at any point but particularly with the players due back in training so soon, Barnsley will be hoping Duff or Swansea decide against the move.