Barnsley FC chief executive Dane Murphy on what makes Valerien Ismael special

WHEN ASKED to pinpoint what has been the secret of Valerien Ismael's success at Barnsley so far, Dane Murphy deliberates for a few seconds and then finds the answer.

Barnsley head coach Valerien Ismael, pictured with Reds captain Alex Mowatt.

It is chiefly down to his mentality and above all else, self-belief.

Ahead of last Saturday's Championship home game with Sheffield Wednesday, Ismael's thirty league games in charge had yielded sixty points at an average of two points per match.

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It is not just promotion form, but title form and has marked him out from the crowd somewhat.

Murphy told The Yorkshire Post: "There are several variables as to why he has been as successful as he has.

"He has been at big clubs (LASK Linz) and taken a club to the top of the Austrian Bundesliga and final 16 of the Europa League and done great things in his career and had an incredible playing career.

"But more than anything it is his self-belief. This is a self-assurance and security with who he is and what he is trying to do which allows him to be successful. Maybe more than him being at big clubs and being a good player and a good coach prior to arriving at Barnsley.

"It is who he is as a person and what he is able to accomplish given the security he has within himself."

It is a significant understatement to suggest that Ismael has surpassed expectations since arriving at Barnsley. He has positively smashed them.

Consolidation in the second tier after last season's relegation near-miss was the primary aim. Now the Reds find themselves in fifth place in the table and in the promotion mix heading into the final month or so of the season.

Murphy remarked: "I don’t think it is surprising to people that know and are around Valerien day in, day out because he exudes such clarity and confidence in what he is trying to achieve.

"Sometimes, in the management game, you have a lot of false bravado and ego that goes into it. With Valerien, there is a job to be accomplished and done and it is a case of ‘here how I think it can be accomplished and I will have the people around me who will buy in and feel this is the way it needs to be done.’

"We had a difficult month in January against some difficult opponents, home and away, for instance.

"But in every one of those games, we felt like we should have come away with more. That is because Valerien and the leaders of the team have built a culture where they expect to show up and not only compete, but win every game.

"That is something that Valerien has built since the first day he arrived. It has been amazing to watch and the guy has such strong will of character and the ability to get people to buy in and it is inspiring to be around, honestly."