Barnsley exclusive Pt 1: Long-term vision can stabilise Reds – Gauthier Ganaye

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BARNSLEY chief executive Gauthier Ganaye may not have been working in his current position last January, but he is promising one thing.

Namely, that the club will never again make the sort of contractual mistakes which ensured that the last winter window was an unmitigated disaster.

Sometimes, appearances can be deceptive. This time last year, the Reds were on the fringes of the Championship play-off places and not just above the relegation zone as they are now.

But behind-the-scenes, the story painted a different picture. Twelve months ago, Barnsley resembled an unholy mess off the pitch, with top-scorer Sam Winnall gone, talismanic captain Conor Hourihane about to leave and rival clubs circling around several other key players entering the final six months of their deals.

If that was not enough to contend with, Ganaye’s predecessor Linton Brown abruptly left.

A year on and Barnsley may not be in quite such a strong position in the Championship table, but they are far more stable off it.

Barnsley FC chief exec Gauthier Ganaye. (Picture: Scott Merrylees)

Barnsley FC chief exec Gauthier Ganaye. (Picture: Scott Merrylees)

Virtually all of their leading lights are under contract for the next 18 months, with contingencies made for the future and a takeover sealed. Hope abounds.

Ganaye told The Yorkshire Post: “Last January was something, but this window is very different.

“What people don’t understand is when you analyse the last January transfer window – I don’t think the mistake was done in January. It had been done six or 12 months before by not offering new deals to players at the right time. When you arrive in January with a player with six months left, what do you want to do?

“When I arrived (in June), we needed to build a new squad. It was not an easy task, but I think what we have done with recruitment in the summer shows that we knew what we were doing.

We are mainly looking for offensive players. Wide players are the most important for us; probably two. Then a striker, if we can add one.

Gauthier Ganaye

“Lots of people thought ‘who is Ethan Pinnock’ and ‘who is Liam Lindsay’ and that we are the new Rotherham and stuff like that.

“It was not easy, but a few months later, people can see that Ethan, Liam, Brad Potts and pretty much all of the signings have turned out to be good ones. They are different players now. After twenty games in the Championship, they are not the same anymore.

“It was a big challenge because there were a lot of deals to cross over the line and I also think we have been good in offering long deals to players, which was not the case before.

“When you are shopping in the lower leagues and offering a two-year deal, it is basically gambling big and taking a big risk. Now, we are still gambling, but if we win, we are going to win big.

New Barnsley FC signing Kieffer Moore. (Picture: Scott Merrylees)

New Barnsley FC signing Kieffer Moore. (Picture: Scott Merrylees)

“If we had signed two-year-deals with Liam and Ethan, imagine the situation at the end of this season. That is a big change and we are (now) negotiating contracts at a good time.”

The change is such that the focus now is on incoming deals as opposed to outgoing ones. After the £750,000 signing of Kieffer Moore, the Reds are targeting further attacking acquisitions, even if it is not straightforward.

Ganaye added: “We are mainly looking for offensive players. Wide players are the most important for us; probably two. Then a striker, if we can add one.

“It is something we are working on. The January transfer window, especially, is not an easy one and the FA Cup is definitely not helping at all. This window is mostly for loans and if you are loaning from a big club, you are waiting for the FA Cup to be over.

“If you put yourselves in the shoes of other clubs, they want to try young players in the cup to have a proper look and then decide. It is slowing the process a bit.

“But I am confident we will keep everybody we want to. If you receive an offer, you have a look at it, but we are in a good position with lengths of contracts.

“That is something very important here as we are trying to build. What we started in the summer is actually building a team. For this season of course, but also the next and probably the one after. ”

With more foresight being shown regarding contract lengths and renegotiations, Ganaye is also conscious of the need to improve the club’s recruitment process to ensure that targets are identified and targeted quicker and more effectively in the future – a concern expressed several times by head coach Paul Heckingbottom.

Ganaye said: “Paul has been talking about a lack of a head of recruitment. I don’t know if it is a head of recruitment we need, but we do need someone to co-ordinate things a little bit better.

“Everybody is on the same line and all agree that we need to have a better process after this transfer window. Of course, it wasn’t easy because last summer we were straight in and building a brand new team. Then, there was the takeover, so it is not the best time to re-organise that.

“If we want to really extend our model to the continent and lots of different countries and not analyse 50 players, but 500 players, we definitely need to improve our structure. Everybody agrees with that.”