BARNSLEY chief executive Gauthier Ganaye has confirmed that the sporting acumen of ‘Moneyball’ guru and Reds investor Billy Beane will be tapped into during the recruitment process to find a new head coach.
The relegation-threatened Reds start off life without Paul Heckingbottom this lunch-time in a key home derby with Sheffield Wednesday ahead of finalising a shortlist and interviewing candidates next week for the vacant position; Paul Harsley is in temporary charge for today’s game.
Highly-acclaimed baseball pioneer and Oakland Athletics minority owner Beane, famously portrayed by American actor Brad Pitt in the hit movie Moneyball, is part of the consortium that purchased a majority 80 per cent shareholding in the club in December and will be involved in the process to find a new head coach.
While being synonymous with success in baseball, Beane has had involvement in MLS franchise San Jose Earthquakes through ex-Oakland A’s owner Lewis Wolff and has worked as an adviser to Dutch Eredivisie outfit AZ Alkmaar, while appearing at a number of events focusing on the application of statistics to football.
The Oakwell faithful are currently concerned with their own numbers game, principally the club’s current lowly standing in the Championship, with the importance of finding the right man to succeed Heckingbottom being a key decision.
Ganaye will lead the process of finding Heckingbottom’s replacement, but input from the Reds’ hierarchy, alongside investor Beane, will be utilised with the club having been inundated with applicants from home and abroad following the club’s recent majority purchase by Chinese-American billionaire Chien Lee and US entrepreneur Paul Conway.
Ganaye told The Yorkshire Post: “Obviously, I am responsible to lead this process.
“But the more people we have around the table (recruitment process), the better.
“We have Billy Beane’s experience in the sports industry and he will have an involvement. Obviously, the owners and James (Cryne, director) will be involved.
“It is teamwork and there is work and I am happy to share the work.
“We all have a lot of contacts and that is why the list of candidates is quite long at the moment. Our job is too shorten it to maybe five or ten credible candidates and interview them.
“Barnsley is very, very attractive and the number of applications that we have received shows that. The project is very exciting or we would not be receiving the applications we are.
“Everyone is interested to hear about the job as the club has a particular model in how it is now owned by international people and has the link with a club in France (Nice) and is part of a bigger project.”
A turbulent week in the recent history of Barnsley will end this afternoon at home to near-neighbours Wednesday and, given the events of the past week, the fact that the Reds are doing battle with the side who their supporters love to beat more than any other has slipped under the radar somewhat for many of them who are still coming to terms with the shock departure of ‘one of their own’ in Heckingbottom to Leeds United.
For Ganaye, the news was a deeply disappointing blow, but, equally, he is determined that the club put on a united front and close ranks.
The tonic of victory today at the end of a fraught week would be gratefully received by everyone connected with the club.
On Heckingbottom’s departure, Ganaye acknowledged: “It was very unexpected, but in this industry you have to expect the unexpected. Now he has decided to go and we have to respect his decision.
“It is not the end of the world. The club is not based on only one person. It was unexpected, but it is an opportunity to bring someone in with other ideas and experiences.
“Some people might think it is disastrous for the club, but there is an opportunity in everything. We will see what happens, but maybe what we are missing in the management of the players to turn them in the right direction will create shock in them. It is an opportunity to bring someone else in and work on our project.
“We will be looking for the right person to take on a big challenge to keep us in this league and work with us on an exciting project. Because someone is leaving it does not make it not exciting anymore.
“I am personally excited to be looking for the right person for the job as the head coach is an important part of the club and the face of the club on the pitch.
“We need the right person and everybody on the board is very excited.”
The man assigned with leading the first team today is Harsley, who has been promoted from within to lead the side on a temporary basis just as Heckingbottom was around two years ago.
Ganaye has revealed that the Under-23 senior development coach will be considered as a potential candidate for the full-time position if he decides to put himself forward.
Ganaye added: “Straightaway I told him we wanted him to take on the caretaker role and do his best.
“Everyone at the club is behind him and helping him and want him to succeed.
“Anything he needs we will be there to help and I told him that we are more than happy to consider his application if he wants. But Paul is a very humble guy and just wants to start with Saturday.
“But if he wants to put his application in we will consider it and we will interview him like anybody else.
“We want fans to get behind Paul and the team as this team is capable of doing better than they have done.
“It is an important game for the fans, town and club and team of young men who want to prove their point.
“It is a big month for us. It is also an opportunity for some players who have not been used as much as they could have been with Paul and it is up to them to show they are good enough. Who knows?”