LEE JOHNSON is confident he can buck the trend of short-lived managerial appointments at Barnsley.
The 33-year-old, currently the third-youngest Football League manager, was unveiled as the Reds’ new boss yesterday afternoon, signing a three-and-a-half year deal until June 30, 2018.
In the process, the former Oldham Athletic chief has become the Oakwell club’s sixth managerial appointment in under six years – and 13th since the start of the Millennium.
Johnson left Oldham after an undisclosed compensation package was agreed between both clubs, with the former Yeovil Town and Bristol City midfielder joined at Oakwell by ex-Leeds United winger Tommy Wright, his assistant at Boundary Park.
Johnson admits that the lure of heading over the Pennines to Barnsley proved irresistible, with the recent Championship history of the Reds, stature of the club and financial wherewithal in comparison to the Latics all persuasive factors in his decision to make the move.
Despite the revolving door of managers at Oakwell, Johnson – after doing his ‘due diligence’ and holding two lengthy meetings with club officials and owner Patrick Cryne – sees no reason why he cannot provide some much-needed managerial longevity at the club.
Johnson, son of former Bristol City, Yeovil and Cambridge United manager Gary, said: ”It’s a fantastic opportunity at a really big club for the division with a rich history.
“I am excited by what I feel we can achieve together as a club.
“It is a fantastic size from where I have been at Oldham in terms of bigger crowds and a bigger playing budget and history consistently in the Championship for a long time and that is really a minimum of where we should be.”
On whether he is concerned by the plethora of different managers at Oakwell in recent times, Johnson added: “Yes, naturally of course. But any individual does their due diligence on everybody.
“The detail I go into involves everybody because I had to as it was a massive decision for me.
“Weighing up everything, I was still very, very keen. When you get that buzz to achieve something, you believe you are going to be the one to break the mould.
“That is the aim and I will die trying.”
Regaining what Johnson believes is Barnsley’s rightful place in the second tier may represent the tallest of orders this season, but the new Reds supremo – whose official title is head coach but with responsibility for all footballing matters – is not writing off their prospects yet.
Barnsley may lie in a modest 16th place in the table, but Tuesday’s hard-fought win at Scunthorpe moved them to within four points of sixth-placed Bradford City and Johnson feels that clinching the last play-off position is something his side can still successfully strive for.
Johnson, in top-six contention for much of 2014-15 with Oldham, despite having far less cash resources than his new club, said: “I don’t think it’s unrealistic, for sure. Someone will go on a run and why should it not be us?
“It is important that the players know there is still a chance. Every year in every division, someone comes out of the pack and has a fantastic run towards the end of the season and puts themselves in that last spot in the play-offs.
“We will need a bit of luck as you will probably need nine or 10 wins from the remaining games. But why not? Although of course, there’s a bigger picture of progressing every year and improving the quality of our squad in our recruitment.”
Despite professing his delight at making the move to Barnsley, Johnson admits it was not an easy decision to leave Oldham, who handed him his craved-for chance in management at the age of just 31 back in March 2013.
Johnson will make an early return to Boundary Park with the Reds on March 14 and says his time with the club will forever be special.
Johnson, praised the ‘brilliant’ job done by caretaker-manager Mark Burton who has held the fort following the axing of Danny Wilson on February 12, and added: “I have to be honest, it’s not been easy. I had two fantastic years at Oldham and I was very, very fond of everybody from the fans to the board and players.
“When you put everything in to your work, with the effort it took to progress it like we did, of course you have emotions in that.
“However, the lure was too big and I am excited by the owners’ passion and ideals for the club and I bought into that.
“I had a decision to make and felt that it was the right one for my career.
“When an owner of a football club goes to such lengths to want you, it gives you a good feeling and you really feel wanted.
“To sit there and see the passion of the owner and see where he wants to take the club and speaking to the board of directors and everyone involved, I want to be a part of it and make sure I am the one who delivers that.”