IT is hard to comprehend that just over five months ago, Daniel Stendel was being tossed up in the air by his delirious Barnsley players during a Champagne-fuelled end-of-season love-in at Bristol Rovers.
Those Reds supporters who travelled from South Yorkshire down to the West Country for a League One promotion party – and those who watched the beamback at Oakwell – sung heartily about how ‘Stendel is Our King’.
Just 157 days later, the German was unceremoniously dethroned.
The Yorkshire Post understands that Stendel’s position was discussed by board members on Monday with a video conference taking place with representatives in the USA.
A brief two-line club statement on Tuesday morning read: “Barnsley Football Club confirms that it has separated from Daniel Stendel with immediate effect. Adam Murray has been appointed caretaker manager.”
A passionate guy who wears his heart of his sleeve and struggles to conceal his emotions, Stendel’s demeanour when the Reds convened for the start of pre-season at the end of June was worrying.Leon Wobschall
It is understood that Stendel has been left disappointed at the decision.
Stendel’s assistants, Dale Tonge and Christopher Stern, remain at the club, with Under-18 coach Murray, 28, who dipped his toes in management with Mansfield Town and Boston United, promoted to oversee the first-team.
Sadly, once the understandable celebrations following a dream first season in English football in 2019-20 for Herr Stendel died down, tensions began to come to the fore with the club’s hierarchy regarding recruitment.
A passionate guy who wears his heart on his sleeve and struggles to conceal his emotions, Stendel’s demeanour when the Reds convened for the start of pre-season at the end of June was worrying.
It was not the sort usually associated with someone who had recently won promotion.
At a press gathering, Stendel – fully aware of Barnsley’s model of signing young players and giving them the stage to develop before later being sold for profit – voiced a significant concern.
Those concerns are extremely prescient, more especially given his exit from the club, lying in 23rd place in the Championship.
Last summer, despite only being in England for a year, Stendel knew enough about the Championship to accept it is one of the toughest divisions in the world.
One where running with an inexperienced side is fraught with risk and even folly.
In the week that saw Adam Davies and Liam Lindsay leave, Stendel nailed it, with the exit of Ethan Pinnock likely to have deepened his sense of disquiet.
Stendel prophetically said: “The club have a philosophy to sign young players that can improve and have potential, but I think we also need some players with experience for the Championship, which is a tough league.”
His words were not heeded.
In the final analysis, the clock started to tick in terms of Stendel’s departure from that very point. The seeds had been sown.
Emotional maybe, but Stendel is also a realist.
He smelled the Championship coffee.
Barnsley’s on-pitch labours will have frustrated him but, ultimately, not surprised him. This is what he feared – and perhaps inwardly knew – would happen at the end of June.
It also explains why Stendel was reluctant to commit his longer-term future to the club and rejected their overtures to sign a new deal.
He plainly did not feel comfortable and saw vicissitudes on the horizon.
Over time, the question of bringing in experience became the ‘elephant in the room’ at virtually every press conference this season. Stendel was understandably worn down by talk of it, but everything seemed to come back to it.
His comment about his side playing like ‘a youth team’ in his final match in charge in the 5-1 loss at Preston saw his patience snap.
Unfortunately, the situation is nothing new at Barnsley.
Stendel’s summer comments resembled those of one of his predecessors in Paul Heckingbottom during his time at the club and were similarly telling.
Heckingbottom referenced the club’s need to be pragmatic and bring in some hardened Championship experience at regular junctures – while revealing his exasperation at the Reds hierarchy in not doing so.
Just as Heckingbottom banged his head against the equivalent of a brick wall, so did Stendel.
So Barnsley must start again as they begin a familiar journey – a search for their ninth permanent head coach/manager in the past decade.
A statistic which tells its own story.