Valerien Ismael and Barnsley pause to reflect after promotion dream is ended

HEAD COACH Valerien Ismael plans to take some time out to reflect on his achievements at Barnsley in this campaign before thoughts turn to the future.

REFLECTION: Valerien Ismael issues instructions to his players at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

The Reds’ outstanding 2020-21 season – which saw them swap a relegation fight last term for a promotion quest – ended on Saturday evening after a 1-1 Championship semi-final second leg draw at Swansea City, with the Swans booking a Wembley date with Brentford after a 2-1 aggregate success.

Speculation is now likely to focus on the future of Ismael, whose sterling feats at Oakwell have seen him linked with other clubs including former side Crystal Palace and West Brom,

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Talismanic captain Alex Mowatt is also out of contract at the end of June, while the likes of Callum Styles, Mads Andersen and Michal Helik are also likely to draw interest from elsewhere.

SO CLOSE: Cauley Woodrow scores for Barnsley at the Liberty Stadium. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

Ismael, 45, who signed a three-year contract when he joined the club in October, 2020, said: “We have time to prepare and see what is going on in the future. But at the minute, we will reflect on the season and we will see.

“I gave everything and now it is time to reflect on this. I want to thank everyone at the club and the staff for their commitment.

“They were all dedicated, the players, the background people and our fans for their support on Monday. We can be proud.”

Trailing 1-0 from the first leg at Oakwell, Barnsley went behind, for a second successive game in the 39th minute after Swans captain Matt Grimes scored a virtuoso opener in South Wales.

The Reds improved and delivered a strong final half hour with Cauley Woodrow setting up an absorbing finale after drawing the visitors level after 71 minutes, but they could not grab another goal to force extra time.

Ismael added: “We fought until the end and for sure, we are disappointed. But we have time to reflect on how we reached this season with the squad with one of the lowest budgets in the league and the youngest team in the league.

“We kept alive and we can be proud of our performance and showed why we are in the play-offs and it was not a surprise. We deserved to be here.”

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