Barnsley are considering a reunion with former boss

Reports suggest Duff could return to Oakwell after departing for Swansea City last summer. Barnsley could make a surprising move for their former boss Michael Duff following their play-off disappointment despite the 46-year-old leaving the club just last summer. The reports over a potential reunion between Duff and Barnsley come courtesy of Alan Nixon via Patreon.Michael Duff

Nixon reports that the Tykes are considering a return for their former boss, who left them last summer to join Championship outfit Swansea City.

Of course, Duff’s time at Swansea did not go to plan, with the 46-year-old having been sacked by the Welsh club back in December.

Since then, Duff has been without a club, and Nixon claims that he is open to returning to Oakwell where he could once again work with assistant Martin Devaney.


The Yorkshire outfit suffered defeat in the League One playoffs for the second season running this week, losing to Bolton Wanderers by a dramatic 5-4 aggregate score.

This came despite impressing in the second leg at the Toughsheet Community Stadium, winning 3-2 on the night.

Unfortunately for Barnsley, however, the damage that would see them exit had been done in the first leg, with Bolton having ran out 3-1 winners at Oakwell.

Barnsley linked with Michael Duff reunion Barnsley’s struggles this season have been a follow on from the 2022/23 season, where The Tykes felt the heartbreak of a playoff final defeat to Sheffield Wednesday courtesy of a late Josh Windass strike.

They haven’t been able to find the right formula to bounce back to the Championship at the second time of asking, so they will spend the 2024/25 campaign once again scrambling for a promotion place.

The hiring of manager Neil Collins in July 2023 and the arrival of several talented players last summer, like John McAtee, seemed to align Barnsley with a strong path back to the second division. This wasn’t to be, however, as Collins was sacked in April 2024 following a string of disappointing defeats to Cambridge United, Charlton Athletic and Stevenage.

Following the firing, caretaker manager Martin Devaney is keeping the ship afloat until the club announces a permanent replacement for Collins.

A return to form in League One possible under Duff If Barnsley were to re-hire Duff, they could see a return to strong form in the third tier.

Tactically, Duff has always preferred a counter-attacking 3-5-2 formation as manager. In his first stint at Barnsley, he utilised a striker pairing in this formation that looked genuinely brilliant at times. It’s still a similar and familiar team for Duff to walk back into.

He gets his team to press high and hold their shape, with a clear winning mentality from his time with Cheltenham Town where he won the League Two title.

His lack of success with Swansea City may well have just been because it was a career move taken too early, when there is still so much he could do with a League One club like Barnsley. As such, bringing Duff back to Oakwell would be a good move for the club.

In the 2022/23 season, under Duff, they had near-identical stats to champions Plymouth Argyle, conceding the same number of goals and scoring just two fewer.

Despite being out of work since December 2023, Duff could walk back into Oakwell and set them up for a good season. The side tend to be one of the stronger outfits in League One, with their as-yet not achieved promotion likely being circumstantial of teams like Plymouth Argyle and Ipswich Town being leagues above the division in terms of quality.

What may be difficult for Duff next season is the arrival of Championship-relegated giants Birmingham City and Huddersfield Town, with the former potentially having the finances to try and bulldoze their way to an instant promotion.

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