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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Robins' Reds Test

Full time manager, part time firefighter, Mark Robins has endured a testing start to management during his tenure at Rotherham United.

Now the newly appointed Barnsley boss must lift his new club off the foot of the Championship.

Whilst the 39-year-old's move across South Yorkshire is a short one, it represents a significant step-up for the former Manchester United striker.

It's probably a good job he's used to managing in a crisis.

He took over at Rotherham when the Millers were facing relegation to League Two. And, despite not being able to prevent them dropping down, he had the club competing for an instant return.

Then came along the financial problems which have dogged the club, docked 10 points for entering administration, their promotion hopes were killed off. The following summer, the club were forced to move from their Millmoor home and take residence at Sheffield's Don Valley athletics stadium.

Furthermore, the Football League ordered them to start the 2008/9 season on -17 points due to their financial situation. A highly credible 14th place finish, where they accrued enough points for a play-off place, was testament to Robins' ability.

Now, with Rotherham sitting top of the League Two table, Robins must help turn around fortunes at Oakwell. Out of the frying pan, indeed.

It's been a poor start to the season for the Reds. Just one point from their first five games did for previous manager Simon Davey. An FA Cup semi final and Championship safety not enough to save the Welshman from the chop.

Robins, who takes his new side to Watford this weekend, inherits a team that have lost all three of their home matches and a defence that has already leaked 11 goals.

Robins has made the move from Rotherham to Barnsley

However, the quality exists in the squad for the situation to be reversed. Robins must coax more consistency and end product from wingers Adam Hammill and Jamal Campbell-Ryce.

He must also look to offer keeper Luke Steele more protection at the back, and help Iain Hume to re-discover his touch in front of goal, hopefully forming a threatening partnership with target-man Andy Gray.

The last time Barnsley turned to a basement division manager to take over the reins, Steve Parkin in 2001, the club ended the season being relegated to League One. Robins must ensure the same doesn't happen.

For a man used to dealing with them, that really would be a crisis.


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