Written by Ian Hope
5 things we learned from the Luton debacle
No striker, no hope
It is days like these that you wonder how the club sold striker Kieffer Moore when you see Cauley Woodrow pre game walking around with a heavily strapped calf and out of the squad. To break up a striker partnership that scored twenty plus goals last season is now being shown up as a shocking piece of business even if the club did get £4m for Moore. If that is indeed what they got from Wigan Athletic.
Tuesday nights poor showing at Birmingham highlighted that Thiam is currently way off form, maybe out of his depth in the Championship? Granted he got very little service but on today’s showing, regularly Thiam didn’t know whether to come short to receive a pass or go long to use his pace and take on the defenders. A target man, Thiam is not.
What Woodrow gives the reds is the ability to hold the ball up and bring in the other forwards and the likes of Mowatt and McGeehan when they burst from midfield. Woodrow also is a natural front man, playing Thiam up top feels like putting square pegs into round holes. To put wingers up top, like Wilks later in the second half, at home against a fellow promotion side speaks volumes. There was little penetration, little anything when Thiam is up top all alone.
11 individuals running around
Whilst the club claim this transfer window has been the clubs best ever, you cannot throw 12 new signings into the squad and expect them to hit the ground running. Way back in 1989 a certain Alex Ferguson signed 5 players in Paul Ince, Neil Webb, Danny Wallace, Mike Phelan and Gary Pallister. The great Scot instantly regretted having to blood all five of those signings stating he would never sign that many players in one go again. All because it took time for five first teamers to settle into the side. Results and performances suffered because of it and by November that year, banners were being unfurled wanting Fergie out. So think about blooding twice that many new players, young lads into a brave new tough league in the Championship, its suicidal.
For one game against Fulham in the sunshine, it all clicked and looked wonderful. Yet since, at Hillsborough, St Andrews and against Luton the transfer policy was laid bare for all to see.
I saw 11 individuals running around coming up against another promoted side in Luton who looked well drilled in what they were doing. Luton had kept together the nucleus of the side that won them the League One title. Everyone knew their job, the midfielders knew what Collins and Lua Lua would do, where they would run and when. The defence stood firm and to a man they looked physically stronger and tactically well drilled.
No player in red was on the same wavelength. Even Mowatt and McGeehan who were the engine in last seasons side looked like they have not played together before.
The game passed the likes of Luke Thomas and Thiam by. I struggled to remember captain Bahre making a successful pass. Everything he touched turned sour, the game passed him by. Lightweight in the tackle, his passing was well off and how he is wearing the captains armband is a mystery. One of the least vocal players happens to wear the armband, really? Surely the likes of Mowatt who will shout and show some authority is more worthy of wearing the armband?
Having touched on this subject, it needs further scrutinising. Maybe I am old school and when I think of a captain I think of Bryan Robson, Steve McMahon, Graeme Souness, Terry Butcher, I could go on. I accept the game has moved on from the 1980`s and moustaches and short shorts but has it really changed that much that a football team no longer needs a captain?
A captain should be a leader, a man who drags the side through thick and thin. A shouter, a person who puts an arm around someone. Either way, your captain should stand up and be head and shoulders above the others especially in times of need. Sadly Bahre is not captain material. Quite frankly his performances do not justify a place in the starting eleven never mind as captain. Whilst there are bigger issues with the current side, I do think the captaincy needs sorting.
Luton fully deserved their win
For all the moaning and groaning about the reds performance, praise should go to Luton Town. To a man they were more motivated, better drilled and executed their plan to a tee.
Having so many ex Barnsley players in their squad no doubt assisted with ex players all having a point to prove. Yet in Jacob Butterfield, Ryan Tunnicliffe and James Bree Luton have three very good players. Butterfield went about his work with quiet efficiency and calmly slotted away his goal.
Add last seasons prolific scorer James Collins and the pace of Lualua and Luton boast a side full of experience, potential and consistency everything Barnsley need at the moment.
Luton flew out of the traps and had the game won inside 5 minutes. From then on they always held the upper hand and could sit and defend their three goal lead. Luton fully deserved their win whatever the postmortem from a Barnsley point of view.
Second half revival of sorts
When trying to pull out positives from today’s performance albeit far too few, moving Sibbick to central defence and bringing Ben Williams into left back made the defence look much more settled.
In the long term, personally I like the combination of Andersen and Diaby in the heart of defence and although some have not taken to young Williams at full back, I believe he has a decent future ahead of him. Williams was the only player who played like it meant something today, like it hurt. He threw himself into everything and has a decent left foot cross on him also. Sibbick looked more assured centrally too.
Having watched Sibbick this season at full back, he looks lost and out of his depth. Against anyone with a remote bit of pace and he is beaten. Time and again at Hillsborough Diaby had to come across and help him and the same happened again in the first half today. Yet when he went centrally he looked more assured, granted Luton did not offer as much of a threat in the second half sitting on their three goal lead. I had the fortune to meet Sibbick after the game and one thing that hit me was how young he is. Yes I am in my mid 40s but Sibbick looks a babe and this is the one thing that worries me about this squad. It is full of young lads who all want to do well in red but the longer this poor run continues, what damage is it doing to them? That is where a bit of experience in the side is badly needed.
Whilst I am normally a half full glass kind of person, you cannot paper over the cracks from today. A side that has suddenly looked impotent, rudderless and leaking goals needs to roll up the sleeves and get a result from somewhere.
No opposition side has blown me away in this division. Fulham were well beaten on the day, Sheffield Wednesday were average, Birmingham were poor yet Barnsley have struggled in all but a couple of games this season. With games against Leeds at home, Preston and Nottingham Forest away coming up, what does the future hold for these young reds?
These young lads need to grow up and quick. The manager stated in his programme notes that the team are constantly working on what they believe is the way to play and what brought them success last season, but it has yet to be seen on the pitch on match day. Hopefully, this side will turn a corner and soon.
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