Written by Ian Hope @halftimepiesite
Barnsley had enough chances at the city ground on Saturday to win 3 football matches never mind this one away to Nottingham Forest. Yet had the reds still been playing now, they wouldn’t have scored such is their current luck/plight in front of goal at the minute. No goals away from home all season, no goals in the last 3 games yet performances at Wigan, Forest and home to Leeds have improved. You can see the headlines in May already. Daniel Stendel`s side had a right good go in the Championship but ultimately weren’t good enough. Played nice football, pressed and had a go at teams but ultimately were relegated. Those headlines will be printed if the club fail to dip into the January transfer window and recruit some experienced older and wiser players to help this young side.
Looking at the forest side you see Ben Watson and Michael Dawson out there, players with huge experience in the Premier league and championship still capable of playing at this level. Add goalkeeper Pantilimon (who was out) on the team sheet and that’s just 3 older and experienced heads in a side. Barnsley need to be copying that blueprint to survive in this league.
Come the end of January, everyone will be in no doubt where the boards plans lie. Will they speculate to accumulate and bring in some experience or refuse to break their financial structure? We shall see.
At the City Ground, the reds gave everything again. On the final whistle the team slumped to the ground and sat exhausted and dismayed how they didn’t get a point out of the game. Forest fans afterwards spoke to me and agreed we deserved so much more but its cold comfort when you see Wigan beat Charlton and you sit 3rd from bottom in the league.
On the pitch, time and again the final ball was lacking. Numerous crosses didn’t hit their intended target, players opted to shoot instead of squaring to an unmarked team mate. You can sense the tension on the pitch and in the stands as the goal drought continues. Players almost try too hard, instead of doing what’s natural. Everything was forced in the box. Granted forest defenders threw themselves in the way of shots and the keeper made plenty of saves but it is so noticeable how the reds are struggling to hit the back of the net.
At the moment the squad is young and naive at this level. Too honest, lacking better game management and crying out for a steady wise old head around them to settle things down.
It is a huge dilemma. Fans like to see their team play attractive football and not be boring. Yet they also want victories. Very few are lucky enough to see both at the same time. Sam Allardyce got pelters for his sides style of play yet he did his job keeping teams in the Premier league. No one ever wanted him near their club yet he produced results.
Stendel has his team playing good football, but the harsh reality of this level is biting and Barnsley have only won once this season. What the reds are lacking is that know how in nicking 1-0 wins or going away from home and being tough to beat. That brings us back to that experience issue again.
Stendel, his players and the board need to work on being more cute in the Championship at picking up points. Otherwise, those plucky but unlucky Barnsley headlines will be printed in May.