It has been a troubling 2017/18 season for Barnsley and their supporters. The Tykes, one of the primary contenders for relegation back in August, have struggled to inspire confidence for most of the campaign and a drop into League One is now a distinct possibility. Barnsley need Tom Bradshaw, their joint-top goal scorer this season, to step up when it matters most of all; and he can be the main man at Oakwell for years to come.

Although his form has tailed off since joining Barnsley from Walsall in July 2016, Bradshaw is capable of producing a moment of magic on the big stage. His goal scoring record since the start of 2018 isn’t exactly great but it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Bradshaw notch the decisive goal that secures Barnsley’s Championship status. He has the 'big game' pedigree and will be desperate to gain respect from fans after a difficult spell.

With three wins in their previous 14 Championship games, Barnsley have shown glimpses of quality in recent months but that might not be enough to avoid the drop. Keeping Bradshaw on the books will become a top priority for Jose Morais (or his successor) this summer – the Tykes will need players to commit their long-term futures to the club and Bradshaw, linked with a move to Reading, could stay at Oakwell if they avoid relegation.

Despite that record, you could argue that Barnsley have not made significant improvement during Morais’ tenure. The Tykes were languishing in the relegation zone when he took over at the helm and they’ve gained just one place since February 16th. Whatever happens this weekend, fans will have reservations over whether Morais should be allowed to see out the remainder of his 18-month contract.

Bradshaw’s drop-off in form will be of some concern to the Oakwell faithful; the Welshman has scored just once in his last 23 Barnsley appearances but did represent his nation in their two China Cup fixtures in March. The Tykes are 4/5 in the latest football betting odds to drop out of the second tier but a return to form for Bradshaw could make all the difference. That 2-0 victory over Brentford in their last Championship outing has given Barnsley a chance.

It's the 2016/17 season. Barnsley FC currently sit 7th in the Championship with the club looking towards the Premier League. Barnsley born and bred Patrick Cryne was desperately assuring fans that our key players won’t be sold. Hourihane signs for Villa, Winnall signs for SWFC and James Bree also signs for the Villains, leaving the Reds with a core of Barnsley men at the helm, Owner Cryne, Boss Paul Heckingbottom and Captain Marc Roberts.

Fast forward six months and it’s the summer, ‘Robbo’ signs for Birmingham City, despite further assurances to fans that our key players won’t be sold. The Reds’ squad is down to it’s bare bones, relying on the ‘spreadsheet’ formula to build a squad for the Championship. Ironically, in the league where we belong, statistically speaking.

Let’s talk about the spreadsheet, the transfer strategy inspired by Billy Beane's 'Moneyball' vision.

In the case of the Reds, the player in question must have value. Let’s take Brad Potts for example; the player must A) represent good value for money considering our financial situation during the Cryne led era, in other words the player must not cost too much. B) the player in question must have resale value, we sign a player for £250,000 and then sell them for £1,000,000.

There are many flaws though however with the second part of this. To make a team that is good enough to challenge, you have to have a certain level of consistency. If you are only signing players simply to sell them on later, then categorically you have no chance of ever gaining consistency and ongoing improvement.

You can say whatever you want about the spreadsheet; you cannot argue that statistically speaking each of our signings have looked excellent on paper, but are there any other critical judgements being made that will support an individual signing's transition and evolution to actually improving the team?


Any good side has characters within it. A clear number of leaders within a dressing room. With a team that has been built off of a spreadsheet, what do you see? What do I see? No leaders. Four captains in a single year. What does that tell you about the spreadsheet formula in terms of leaders?

You can teach a man Maths, History, Biology, but you can’t teach him personality, strength to be who they are and to be a leader. You look at all the great sides over the years in this league, the Wolves team this year they have; Conor Coady, Willy Boly and Ruben Névés, and that’s just one team as an example.

Another thing that spreadsheet doesn’t cover is what type of player are they? Strong, weak, a flair player? A team player, a selfish one at that.

The 'Moneyball' strategy focusses on individual statistics. But where is the vision and identity beyond this? What are the missing factors that will make Barnsley FC a better football team?
It’s fair to say that this has been an eventful season for Barnsley fans, but not in the way that we would have hoped. The takeover in December offered promise, but the protracted process hung over the first half of the campaign, and the departure of Paul Heckingbottom and his entire team led to further destabilisation. A return of four points from four games under new boss José Morais isn’t a bad start, but the Tykes continue to flirt with the relegation zone and it’s all a far cry from last season’s successful campaign.

What has gone wrong this season? To an extent, the poorer performance this time around isn’t a surprise. Difficult second-season syndrome can affect teams at a higher level as their rivals adjust to their style of play. This can be particularly tricky for less financially powerful clubs such as Barnsley to counter as they don’t have the option of bringing in a number of better players to enable them to continue to improve.

An inability to turn good performances into victories, particularly at home, has also been a problem. The Tykes have drawn seven games at Oakwell and have earned creditable points against the likes of Wolves and Preston, but had they managed to turn one or two of those stalemates into victories, they’d be in a much more comfortable position.

Can they survive? As we know, every season throws up a team that discovers its form in the closing weeks and pulls clear of relegation, and Barnsley fans checking out online betting odds at Stakers will be hoping that this time around their club is the one that pulls off a spectacular escape act. Certainly, another spell in League One is not what anyone wants, not least the club’s new owners, who have grand ambitions.

There are a number of factors in Barnsley’s favour. The first is that, unlike most of their relegation rivals, the mood at the club remains fairly positive. It wasn’t so long ago, after all, that we were in the third tier, and psychologically the Tykes are in a stronger position than the likes of Sunderland, Burton and Birmingham to take part in a relegation scrap.

Barnsley also have a relatively easy run-in. Apart from the game against Derby and possibly the tie with Bristol City, most of the remaining fixtures are against middle-of-the-table sides that will probably not have much to play for, including the crunch fixture against Leeds at the end of April, for which the players should need very little motivating!

While the Tykes appear to be stabilising under the influence of their new boss, many of their rivals appear to be in freefall, particularly their nearest challengers, Birmingham City, who’ve lost their last seven, and bottom club Sunderland, who’ve only won once this year.

While the final weeks of the season are sure to be tense and include many nail-biting moments, Barnsley have a good chance of avoiding the drop this year, and hopefully they can rebuild over the summer and start to head in the right direction next time.

With Barnsley once again featuring at the wrong end of the Championship table the supposedly imminent takeover of the club cannot come quick enough for fans and players alike. A point against local rivals Sheffield Wednesday is to be applauded but just one win in the last eight games shows that the uncertainty around the club needs to end.

Although all fans have been touched by the way Patrick Cryne has battled his illness and kept them informed of developments concerning the future of the club, there are some who have been vocal about the time it has taken for the takeover to complete and frustrations are beginning to show.

Imminent Takeover?

If – as had been hoped – the consortium headed by Chinese billionaire Chien Lee manages to formally take over in the next couple of months then it would give Paul Heckingbottom a chance to invest in some new players in the January transfer window and potentially push for promotion or a playoff spot.

The club are third favourites for the drop at around 6/4 and that’s an adequate reflection of the season so far. Sunderland are expected to recover after a disastrous start so it’s surely the time for quick action.

But these kinds of business deals can drag on and if it doesn’t go through in time then that would be a massive blow for the club – leaving Barnsley in a perilous position going into the New Year.

The Season So Far

It has been a tough few months for the club and with only a handful of victories Barnsley are already looking nervously towards the bottom of the division. It could be argued that the club’s position belies the way the side has played and performed so far but – as the saying goes – the table doesn’t lie and more three point hauls are definitely needed quickly.

Don’t Wait and See

One thing that manager Paul Heckingbottom will be very clear on is the need for the squad he has right now to be performing better. Barnsley may have been unlucky against Hull and Wednesday but they need to make their performances count – and put away chances – if they are going to climb the table.

Only Burton Albion have had fewer touches in the opposition box in the Championship this season and that needs to change quickly. Tom Bradshaw is the top goal scorer at the moment but he needs some help from his fellow attackers to ensure Barnsley are taking three points home on a more regular basis. Chelsea loanee Ike Ugbo has only one goal in a Barnsley shirt this season so he is one player that needs to make a bigger contribution to the side.

A Step Into the Unknown

With uncertainty over the completion date of the Chien Lee led takeover it is very difficult for Paul Heckingbottom - and the club as a whole - to plan ahead and that makes it difficult to know what the January transfer window holds. The summer saw a lot of players coming in and out of the club – including the loan signings made before the deadline – and without a takeover deal in place it would seem unlikely that much business could be completed in the New Year.

On the other hand, if there is money to spend, Barnsley may be able to pick up some new players – including some from overseas – to push the club back up the table. Chien Lee’s association with French club Nice will excite many fans as it could mean some squad players from the Ligue 1 club swapping the south coast of France for Oakwell in the New Year.

Uncertainty Reigns

With recent rumours of the takeover collapsing, Paul Heckingbottom has gone on record to vent his frustration at the situation - and with an injury to defender Adam Jackson he knows that an influx of funds would be ideal come the turn of the year. But with the fans still squarely behind the team it may be the support that helps Barnsley stay up this season – even if the takeover eventually goes through.

Source: BCFCStats via Twitter

Barnsley have had a difficult start to the Championship this term as Paul Heckingbottom looks to continue his tenure at Oakwell.

The Tykes lost several key players last season, ending the club’s hopes of a return to the Premier League for the first time in almost 20 years.

Alfie Mawson, Conor Hourihane, James Bree, and Sam Winnall all left Oakwell over the course of the campaign, which saw the club slide from the top half of the table late in January to mid-table mediocrity by the end of the term.

Barnsley lost other key men in the summer in the form of Marc Roberts, leaving to join Birmingham for £3.5m, and Marley Watkins, who joined Norwich City, increasing the difficulty of Heckingbottom’s task ahead of the new campaign.

New players arrived, including Brad Potts and Jason McCarthy on permanent deals, while Ike Ugo and Harvey Barnes joined on loan from Chelsea and Leicester City respectively.

The club have now endured back-to-back defeats, despite their early move into mid-table, following a 3-0 hammering of Sunderland and still remain one of the leading contenders for the drop, being backed in the latest football betting odds at odds of 1/1 to be relegated to League One.

Heckingbottom has made a habit of proving his doubters wrong, beginning with guiding the club out of the third tier through the playoffs. Few expected the Tykes to remain in the division last season but, once again, the club punched above their weight, even losing key players in the process.

One of the strengths of Barnsley’s last campaign was the contribution of goals from around the team. Winnall lead the way with 11 goals before he left the club at the end of January to join Sheffield Wednesday – he has since been moved on to Derby County on a loan deal.

The forward notched his strikes in just 21 appearances, and the club struggled to kill off teams after his departure, winning just twice in the remaining four months of the season. Watkins scored 10 in 42 appearances, while Hourihane had six before joining Aston Villa.

Adam Armstrong was next on the list with four strikes but he was a loanee and returned to Newcastle. The majority of the goals have been taken out of the team bar Tom Bradshaw.

Source: VillaMadTweets via Twitter

He has led the way thus far this term with two strikes, but he will need a lot of support to make up for the departures. Barnsley and Heckingbottom will feel hard done by to lose so many of their key players. They’ve shown guts and determination to overcome a difficult start to the term and will need a lot more of that and fresh quality from their new players to remain in the division.

Salvation could come in a potential takeover from a Chinese consortium, but until that deal is over the line and funds are made available, Barnsley have to rely on their most important asset – Heckingbottom - to drive them forward and keep them in the Championship.
Source: Barnsley Football Club via Facebook
Recent reports are suggesting that Barnsley could be the next Championship club to attract rich investment from overseas, as Chinese billionaire Chien Lei has made enquiries about buying a stake in the Yorkshire club. In the current climate, a big money takeover like this may be the only chance Barnsley have at clawing their way out of the second division and into the Premier League, as the Championship is becoming more ruled by money as the years go on.

There are a number of teams in the English second tier who have recently received parachute payments from dropping out of the top flight. These include Reading, who were relegated in 2013 and received £16 million; Cardiff and Fulham, who got over £16 million each following relegation in 2014; Queens Park Rangers, who have earned £31 million in parachute payments since 2014; Aston Villa, who got over £40 million in 2016; and Norwich City, who also got more than £40 million. Add to these clubs the recently demoted Middlesbrough, Sunderland, and Hull City, and that amounts to over one-third of sides in the division to have been given large sums of money to reinvest in their teams in the last four years.

Other clubs have also been gifted additional funds to spend in the transfer market thanks to attracting investment from wealthy investors. Aston Villa, Birmingham City, Blackburn Rovers, Cardiff, Fulham, Leeds United, Nottingham Forest, Sheffield Wednesday, and Wolverhampton Wanderers have all pulled in overseas buyers who have begun pumping extra cash into the clubs.

Barnsley haven’t had a great start to the 2017-18 campaign, and lost three out of their five opening fixtures. As such, the Tykes were placed as 13/5 outsiders with bitcoin betting site Sportsbet to overcome Sunderland in their fifth fixture, despite the fact that the Black Cats were going into the game after suffering a 2-0 home loss to Leeds. Certainly, up to now, Barnsley haven’t been a reliable team to bet on, but there are other options for bitcoin bettors who want to have a flutter with a currency that isn’t subject to fluctuating exchange rates. Have a look at this blog to learn about why more people are turning towards bitcoin as the currency for betting.

Perhaps if the Lee takeover goes through then the fortunes of the Super Reds may change. This season, Barnsley rank 20th out of the 24 teams in the league in terms of money spent in the summer transfer window. They have only spent £567,000 so far, while Garry Monk has been allowed to splash £47.21 million at Middlesbrough. Nine clubs in the division have spent more than £10 million on players. The prospective buyer’s International Investment Group controls an 80% share in French club OGC Nice, who have spent £18.72 million on players this summer. That kind of monetary injection would go a long way in the Championship.

As it stands, it is believed that the Chinese billionaire has only expressed an interest in buying Barnsley. But in the current climate, it seems as though attracting an investor like this is the only way to compete in a league which is becoming richer and richer.