|English: Egyptian football (soccer) player Mido (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Having read through the forums and blog posts, news articles etc., it seems that opinion largely seems to point to a ‘different’ tact in terms of acquisitions from Keith Hill, although I can’t help but disagree, and here’s why:
Popular opinion of the season just passed appeared to point to Hill’s policy of signing from the lower leagues. Whilst I feel the argument has passed, I have to point to the statistic that there was in fact one more player from the Championship/Premiership than from the leagues below us, therefore whilst colloquial opinion appeared to dictate otherwise – we did have a team with plenty of Championship experience.
That aside, of Hill’s 4 acquisitions thus far, 3 of them have come to Oakwell with Premiership and Championship experience to their name, with Lee Collins the exception, having completed his permanent move following a loan from cash-strapped Port Vale. And the nature of these 3 signings appear to have won a few supporters around in terms of the recruitment policy, particularly the surprise signing of Egyptian forward Mido – bringing much media attention with it.
However I don’t think Hillcroft have ditched their special brand of ‘turd polish’. Etuhu, Mellis and Mido do come with Premiership experience, however there remains an arguable risk, with Etuhu and Mellis struggling with the law in the past, and Mido having earned various labels as a ‘lazy’ player. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as excited as anyone about these 3 signings, though I can’t help but think part of the excitement comes from the uncertainty that each player carries; each has the potential to move on to great things, but equally they all have the potential to fall into the footballing abyss.
Then onto the re-acquisitions. Having offered terms to Foster, O’Brien and Butterfield, the former two have accepted their extensions bringing some much needed stability to the squad. Although Foster didn’t enjoy the best of seasons last time out, he’s been a good servant to the club and appears popular in the dressing room, and also isn’t one of the top earners, therefore it seems only fair to have offered him the chance to stay. O’Brien on the other hand enjoyed a fantastic last term, and appears to have gained a big rapport with the supporters with his energetic and committed performances, and amusing taste in goal celebrations. Whilst I’m happy with our re-acquisitions so far, one key offer went missing in my opinion - to Luke Steele. Luke has been with the club almost 5 years now, and has vastly improved to become a top keeper in the past 2 seasons, earning himself the player of the year award at the end of the season. Whilst he has a year left on his contract and has stated that he remains ambitious to be successful with Barnsley Football Club, I feel that the club is potentially shooting itself in the foot when it says it will review the situation at Christmas – since we all know what happens in the January transfer window.
Now onto the story of the prodigal son. Much has been said about Jacob Butterfield from fans, management and directors alike, but surprisingly not from the man himself. Whilst he has missed deadlines in order to speak to the club, it appears that the door is still open whilst he speaks to other clubs, for now at least. Herein comes the spanner in the works in summer-long target Oliver Norwood. The Reds have agreed a £400,000 fee with Manchester United, and are now set to battle it out with Championship new boys and local rivals Huddersfield Town for his signature. Although at first Norwood might not have been a threat to Butterfield’s position at the club – the signing of Mellis, supplemented with the likes of Stephen Dawson and David Perkins, does throw up some questions as to whether Butterfield, or his agent, may live to regret their indecisiveness. As for opinions on the matter, I’m with Keith Hill on this. If clubs have been interested since January, and if his agent knew what he was doing, why is Jacob not already in at another club? Yes his injury threw spanners into the works, but clubs will be keen to avoid tribunal if possible, therefore his agent should have been able to set up preliminary talks at least in order to purchase him early.
As for the rest of the squad taking shape, it appears that Keith Hill wants a goalkeeper, a centre back and a left winger. The Reds have chased Gordon Greer this summer but have come out unsuccessful, as Reds fans will know, however Hill maintains he wants a leader in the squad. For me, I’d be happy to sign players in those positions, though I think it’s key that the defender is flexible, given that an increasing number of injuries have crept into Bobby Hassell’s career, which would leave us with just one right back in Scott Wiseman for portions of the season. Whatever happens though, if the past few days are anything to go by, there could be a few interesting faces boarding the plane to Spain for the preseason training camp.
As always feel free to comment below, and don’t forget to follow me @MichaelRoach55 and @OnThePontyEnd on Twitter. In the meantime, enjoy the sunshine.