February 2011
Marlon HarewoodImage via Wikipedia
Barnsley Football Club have announced that Blackpool FC Striker, Marlon Harewood has joined the Reds on an emergency loan until May 7th 2010. His availabilty for selection is still dependent upon the deal being properly ratified by the relevant authorities.

It's another impressive capture by manager Mark Robins, backed to the hilt by the club's owner and guardian Patrick Cryne. Does this demonstrate a determined attempt to make a top ten finish on the part of the management team or more?

Harewood's credentials are impressive. In a career that began at Nottingham Forest (with loan spells at Haka and Ipswich Town), he has also enjoyed extended spells at West Ham United and Aston Villa, punctuated by short periods on loan at Wolverhampton Wanderers and Newcastle United.

This season in just 11 appearances, Harewood has clocked up 5 goals in the Premier League, which despite his 31 years is a fantastic goal ratio for a striker at that level. Having consistently played at Championship level and higher, this fella arrives with a pair of shooting boots and that is something that the Reds have been clearly lacking.

Another victory for the Reds too over the Blunts. Beleagured boss, Micky Adams has made no secret of his desire to swoop for Marlon Harewood in the press this week.

Perhaps Marlon, like the Oakwell faithful, know full well that Sheffield United are going down!

To finish off the week, we look ahead to this weekends clash at Oakwell between the Reds and the high flying Canaries, as Norwich City come to town.

Earlier today, I managed to contact "Girl in the City" to her readers, from the Norwich City Blog: Let's Be 'Avin You. AKA Rachel,  tackled the questions this week from OnThePontyEnd.com, as we find out a few things and more about the opposition.

You can also find Girl in the City on Twitter: @letsbeavinyou

Wilky: What were your pre-season expectations for Norwich City and how are you fairing compared to those?

Rachel: Well, my pre-season expectations for us were very much along the lines of ‘consolidate, avoid a relegation scrap, and a top-half finish would-be-rather-nice, thanks!’ I certainly didn’t think we would be challenging for promotion, so not only have we exceeded my personal expectations, but I think many others too. We have managed to build on last season’s achievements, and have maintained the momentum gained from promotion from League One, which has been pleasing.

We have a fantastic squad, which, although perhaps not the best on paper, have a real unity and determination to win. Our mentality of never-giving-in has impressed me most -I think we‘re now up to eight goals scored in stoppage time, and have won something like fourteen of our points in the last five minutes of matches - impressive even if I do say so!

Wilky: Statistically, Norwich City dominated Barnsley at Carrow Road earlier this season, despite the result only ending in a narrow 2-1 victory to the Canaries. Was that a typical display of your side on home turf this season?

Rachel: Yes, from what I remember of the game against you, we pretty much dominated the first-half but then you scored in first-half stoppage time! Thankfully we fought back to claim all three points, helped by the inspired introduction of Anthony McNamee. (Who as done little else since then, I’m afraid to say!)

I’m not sure I’d say it was typical. Our displays at home this season have some what differed, to be honest. There have been games we have largely dominated, but have found ourselves behind or pegged back. There have been games in which we have looked laboured, and struggled to impose ourselves in, most noticeably against teams who were struggling for form at the time. We haven’t always been as clinical with our chances as you’d expect, and that has been costly, but we have also benefited from a few very late goals, which have clinched us points at the death. So it’s certainly been an experience at Carrow Road the season, to say the least!

Wilky: In your opinion, what has been your best result this season and why?

Rachel: I would probably say the 4-1 thrashing of Ipswich back in November…but not just for obvious reasons!

There’s no denying it was good to reclaim ‘East Anglian’ bragging rights - at least until our next meeting - after all, we had waited 18 months for that! However, I really think it just added to the belief amongst the fans and players, and helped spur us on in the league. In fact we have lost just twice in the league since that result!

Wilky: If there were three things you could change instantly at Norwich City, what would they be?

Rachel: Mmm…interesting question! I’d like to wipe the club’s debt, that would be a good start! I’d also like to bring in a top quality striker to give Grant Holt a hand up-front and I’d like to add a hefty buy-out clause into Paul Lambert’s contract, so that at least if he did leave we’d get some money out of it!

Wilky: Your Blog, titled "Lets Be `Avin You" has paid homage to Delia's (now infamous) half-time rant, which no doubt caused some embarrassment back then. Can you describe any other situations or people that have heaped embarrassment on your club before or since?

Rachel: Oh bless her, I do love Delia! I know there were some people embarrassed at her rant, but for me it was just a fan trying to show her passion for the cause….whilst under the influence of a sherry or two! People seemed to forget that had it not been for her, our club probably wouldn’t be here now, and she does genuinely want what is best for the club and it’s supporters.

As for others…I can only think in terms of Chairman, Managers and one or two players that have perhaps caused us some embarrassment, but that really relates to the club in terms of the financial implications, and the relegations we have suffered. Times I'd rather not dwell on!

Wilky: What's your Clubs theme tune and which is your favourite one (current or past) and why?

Rachel: “On the Ball City….” is the theme tune, which by all accounts is described as the world’s oldest football song. (Not sure how they know that, mind you!)

Before every home game, led by a couple of chosen fans, we belt out a rendition of “On the Ball City….” It’s not the funniest, most ingenuitive, or up-to-date song, but I love it.

Wilky: What will the Norwich City fans be mostly likely singing from the North Stand this weekend?

Rachel: As mentioned above, we’ll start pre-kick off with a rendition of “On the Ball City…” then it depends on how the game goes. They’ll be a round or two of “There’s only one Paul Lambert” or “Paul Lambert’s green and yellow army…”; at one point, “City til I die…”; if Grant Holt scores, or throws himself into a crunching challenge which ruffles up one of your defenders, then they’ll be a chorus of “We f***ing love Grant Holt.” At some point they’ll be reference to Ipswich, in that we “always s**t on the old blue and white, doh do, doh do….” and if we win then I imagine they’ll be a verse or two of… “Ee ii ee ii ee ii oo it's up the Football League we go, when we win the title, this is what we’ll sing, we are Norwich, Super Norwich, Lambert is our King.”

No doubt they’ll be a bit of banter between the two of us as well, but you’ll have to wait and see how those songs might go!

Wilky: If Norwich City doesn't gain promotion this season, are you worried that Paul Lambert may leave Carrow Road and be the next "Young Manager" to make that leap to the Premier League?

Rachel: There is no doubt Paul Lambert will go on to manage at a higher level. He is proving himself to be a tremendous manager, and I can’t speak highly enough of him and his coaching team since their arrival at Carrow Road. He is a born winner.

I hope Lambert can realise his Premier league aspirations with us. If we don’t get promoted this season, then I would hope he’ll stay with us for at least one more season, and try at the second attempt, but I’m not naïve another to think that if a Premiership club came in for him, he wouldn’t leave. That’s football, but I just hope we can keep hold for him as long as possible!

Wilky: Ahead of our game, what's your score prediction?

Rachel: I can never bring myself to predict a defeat, and after the disappointment of our 1-1 draw at home to Doncaster on Tuesday night, I think the player’s will really be up for this one. Like you, I’m going for a 2-1 win; unlike you, I’m going to say in City’s favour!

Wilky: What would you say your squad's strengths are?

Rachel: As a group of players, they are determined, spirited, have tremendous willingness to persevere and just never know when to give in. The attitude and application is spot-on.

Wilky: Who is Norwich City's present star player and why do you see them in that way?

Rachel: Grant Holt is our talisman He leads the line so well, knows where the goal is, and works so hard for the side, but for me Wes Hoolahan is the key man in our team. No disrespect to the other players, but he is the one player who possesses the quality, the creativity and ingenuity to unlock a defence. He’s our little Irish genius!

Wilky: If you could have any one Barnsley player for your starting XI, who would it be?

Rachel: I’ve really like the look of Jacob Mellis, who is on loan to you from Chelsea. He looks like a real talent, and I’ve heard he’s doing well for you, so I’d probably go for him. I certainly can’t go for Danny Haynes, despite the fact I know he’s also a key player for you!!

Wilky: What is your opinion about Barnsley FC as a club, and as a team?

Rachel: Barnsley FC - a well-respected club, with good history, but that has had to endure many ups and downs, particularly over the past couple of decades.

However, at present there appears to be a stability about the club. You’re getting the best out of the resources you have available to you and have a good manager at the helm. Robins appears to have put together a well-equipped, organised team, and I’m in no doubt tomorrow’s game will be a difficult game for us.

Thanks to Rachel for joining us. If Holt is likely to be the troublesome talisman for the opposition, we can look forward to the Ponty End vocally supporting the former deedar!

Read the reciprocal interview by Wilky on Let's Be 'Avin You here: The Opposition's View: Barnsley
Football is a simple game, complicated by idiots, Bill Shankly once said, and a greater truth has never been uttered about the working class' opera. Pundits, commentators, analysts and supporters alike pull apart every aspect of the game until it becomes unrecognisable from its original state – but it is an instrument as important as a referee’s whistle when it comes to understanding why a team are where they are in the league.

Barnsley, as ever, continue to excite and frustrate in equal proportions, this time as Keiran Trippier’s late goal secured a point for the Tykes. Football bets at the ready as to what might happen against promotion chaser’s Norwich.

A draw is always the trickiest scoreline to interpret. It leaves things open to interpretation. One man’s sitting back with eight men behind the ball with not an inkling of attacking intent is another’s spirit and determination, and one man’s two points dropped is another’s one gained.

Another factor that muddies the water is context. On the face of it a 3-3 draw with promotion chasing Leeds is an excellent result, but what might have been?

This week, I've been speaking to David Wilkinson, (no relation) from the Leeds United open Fan Forum, The Scratching Shed. David is the Founder and Editor of the site, a season ticket holder in the Kop, and regular at away games.

You can also find David on Twitter: @ScratchingShed1

Perhaps if you were thinking that I would be referring to today's performance versus Ipswich Town, you were wrong ... at least for now anyway!

No, I'm referring to an earlier experience today, which if you were following OnThePontyEnd via Twitter, ended in a disappointing Tweet about my under par performance on Howie Pressman's (Radio Sheffield) Saturday Quiz, the "Full Fans 90 Challenge".

Yep, there were some silly mistakes, but I can only put that down to nerves and the fact that I had been up earlier than usual for a Saturday, as the whole thing was pre-recorded.

And yes, I would expect that everybody else would have got them all right. Perhaps, this was a serious fail, but I thought I would share it with you all nonetheless. Enjoy :0)

Howard Pressman Quiz 12-02-2011 by OnThePontyEnd

Thank you to Howie Pressman and the team at Radio Sheffield for inviting me on, I appreciate the promotion that they gave to the site.

You can catch Howie's programme on Radio Sheffield from 3-7pm every weekday with great music, great guests and a look at the issues which matter to you. He's back from 10am-2pm on Saturday.

Hopefully, I won't receive any threats to remove the clip (I didn't receive an appearance fee or a mug, plus I pay my licence fee you know!!).