January 2012
At the time of writing the Reds are pushing through deals for Exeter left back Scott Golbourne and Leyton Orient captain Stephen Dawson – the latter commanding a 6-figure fee. Both will arrive in Barnsley from League 1, joining the likes of David Perkins, Jim McNulty, Scott Wiseman and Matt Done in the ‘League 1 crew’ of players currently at Oakwell. As these new personnel arrive, we ask if the lower leagues throw up lumps of coal, or rough diamonds?

Getting it right
What makes a good signing from a lower league? With League 1, not just the championship, now full of sleeping giants, Barnsley have often found themselves struggling to compete financially with opposition from even the top end of the lower division. In fact, all of the teams promoted from league 1 last season eventually finished higher than the Reds, just showing how competitive the game can be financially. This means that not only do Barnsley not always have access to the top players in our own division, but often have limited choice from the top end of League 1 also.

This of course means that Keith Hill has to search deeper within a division he has a lot of experience in, however, how can he guarantee that players from a struggling side in League 1 can make the step up to the championship? Of course the answer seems obvious - he can’t, but judging from the players brought in so far, Keith has a formula to polish players from the lower leagues and sell them on.

The Transfer Deadline Looms
The next 48 hours has the potential to be one of the most hectic but also one of the most important of Keith Hills first season in charge of Barnsley F.C. Not only will he have to deal with late incoming bids for the clubs better players, he will also have to try and strengthen an already depleated squad with only minimal funds at his disposal. Hill has already demonstrated his eye for a bargain with the early season captures of David Perkins, Ricardo Vaz Te and Jimmy McNulty.

All three of the aforementioned have shown that even in this current climate there are still players available who represent value for money. This transfer window has already seen the arrival of premiership midfielders Michael Tonge and Korey Smith, both will help fill the void left by Danny Drinkwater's recent departure and Jacob Butterfield's season ending injury. The midfield duo have something to prove to their respective parent clubs and this can only help Barnsley achieve there ambitions.

Despite the two new arrivals the squad is still lacking in numbers and Hill himself has recently spoke of his desire to bring in at least 2 more players, This will as always depend on the clubs ambition and there willingness to spend a little money.

Mightier than the sword?
Okay, maybe the headline's wrong - maybe I mean the Pen - but we are of course in the age of Social Media and the Web. When was the last time you hand wrote a letter to a friend?

An observation though from the last few weeks; noises from within and outside of the Barnsley Football Club seem to only espouse the negative effects of social media and its micro-bloggers. Perhaps the worst recent example was the temporary closure of Jacob Butterfield's account on Twitter - after an episode with the Oakwell Boo Boys.

But are supporters, when handling themselves correctly, wrong to voice their opinions?

Managers throughout the game always seem to slam the amateur writers and forum users for their activities. The old line of never having played the game is probably used too often.

Do you need to be a chef to see that your dinner is burnt?

If indeed those were the qualities for commentary and journalism, the good old British public would never have heard of the likes of Kenneth Wolstenholme's "They Think It's All Over", or ever have seen John Motson and his Sheepskin grace BBC TV for all these years.

Michael Tonge
Today has seen the acquisition of 2 more players through the loan market, with former Blade Michael Tonge joining from Stoke until the end of the season, and the imminent signing of Korey Smith from Norwich City, on a deal expected to last for around a month initially. This follows from the injury to Reds’ skipper Jacob Butterfield, and the departure of on loan Danny Drinkwater, who made the move to Leicester last week.

That wasn’t the only activity expected however, as the Reds had also enquired about the availability of Leyton Orient captain Stephen Dawson, with the Irish midfielder’s contract with the O’s set to expire at the season’s end. The Reds have since been pushed backed however, and will now look to conclude any possible deal in the summer window.

It's been quite a while since we last visited the stats, but RealMATrid, Matthew Williams' team is opening up an enviable lead with 341 points in On The Ponty End's Fantasy Football League.

Be sure to keep checking your squad's performance over the coming weeks and make any necessary transfers during the transfer window and to cover any long-term injuries. Maybe the next time we take a look at the league, the picture could have changed yet again?
Brian Howard
Brian Howard the former Barnsley captain has stated that wold love a return move to Oakwell as he looks to revive his career this month, and bwin betting are predicting a move back to Barnsley for the 27 year old.

The Bwin review shows that Howard scored 27 goals in 121 games for Barnsley between 2005 and 2008 left the club in controversial circumstances to join local rivals Sheffield United four years ago.

He might be most remembered for his FA cup heroics at Anfield where he scored a last minute winner, leading them to the semi final, as well as being instrumental in the clubs premotion to the Championship in 2006.

Since then though, moves to Sheffield United, Reading and a current loan spell at Millwall who won 3-1 at Oakwell on Saturday, have seen his career stall over the last couple of seasons.

Danny Drinkwater
It was a massive disappointment for Barnsley fans to learn that Manchester United accepted a £1 million bid for Danny Drinkwater from Leicester City which ended the midfielders loan spell at Oakwell.

Drinkwater has been speaking out about Barnsley's Bwin free Bet chances in the Championship since his departure, insisting that the club wont suffer because of his departure and the injury to fellow midfielder Jacob Butterfield, and bwin betting agrees.

“There are a lot of good players at Barnsley besides me and Jacob," said the 21-year-old.

"I think they can go on and have a great season. They are a good bunch of lads and I wish them all the best.

© On The Ponty End 2012
In reference to the likely transfer of Danny Drinkwater to Leicester City today,  one disgruntled Twitter user put it thus, "We're the small kid in playground having his dinner money pinched". And perhaps they've got a point, specifically in reference to the Foxes ability to flex their financial muscle over Barnsley FC off the field, despite being unable to overcome us during 180 minutes of Championship Football.

But also, perhaps we should also muse over the fantastic position that the partnership in which Keith Hill and David Flitcroft have now placed our beloved Barnsley FC. As one pop combo once put it, "It aint what you do, it's they way that you do it and that's what gets results".

Andy Gray
To say that Leicester City have spent money this season would be a massive understatement. The Foxes’ overseas owners have certainly aimed to make their mark on the Championship with big name signings, and previously with former England manager Sven Goran Eriksson. Eriksson, however, was unable to deliver the minimum aim of a play-off spot, which has signalled the return of former boss Nigel Pearson in order to attempt to recover any chances of a promotion push.

On the flip side were Keith Hill and birthday boy David Flitcroft’s Barnsley side, who had been assembled for less than the prospective £1.8m deal that would have seen Billy Sharp join the Foxes from local rivals Doncaster Rovers, a deal that has since been turned down by the Sheffield born striker.

Tactically Speaking
The Reds welcomed new signing Chris Dagnall into the side and subsequently changed formation to accommodate the forward, who appeared to operate just behind Andy Gray and Ricardo Vaz Te on the Reds’ front line. The Reds appeared to go narrow in a formation that you might call ‘The 4-4-2 Dagnall Diamond’, with Perkins and Drinkwater operating in the heart of the midfield, and Miles Addison protecting the defensive line. The aim was to pressure the Leicester defence and midfield into long balls, with the likes of Dagnall and Perkins chomping at the bit to grab the ball at every opportunity.

The cliché goes ‘New Year, New Start’, however many Reds fans will not particularly be asking that of their Barnsley side this year. The season so far has contained everything, with calls for the manager’s head after just 3 games and flirtations with the play-offs towards the end of the year, if the side had held on to their half time lead against Ipswich they would have gone 6th that evening.

Within the year 2011 Barnsley Football Club saw the last of the big spenders at this club with Mark Robins attempting a play-off push with big names such as Marlon Harewood and Paul McShane signing on loan. The play-off push failed and the club decided that it should perhaps be more prudent in its operations with new Football League financial rules on the horizon.

The answer was new manager, Keith Hill, who brought with him a plan and a structured training regime designed to get the club results, whilst playing an appealing style of football. Without any analysis at this point, I’m sure many Barnsley fans would agree that Hill and his assistant, David Flitcroft , or HillCroft as they are affectionately known, have certainly achieved that so far.

An unwelcome storm has hit Barnsley FC this week, in the shape of the alleged abuse aimed at Billy Sharp, during the recent Keepmoat clash between Donny and the Reds.

Let me be very clear from the outset, I was unable to attend the game in person and I am not attempting to provide any witness account or third party version thereof.

Writing on subjects such as this alleged incident has also been an area I have vehemently avoided in the past, regardless of the cynical ability it may have to create debate and web traffic. But as a parent and football supporter, I feel compelled to add some of my thoughts and would welcome your feedback.