English: Egyptian football (soccer) player Mido
English: Egyptian football (soccer) player Mido (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This is my first post for a while for various reasons, however it felt right to post just a few days ahead of the start of preseason, and in light of our recent acquisitions. Already this summer seems very different to the last; whilst the Reds were without a manager and seemed to be clamoring to prepare a fit squad for the season ahead last term, the past few weeks have appeared to have been a much calmer affair, in some ways at least.

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.
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Anonymous said...

Ricardo was also said to be a lazy player and look how that turned out. Hill & Flicker can and will do wonders with any player that has the inherent ability to play very well - finding that key to unlock hidden talents in a player requires years of experience and a keen insight. Looking at the Barnsley team as it currently stands I cannot help but think that herein lies a team holding a golden ticket to succeed in the Championship.

bsandy-durkar red said...

Interesting and well-written article as always. Look forward to reading more as the season progresses.
Bsandy-Durkar Red

Anonymous said...

Great write-up Michael, pretty much echoing my own thoughts on the current situation. Obviously we know now that Norwood isn't joining the club and it's looking like Butterfield is about to leave for Norwich (if Twitter is to be believed).

Even with the departure of Butterfield, I'm fairly happy with our midfield but would hope Hill has some other irons in the fire in this department.

My major concern is the full-back positions - Wiseman and Golbourne have looked like the proverbial fish out of water to me and I hope we don't have to rely on them next season at RB and LB.

As much as I love Sir Bobby, his best days are behind him and, as you say, he is prone to injuries that keep him out for a few weeks during the season. Not seen much of Lee Collins so I can't really comment on him but I'd like to see Hill spend a lot of what he has available on the full backs - we seemed to be stronger in these areas when we had the likes of Kozluk and Van Homoet yet they were deemed not good enough by previous management.

Thanks for all the comments:
In response to the first (Anon Thursday), I totally agree that Keith and David are the people to turn these players around, after seeing what they did with Vaz Te. I agree we could have the secret formula to success in the Championship if we can get the best out of these players.

In response to Bsandy-Durkar Red, thank you and I'll make sure to keep the blogs coming

Finally in response to the last post, I agree it was disappointing to miss out on Norwood, but I think Butterfield's departure gives us chance to bring in the remaining players ahead of the season's kick-off, which will be key to getting a good start. As for the defence, I certainly saw some good stuff from Lee Collins, particularly at Blackpool and think he could be a contender to start at both left and centre back. I think Wiseman has come in for some undue stick as he's had some good games, especially going forward, and as for Golbourne, I'll reserve judgment after this pre-season, though again I can't see much wrong with him and hope he'll gel with the squad better.

Once again thanks for all the comments :)

Martin said...

Have the reds suddenly come into some dough?