We’re all guilty of wanting things yesterday, it seems like a natural part of life, and when it comes to the Football Club, we can all be guilty of calling a player, only for him to go on a run of form, or criticise the manager, only for him to pull us out of the mire; but is short-termism killing our club?

Let’s be straight. Barnsley Football Club do not have the budget to challenge for promotion to the Premier League tomorrow, and, as I would argue, even if we did, we shouldn’t put all of our eggs in that one basket. As we all know, we in fact have a budget that wouldn’t even put us among the big hitters in League 1 - so what should our expectations of our supporters be exactly? Every season, at least in Don Rowing’s era, we were told that Barnsley is lucky to even be in the league, a view that many a level headed fan (or someone who considers themselves as such) supports. However, should we allow our budget to limit our expectations and make the supporters set out expecting failure?

The obvious answer to such a question is no, however every season since our promotion to the Championship, we have tried different formulae, different staff, and have thus far produced results with little variation year upon year. Cup runs and star players aside - the Championship period since 2006 has been much of the same year upon year for BFC.

As a marketing proposition, I can’t say I particularly envy Ben Mansford in the task of making the club more marketable and appealing to bigger crowds. That said, Mr Mansford certainly has a vision for the future of the football club, with the ‘Be Proud Be Barnsley’ logo rebrand campaign well underway as part of a long term plan to increase crowds by 8000 in order to end the vicious cycle where without supporters we have no money and no great team; but without no great team we have no supporters, and therefore no money.

It is clear that however much we complain about the quality (or lack of) of the manager and players, chopping and changing has had little or no effect on our results in the period since returning to the Championship. Mark Robins mustered the best league positions in the period, but did so under conditions that would have killed the club financially in the long term. The idea that chopping and changing has little effect in the longer term isn’t unique to BFC, and it’s something that’s explored in Anderson and Sally’s ‘The Numbers Game’, which looks deeper behind the stats in football. Stats have their value, sometimes they can go towards confirming what you already (thought you) knew, but sometimes they can be overused; with conclusions that aren’t necessarily true drawn from them.

Whatever your opinion on the use of stats however, it is clear that our short-termist strategy is bearing less and less fruit as the years go by, with average results and performances seeming to deteriorate year on year, but for the little runs that ensure our championship survival at the end of each campaign. It is almost unanimously agreed that Barnsley cannot continue with the same strategy if it is to remain in the Championship, with the financial and quality-of-player gap continuing to increase. It is for this reason that I urge the hierarchy at Oakwell (fans included) to look to the future and embrace a change in culture.

Barnsley FC needs to create a brand for itself - and by that I don’t mean a logo, a motto or whatever else you can think of in a marketing sense. What I am saying is that the football should speak for itself, we as fans, together with the board and management should buy into a philosophy - but what would it be?

Born and bred - in recent years our academy has seen somewhat a revival in producing the likes of Jacob Butterfield and John Stones who have since moved on, as well as the likes of Danny Rose, Jordan Clark, Paul Digby, and Reuben Noble-Lazarus who are yet to get a sustained run in the team. Many will labour at the point that when a player comes into poor form we should ‘throw these lads in’, but are we willing to change our behaviour in order to make this work? Will we actually give them a chance, or condemn them as being ‘rubbish’ and boo for making the most minor of mistakes? Do we accept that if we are to give these players the playing time they need, they could make errors that cost us games - and will we stick by them?

Playing style - the great and memorable teams play with a distinct and memorable style, be that tiki-taka or not. Plan B aside, are we prepared, as fans to agree upon a style of football to be played, and stick by it through thick and thin? Swansea fans are receiving great dividends for investing in a style of football over a long period of time - which the chairman has insisted stick even if the manager should change - should we demand as a set of fans a certain style of football, and TURN DOWN managers who won’t agree to play it?

Squad size - do we demand marquee signings year upon year at the expense of a larger squad to fall back on when injured? Do we use loanees to plug the gaps or give the youth a chance? Do we opt for mercenaries and change the team every year, or try and develop players in the hope that it will come good in the long term?

Budgeting - do we build a ground, or an expensive squad?

Time scale - where do we want to be and when? what sacrifices will we make to be there?

The questions I’ve just posed are naturally what you’d expect to be questions that the likes of Ben Mansford should answer to, but I believe we as fans have a responsibility to answer those questions for ourselves, and buy into something for the long term. Each of the alternatives that are given can reap huge rewards, but they can ultimately be extremely costly.

A combination of administration, which led to a lack of quality playing staff left Southampton in the mire, but they have since resurged with a strong English backbone and the results are clear for all to see. Swansea nearly dropped out of the football league, but a long term philosophy has brought them European football. I guess the overarching question is, what are we prepared to sacrifice in order to make it work at this football club?

Many will argue that we cannot at any price, lose our league status - but if it meant we had given a young squad, full of potential, some vital championship experience - what is to say we couldn’t come back stronger? That said, we may never return to this division, which, as the club who have played the most seasons in it, would be a real shame and a tough pill to swallow.

I guess I talk as a desperate fan who wants to see some ‘good times’ come back to Oakwell again. I had desperately hoped that last season’s exploits would translate into something even more special this season, but I think that we can all agree that it has been nothing short of lacklustre.

So I ask you, the Barnsley faithful - do we look to the long term, adopt a philosophy and give it at least 5 or 10 years, or do we continue trying to make ends meet and hope for a miracle? Comment below or tweet me @MichaelRoach55 - thanks for reading!

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