If football transfers were akin to divorce, then many Reds supporters will be filling out their decree nisi, following the recent news that the former Reds talisman Chris O'Grady has penned a loan deal with local rivals Sheffield United until the end of January.

Perhaps that's a bit of a strong statement? Let's face it, the marriage became less suited to our circumstances and it would have been expensive marriage to maintain anyway. It would have been folly to empty the family coffers to keep it going.

Before the first pair of socks went in to his suitcase, O'Grady said, "I have always wanted to play at the highest level possible, and I still want to play in the Premier League, but sometimes you have to go backwards to go forwards and staying with Barnsley in League One is definitely a good option". Any reasonable fan could understand those aspirations.

There was little surprise when the door closed behind him on 19 July 2014, when it was announced that our 2013/14 Player of the Season had eloped with the Seagulls in Brighton. We were certainly going to miss his goals, moreover we were going to miss his character and his ability to carry the hopes and desires of the Oakwell faithful on his shoulders.

The fee was undisclosed, rumoured to be modest amount for a striker with a tally of 15 goals in the Championship last season, somehow this just didn't feel like a fair settlement.

Maybe he would return? The rumour mill certainly suggested that this could be a possibility and the flames were fanned further in October, when Danny Wilson told BBC Radio Sheffield, "We didn't want Chris to go in the first place so if he was available then we would ask the question".

O'Grady stumbled at Brighton, failing to score in eleven appearances this term. The Blades turned his eye with an escape route and who would bet against the move becoming permanent next year?

Does that make us a jealous ex? Possibly. From opposite ends of the Jeremy Kyle show stage we could plead it was adultery anyway - despite us being "on a break". That's it now. Game over. It looks as though we've gone our separate ways for good.

It's time for the decree absolute. Does Judge Rinder do divorces?
The beautiful game can boast a pantheon of iconic football orators. The soundbites attributed to legends like Bill Shankly and Brian Clough are fondly recalled numerous times across the media. No doubt, they were the seed of the now common "alternative' pre or post match interview.

José Mourinho, Gordon Strachan, Ian Holloway and all have followed suit; demonstrating that they are faithful students of the genre by regularly serving up their own fair share of pathos and humour too. But they're not alone. Danny Wilson has enjoyed his moments in the sun too.

Here's a few of our favourite excerpts and quotes from Danny Wilson, said during his illustrious career in football management:

"I told my centre-backs that if they can keep their heads while all about them are losing theirs - they're out of position again" - (Danny Wilson, 1997) taken from Tell Him He's Pele: The Greatest Collection of Humorous Football Quotations Ever!
"I'm uncomfortable with all this fame and adulation. Before this I think I was just seen by most people as a little twat!" - (Danny Wilson, 1997) taken from Do I Not Like That: One-liners, Wise Words, Gaffes and Blunders from the World's Greatest Football Managers 
"If we were getting murdered every week, I'd be panicking. As it is, I'm not anxious" - Danny Wilson, Sheffield Wednesday Manager before losing 8 - 0 at Newcastle United."  
"I would go as far as to say that I don't expect the lads to lose again all season" - Wilson's upbeat message to Owl's supporters in The Guardian (13 March 2000). Eight weeks later, Sheffield Wednesday were relegated from the Premier League  - nice work Agent Wilson! 
“We’ve got nothing to fear at all and if we can beat them on Saturday then it would give me enormous pleasure for more than one reason.” - Wilson not bitter more than a decade after Hillsborough exit.

And who could forget this classic ...

"I used to be so careless, as if I couldn't care less. Did I have to make mistakes, when I was Mary's prayer?" from Danny Wilson's #3 UK Chart Hit in March 1988.

 Thanks for reading this latest offering. Do you have a favourite quote or two from Danny Wilson you would like to share? Then drop us a line in the comments section below. Plus, you can follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook to discuss all matters relating to Barnsley FC.
Nominated in the League Two Team of the Year 2014, Sam Winnall arrived at Oakwell in the summer, with a reputation for finding the back of the onion bag in England's fourth tier. Should there have been any doubts, from a cynical few, that the Reds new number 9 might not be able to replicate this success at a higher level - Winnall's stock is certainly on the rise at Oakwell.

Picture: Martyn Harrison

In an auction of Barnsley FC shirts on eBay, featuring the official Football League poppy design, the strikers shirt attracted bids in excess of £400. At the time of writing this post Winnall's is the most popular lot on offer. As his devotee count climbs, here are five facts you might not know about our Super Sam:

  1. For those of you partial to the sound of the Panpipes; on the day Sam Winnall was born, 9 January 1991, German new age music combo Enigma topped the UK Pop Chart with their less than uplifiting single 'Sadness Part 1'. Check it out!

  2. Barnsley legend Mick McCarthy provided Winnall with his first senior debut on 24 August 2010. However, it was to be his only first team appearance for Wolverhampton Wanderers before a succession of loan moves ensued.  Ultimately his contract at Molineux expired at the end of the 2012/13 season, leaving Sam as a free agent.

  3. Winnall scored his first senior goal on 22 February 2011 whilst on loan at Burton Albion. Although the sense of occasion was no doubt blighted by the final scoreline; as the Brewers were thrashed 4 -1 by opponents Wycombe Wanderers, away at Adams Park.

  4. Despite his growing reputation in the football league, you might be surprised to learn that Winnall had to wait until 9 November 2014 to bag his first-ever professional hat-trick, as the Reds thumped Burton Albion 5 - 0 at Oakwell, to book their place in the second round of the FA Cup.

  5. Sam saw red for the first time at Gigg Lane. Representing loan club Burton Albion, Winnall received his marching orders for a foul on Bury midfielder Steven Schumacher. The Brewers were once again defeated that day (1-0) in a game which might be remembered for the sheer amount of referee confetti on display. Bury players Damien Mozika and Efe Sodje were ordered to take an early bath too from the man in the middle, Nigel Miller.

It's back ... providing more good news for Reds supporters, as the unofficial Yorkshire League reveals that Barnsley FC are the current 'Kings of God's own County' in League One.

Despite Sheffield United playing one more game, their ten-men triumph at the Kepmoat Stadium earlier today, Danny Wilson's men remain undefeated in their local encounters and have been bolstered by an in-form Sam Winnall - who has so far scored in each derby fixture.

Looking ahead, Barnsley's next match with Doncaster Rovers takes place at Oakwell on Tuesday 2 December (19:45) and will be the last game of any team in this group in 2014. Let's hope we can keep this parochial success going, hand in hand with our climb up the third-tier.

Barnsley have been going through a very rough patch since September. The team had managed just two wins, against Rochdale and Bradford City, during this period. Just when it appeared that a 3-1 win over Bradford would put the team on the right path, they have since gone three matches without a win. This run finally ended after a 1-0 victory against Sheffield United on Saturday. League One promotion odds from Betfair places Barnsley at a distant 11/1 to get promotion this season.

Despite the long odds, the simple fact is that they remain just nine points from the last play-off spot and we are not even at the halfway stage yet. One of the reasons for Barnsley struggling to maintain a consistent run has been their lack of goals. Despite having numerous strikers including former Reading star Leroy Lita, the club has struggled for goals. Averaging just over 1.5 goals per game is certainly not enough for a club that has promotion aspirations. This statistic would have made for grim reading had it not been for the flurry of goals in  the last few weeks, which certainly show that the club is heading in the right direction.One striker who has especially struggled is Kane Hemmings.

The 22-year-old was scoring goals for fun in his spell at Cowdenbeath. He may have spent only one season at the club, but a return of 24 goals in just 39 matches is an impressive return. Barnsley boss Danny Wilson would have expected Hemmings to carry this form when he signed the player on a free transfer in the summer. However, he has struggled and has managed only one goal in the 10 appearances. This solitary goal came a month ago against Bradford City.

It appears that Hemmings is struggling to settle at the club and the manager’s lack of confidence in his abilities certainly does not seem to be helping matters either. Acknowledging that his performances have not been good enough for being a regular starter, Hemmings says that he is prepared to bide his time. It is probably the worst possible time for a reserve striker at Barnsley. The current first choice pairing of Devante Cole and Sam Winnall have been doing extremely well in recent weeks.

Winnall has netted in his last two appearances, while Cole recently scored against Notts County and Peterborough United. Their performances have been much superior compared to the rest of the squad.

Since promotion remains an achievable objective even at this stage, there is a possibility of Wilson resting some of the players in the weekend’s cup match against managerless Burton Albion. Barnsley are one of the clubs to have lifted the FA Cup, but promotion holds a bigger draw. Hemmings got around the Burton area and he says that he was a frequent visitor to the Pirelli stadium as a youngster.

The club has enjoyed some great FA Cup runs in recent years including the memorable 2008 season. Barnsley managed to reach the semi-finals after beating some great club like Chelsea along the way. There was no fairytale after a defeat against Cardiff in the Millennium Stadium.

Even though the prospect of another great cup run seems mouth-watering, Wilson is experienced enough to be aware that such great cup runs do not come around often. It would make sense to focus on the league. This may result in names like Winnall and Cole rested for the match.

Betfair places Barnsley at 3/4 to get past Burton in the FA Cup first-round.

Even though Barnsley have been scoring consistently in the last few matches, it seems that Wilson is keen to strengthen the team. The club has been linked with a move for Carlisle United’s teenage striker, Kyle Dempsey. Barnsley are reported to have made an enquiry about the 19-year-old, but any potential deal is yet to progress because Carlisle recently confirmed that they are yet to receive an offer. Dempsey’s potential arrival could strengthen the strike force even more, but it could also hamper the opportunities for players like Hemmings.
Crazy days! Who could deny that it was Danny Wilson's greatest moment ever at Oakwell? We were all living the impossible dream. That day was 26 April 1997 and Bradford City AFC were our opponents. The dimunative Clint Marcelle twisted his way past the Bantams defence to fire home the winner and secure promotion for the Reds to the Premier League for the first and only time in our history. A brand new era of local football folklore was born.

Sadly, the reality is that football fortunes have changed tremendously. A roller coaster of relegations, promotions, administration, cup adventures, TV finance and overhaul is not the exclusive collective experience of Barnsley FC supporters. Tomorrow's guests, trekking over from Valley Parade for the 'Live on Sky' fixture, will no doubt testify to that too.

Perhaps then, we're all looking for a fortunate stroke of serendipity to happen. A future where our substance and notoriety is assured. A different plan.

Then let me share my little secret with you.

I think I've spotted the opportunity.

It's been right in front of our eyes all along.

It's really simple.

It's all about the DOG!

You've seen the DOG. Countless others have too. Otherwise known as the 'score bug'. It's that 'digital on-screen graphic' you immediately reference whenever you see a live game being televised. It's your faithful friend arriving to the rescue, the reference point you immediately check in a bar on holiday / on a night out / while shopping, when your partner complains - "I thought we were getting away from the bloody telly!"

Okay, it may be true that you didn't know the game was on. Now, with your initial curiosity satisfield and rubber stamped by the DOG, you're fully aware that this fixture has gravitas. It's now time to embellish a backstory and come up with a reason why you simply can't miss the action. Do your job well enough and your other half might just relent and let you savour the whole thing!

We Are BAR

BAR is the key to attracting transient viewers and overseas Sky Sports onlookers. We may not be FC Barcelona, but why let that small detail get in the way of this football fantasist's blog post.

We witnessed the attempt in the spring by the Oakwell heirarchy to try and usher in a brand new mage for Barnsley FC. Perhaps they had the wrong strategy? Why reinvent the wheel when recognising the DOG brings guaranteed fame and fortune around the world? With a little dash smoke and mirrors, we would be a TV hit.

You only have to see that the art of the movie 'remix' works very well at the box office. Taking an established success story and remaking it for a new audience.

Incidentally, have you heard the rumour that our beloved 'Kes' is due a remake? With Daniel Craig in line to play 'the fair-haired, slightly balding Bobby Charlton' aka the overbearing sports teacher Mr. Sugden.

Anyway, back to the main fabrication ...

To succeed and convince the world our TV fayre is essential viewing, we've got to look the part. The first change has to be with next year's away strip. Get rid of the rainbow full of colours we've seen over the last twenty years, in with a close imitation of every future FC Barcelona strip and with it a new club crest to deceive even the most discerning worldwide soccer observer.

Voila, I submit my effort.

Then for your eagle-eyed aficionados you're going to need that star name in your squad too. But don't worry, I've sorted that out too. I strongly recommend that you check out the very latest edition of 'The Phone Book' that began landing through our letter boxes recently. There you will find exactly what you desire.

A box office name to send shirt sales in to the stratosphere (through a future 'club-owned' merchandising operation), a certain Lionel Messi, based on George Street in Cudworth could be just what we need. Despite an impressive goal ratio in his youth, Leo (67) suffers from frequent and delibitating episodes of gout, meaning he will rarely turn out for the Reds. But when has common sense stopped us in the past? Let's reach for the stars!

It's the perfect recipe for success and boy do we need a plateful of it soon.

Will the world be watching tomorrow? I seriously doubt it. Fantasies aside though, whilst a victory tomorrow will not herald a new era in our club's history, it could help us turn a corner in our fortunes at home this season. No tall tale or fantasy can equal real success. Let us know your score predictions or your views on the seaon so far. Get in touch with us on Twitter or Facebook, or leave your comments below. Thanks for reading!

It's simply depressing. The dark clouds are gathering around Oakwell once more. Barnsley FC Supporters have had to stomach defeat yet again in the league at home. Making it a dismal four occasions already this season, having played just five League One fixtures there.

Lacking any league victory since 23 August, Oakwell attendances are dwindling,  recording our lowest gate since November 2012 versus Swindon Town in our most recent encounter.

Being competitive in League One and having a "strong squad to give the supporters a winning feeling" is one superlative statement given by Ben Mansford. Should we therefore assume that we have the right resources at our disposal, but lack the kind of leadership needed to galvanise this group in to a competitive outfit?

Followers of the Reds in the 'Twittersphere' are certainly nervous.

Anyone who witnessed our latest capitulation would be equally alarmed. The starting eleven and formation chosen by DW failed to excite the home fans. Should you have been expecting the seemingly mythical pace and power possessed by this lot, it was glaringly absent on this occasion to the extreme.

In a move to placate the latest potential commercial sponsors, with rumours circulating that Oakwell is set to be renamed the "Tubbytronic Superdome", even the late cameos made by Tinky Winky and Dispy failed to ignite any kind of fight back. Say "Eh Oh!" to Saturday afternoon misery once again!

Thanks for reading this latest rambling. Is it far too early to even consider radical changes at the helm of our beloved Barnsley FC? Should supporters consider that this season is simply about rebuilding and achieving a modest position come May 2015? We would love to hear your views. Get in touch with us on Twitter or Facebook, or leave your comments on this post.
Regular visitors who have followed our recent blog series will have discovered an insight to life in League One, from the success stories we have gleaned from a Wolverhampton Wanderers and Rotherham United perspective.

But what are the real pitfalls awaiting Barnsley FC in the third tier?

To discover more, we spoke to Paul Binning from the excellent Bristol City blog, The Exiled Robin to learn about their experience, having dropped from the Championship in 2012/13 and failing to bounce back. Are there any lessons to be learned and how might things shape up this season?

Prior to the start of the 2013/14 season, how was the playing squad enhanced to cope with football in League One?

Enhanced wasn’t really the word, rebuilt is much more appropriate. We lost a dozen players from our first team squad, many of whom stayed in the Championship and proved themselves, which says a lot about our previous season, so it was a case of many new faces on day one. We were promised a fresh approach after five years of losses totalling around £50m; young, hungry players desperate to prove themselves and bond as group was the order of the day and that’s generally what we got, with one or two ‘big’ names like Jay Emmanuel-Thomas (himself only 23) and Aden Flint, signed for £300,000 from local rivals Swindon, peppered amongst the free transfers and small fee transfers.

What was the general mood and expectation amongst Bristol City supporters at the beginning of the 2013/14 season?

It was very much a feeling of resetting the bar, a grudging acceptance that to move forward and build more sustainably we had to go down this different route and results might not be immediately forthcoming. Having said that, if I had to try and average out many expectations it would’ve been to be around mid-table most of the season, with a potential late push for the play-offs/top eight once the side settled in and got some experience under their belt, so hardly too forgiving

In your opinion, are there any dramatic differences amongst the mix of opposition that Barnsley FC are likely to face next season. If so, what assumptions can we make?

I think in Wolves and Brentford you had two of the ‘obvious’ outstanding teams getting promoted, so unless yourselves, Yeovil or Doncaster turn yourselves around quickly, the suspicion this year is that it’s a slightly more forgiving division. Having said that, Sheffield United had a terrific run and will be formidable if they can maintain that momentum, whilst Simon Grayson at Preston has had a look around the outside and has a track record in getting teams up.

From an outsiders perspective, it appeared that Bristol City took two or three months to acclimatise to life in League One. What could the club have done differently to ensure that faster progress was made?

This answer could take all night!! In a nutshell the afore-mentioned policy – widely supported in August – split fans down the middle come October, when we were bottom of the league. We  couldn’t keep a clean sheet, couldn’t win a game and were facing the dreadful prospect of a second successive relegation. Half the fans wanted Sean O’Driscoll sacked, half thought that a ridiculous notion as we’d been told it would take a while for this young team to gel and they’d only had a dozen weeks together.

What could have been done differently? A higher-quality centre-half than Aden Flint could have undoubtedly been bought for £300k – he looked nervous from the off which hardly helped the younger partners alongside him, whilst in midfield for all the promise and running of our keen youngsters, we missed the know how and experience an older head brings, someone to sit and dictate the pace of the game. Wade Elliott came in on loan in January and instantly showed what we’d been missing, whilst the loan signings of Karleigh Osbourne and in particular Nyron Nosworthy shored up the back line for the first time in over two years.

We also had a bit of a nightmare in goal, with Frankie Fielding at fault for a couple of goals in his first match – a home game on the opening day – and his confidence never seemingly recovered. We were forced to play another youngster in Elliott Parish when we could have done with a 30-something to calm everyone down, organise and give confidence to those in front of him.

With the exception of those sides who were promoted, who were the outstanding teams Bristol City played in League One last season?

Sheffield United stake the obvious claim if you only take the season from February onwards, or more pertinently once Nigel Clough had a chance to get the team playing how he wanted.

Which teams do you predict will be promoted this time out and who are the outstanding candidates to make the play-off mix?

Can’t see past Sheffield United and Preston North End personally. I suspect we might be in the mix for a play-off spot alongside maybe Doncaster. Leyton Orient may struggle to get over their near-miss last time out although Brentford coped well last year, whilst Peterborough United and Coventry City both have obvious potential - if they can strengthen their squads.

MK Dons are always in the mix, whilst there are often a couple of the promoted teams who do well - so I’ll plump for Fleetwood and Chesterfield.

Thanks for reading our latest update. Catch up with Part One and Part Two in the series and give us your feedback on how you feel things are shaping up for the new season and add your comments below this post. Does the lack of recent transfer activity alarm you? Can the Reds' youngster make the step up and give us a realistic tilt at the play-offs or promotion?
Last week we published Part One in this new series, gaining a fantastic insight in to life in League One from the perspective of a Rotherham United follower on their journey as new arrivals in the division to their eventual promotion through the play-offs last season.

In an attempt to spread our bets on the eventual shape of League One this season, we continue our blog series by trying to understand what ingedients made the "secret sauce" of success for last season's champions Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Was there really more to the story than just their superior financial klout and fanatical following?

We asked members of the popular forum WolvesBlog, who were kind enough to answer just some of these questions. Here's a selection of answers they provided to OnThePontyEnd.

Prior to the start of the 2013/14 season, how was the playing squad enhanced to mount a serious challenge in League One following relegation from the Championship?

Before the start of the season the squad was a hotchpotch of (mostly poor) players brought into the club under the previous failed regimes. Kenny Jackett's first act as Wolves manager was to transfer list the overpaid wasters and 'big time Charlies'.

What was the general mood and expectation of the Wolves supporters at the beginning of the 2013/14 season?

All things considered the general mood of the fans was one of excitement. Some disillusioned souls drifted away and to be honest I can't blame them after the previous 3 or 4 seasons.

In your opinion, are there any dramatic differences amongst the mix of opposition that Barnsley FC are likely to face next season. If so, what assumptions can we make?

The teams in League One are often better than the standard in the Championship, but the biggest difference is that most lack the kind of strikers that can punish you.

Wolverhapton Wanders were a unique commodity in League One last season; easily able to boast of the largest following home and away by a country mile, with finances equally bolstered by Premier League parachute payments. Despite this giant status, how did Kenny Jacket galvanise success at Molineux where others had failed?

Kenny Jackett made sure that the players bought into the future and history of the club and that the fans and players were "on the same page" so to speak. Previous regimes had destroyed this relationship. Fans felt completely alienated by some of the vastly overpaid players we had. Kenny has turned this situation around and brought in exciting young players to whom the fans can relate.

Apart from Brentford and Rotherham, did you ever feel that any other sides could have made the leap from League One last season, based on their performances versus Wolves?

After Leyton Orient's excellent season I think they deserved to be promoted. Unfortunately the winds of football didn't blow in their favour and the rest is history.

From your perspective, what were the key moments or events in your season which helped catapult your club forward to success?

There were five key points that turned the tide in our favour. The first was keeping Sako after all of the speculation in the transfer window. The arrivals of Kevin McDonald, James Henry, Michael Jacobs and Nouha Dicko were the other four. Not only did Dicko's goals push us over the line, but he reinvigorated a flagging Sako by giving him a best friend within the camp.

If you could describe the Wolves style of play in League One in just one sentence. What would it be?

Fluid, entertaining football with plenty of flair added to the mixture.

What was your most successful formation?

We had the most success with the 4-2-3-1 formation. McDonald and Price formed a fantastic partnership in front of the back four, keeping possession effectively for us. The attacking midfield three were very fluid and often interchanged. The lone striker (usually Dicko) offered goals plus searing pace on the break.

We wish you the very best of luck in the Championship for next season, but with one look over your shoulder at the teams now left in the tier below, who do you think will be in the top six of the bunch?

For me the top six in League One will consist of Sheffield United, Preston North End, Barnsley, Yeovil Town and Leyton Orient, with Walsall just making it in having massively overachieved.

Do you have any other comments for our readers?

League One is a more entertaining league than I had ever imagined. Approach it with the respect it deserves and not with arrogance. When we were relegated to the Championship many fans assumed that we only had to turn up to games to win them - how wrong were we? All that's left to say is good luck.

Thanks for reading our latest post. You can catch up on Part One of the series
here. Don't forget that you can join the Super Reds debate right here on the blog and provide your comments below this post. Alternatively, strike up a conversation with us today on Twitter or Facebook.

Last season was one to forget for the Tykes. However, we can all take a breather because the 2014 World Cup games are well and truly underway and plenty of Reds fans are enjoying the festival of football before another domestic campaign starts.

So far Brazil 2014 has lived up to the hype. We’ve had spectacular goals from Tim Cahill and RVP, the customary England failure, and then of course controversy: stand Up Luis Suarez.

Whilst the bright lights of Rio may seem a long way away from Yorkshire, over the years Barnsley have had their fair share of stars that have graced the big stage.

Danny Blanchflower

A Barnsley, Tottenham and Northern Ireland legend, the midfielder captained his country to the quarter-finals in 1958, their best ever run in the competition. It was at Oakwell however where Blanchflower made his name in British football; playing 68 times for Barnsley before moving on to Aston Villa and Spurs, where he became arguably their greatest player of all time.

Mick McCarthy
The Ipswich boss is never far from the spotlight nowadays and in 1990 he was part of the Ireland squad that stunned the world. They reached the quarter-final in their first ever appearance at the finals, but McCarthy didn’t stop there and took his nation to the tournament once again 12 years later as manager.

Jan Åge Fjørtoft
Barnsley was the Norwegian’s last stop in Britain during a career that also included stints at Lillestrom, Frankfurt and Middlesbrough. He joined the Tykes having already made 71 caps for his nation and was part of the 1994 squad that travelled to the US before being sent packing in the Group Stage.

Allan Clarke
Nicknamed Sniffer, the striker ended his career as player/manager at Oakwell before returning once again five years later to lead them into the fifth round of the FA Cup twice. His eye for goal saw him score 12 goals in his first season at the club and that was enough to secure him a place in the 1970 England squad alongside Geoff Hurst.

Norman Hunter
Norman ‘bite yer legs’ Hunter made 31 appearances for Barnsley between 1979-1982. Many will remember Hunter as part of Don Revie’s Leeds United side of the 1970’s but he was also a member of England’s World Cup winning squad of 1966 and he finally received a belated winners medal in 2007.
With the English national team eliminated from the FIFA World Cup, local eyes and attention have very quickly returned to activities closer to home. Danny Wilson has already succeeded in attracting a number of promising prospects to Oakwell and no doubt Barnsley FC fans are already debating on the Reds' ability to potentially make a swift return to the Sky Bet Championship.

Whilst we don't have the answer, we are very fortunate to have gained the insights volunteered from a number of football fanatics who might be in a better position to do so. Over the next week, we look forward to providing a series of posts on this theme and hope to provide our readers with a better flavour of the perils and pitfalls that lay ahead for the Super Reds.

First up, we're delighted to introduce Michael Whitehead, supporter of our local rivals and last season's League One Play Off Winners - Rotherham United. Michael is a regular contributor to the excellent Podcast and Website We Are Going Up on all matters relating to the Millers.

Follow Michael on Twitter.

Can we make it by any means, with a pocket full of dreams? Hear it from New York below.

Prior to the start of the 2013/14 season, how was the RUFC playing squad enhanced to cope with football in League One?

Our midfield was easily the strongest area but Evans chose to bolster it further, Michael Tidser and Robert Milsom both joining from north of the border and winger David Worrall from Bury. Goalkeeper Andy Warrington had been moved on so Adam Collin signed up to provide Scott Shearer with some competition.  Evans is never afraid to do things his way and so it showed when he sent our defender and captain Johnny Mullins packing, knowing that Kari Arnason, Craig Morgan and Claude Davis would be enough.  He was of course right!  The full back positions were strengthened with Richard Brindley and Joe Skarz both adding some pace from the flanks.

I remember that many Millers were looking at our forwards and wondering where the goals might come from.  Ex Reds Danny Nardiello and big Kayode Odejayi had been our summer signings twelve months earlier and both had contrasting fortunes in League Two.  Kayode was never going to be a goal machine but had largely played a supporting role to Alex Revell whilst Nardiello had finished our top scorer.  However to many he wasn't quite the answer and we knew Evans wasn't a big fan of his workrate.  Sure enough in came long-time target Matt Tubbs on loan from Bournemouth shortly before the season kicked off and Nardiello was farmed out to Bury on loan a few weeks later.  Danny Hylton had been signed from Aldershot Town but he was largely an unknown quantity.

Kieran Agard had a super end to the 2012/13 season and so there were reasons to believe we might do OK for striking options.  Plus this wasn't taking into account the threat we had from midfield positions via Ben Pringle and Lee Frecklington.

What was the general mood and expectation of RUFC fans at the beginning of the 2013/14 season?

I think, on the whole, there was a sense that we might be able to surprise a few people.  The manner of how we had gained promotion - 5 wins in 5 to grab 2nd place on the last day after thinking we had blown it - had made the majority of fans believe that the squad Steve was putting together was finally starting to click and show some promise.  Personally I thought we had far too much quality to be involved at the wrong end of the table, that we could reasonably gain a mid-table finish, and maybe with a bit of luck trouble the top ten.  I was mindful that some fans may unfairly expect us to challenge for promotion again being as we achieved it under Ronnie Moore with less resources but I admit I didn't think so myself, mainly because of the massive overhaul of playing staff and reliance on the loan market which I was worried may unsettle things too much.

In your opinion, are there any dramatic differences amongst the mix of opposition that Barnsley FC are likely to face next season. If so, what assumptions can we make?

I reckon, like most 'pundits' will probably say, that Sheffield United (do you lot call them Blunts in Barnsley too??) and Bristol City will take the form of the second half of last season into the next one and should be up there.  Wolves were streets ahead of any team in League One last year - even though we gave them a game on both occasions - but I can't see any topping 100 points this time around.  Coventry, Peterborough and Preston should be ones to watch as well.  Leyton Orient were very similar to us and if they keep their best players might be up there again but I think it could too much to ask.

Out of the three sides to come down I think Barnsley have the best manager - Danny Wilson, whilst he's never got a team up from this level he's got plenty of experience and should know what it takes.

From League Two, Scunthorpe always adapt well after getting promoted and as Barnsley fans will know Keith Hill did well in League One last time with Rochdale and I expect them to be in the mix for the top 10.

Overall, what do you feel are the essential qualities that any team needs in League One to compete in the top third of the table?

It may seem obvious, but if you look at last season's table then it is consistency.  Both Leyton Orient and Rotherham finished on 86 points - which would have beat Doncaster Rovers to the title the season before.

With the exception of Peterborough United who limped their way into 6th spot, the top five teams very rarely dropped points and always seemed to manage to string good runs together at crucial times. For example, the Millers had an amazing sixteen game unbeaten run from New Years Day until April, ending with defeat at Bramall Lane, but our reward was to climb a measly three places from sixth to third.

As with any promotion winning side, an unbreakable team spirit is handy too to battle from the 1st minute to the last.  I was amazed how many times (Wembley included) that I thought we looked dead and buried - only for us to score late goals.

With exception of Brentford and Wolves, which teams did RUFC fans feel would provide the biggest obstacle to securing a Play-Off position.

Being as most of us didn't think we would be competing at the top end until maybe the turn of the year, I will answer this from the perspective of that time period!  Leyton Orient had led the way early on and despite losing at New York had looked a very tidy team with a lot of strength in depth.  Orient were the standard to aim for then (at that time). But as it moved closer to 'squeaky bum time', I think we realised that if we finished above Peterborough and Swindon then we should secure a play-off place; and so it proved.

Given their Premier League parachute payments, did Wolverhampton Wanderers dominate the League in the way that the table suggested? Without them, will League One be a far more level playing field?

It's definitely a 'Yes' to both.  Wolves were frighteningly consistent and imperious at home for much of the season, probably September onwards.  And it wasn't just in terms of winning football matches.  We had Nouha Dicko on loan from Wigan over Christmas who looked to provide us with some much needed potency up front but he was eventually lured by a huge wage packet at Molineux.  I think we also had a good chance of getting Leon Clarke in January as well but Wolves again proved to be too strong a pull.  The Blunts were noticeably weaker from Wanderers snatching Kevin McDonald from them in August too.

Whilst many would look at the New York Stadium and the number of players Rotherham are signing and come to the conclusion that we have tons of money to spend - it's worth mentioning that only Lee Frecklington had cost a fee and so much of the side that won promotion last season was put together by free signings and loan players from Premiership and Championship clubs.  Brentford similarly didn't spend a lot and Leyton Orient scrimped and saved their way to their 3rd place.

In hindsight and despite your promotion (on penalties) in that memorable final at Wembley, what could RUFC done differently to have secured an automatic promotion spot?

It may seem silly when I have said that we signed a lot of players in the Summer - but I think the fact that we had a fairly small squad may have counted against us.  This was possibly done on purpose to create a tight knit group.  But in truth, Brentford - their 3-0 reverse at NYS aside - were just too good and our long unbeaten run in the second half of the season was never going to be sustained.  If we had managed to get Dicko in the January transfer window then things may have been different - particularly as the berth alongside Revell was never successfully filled all season by the various loan stand-ins.  But I wouldn't want to take anything away from Agard who had a terrific season scoring his 26 goals mainly from the right wing.

We wish you the very best of luck in the Championship for next season, but with one look over your shoulder at the teams in the tier below, who do you think will be the top six of the bunch?

Many thanks for the well wishes.  Hopefully Barnsley make it back and we get some more South Yorkshire derbies next year.  I'm not the best at making predictions, but I'll stick my neck out and go with this:

  • Peterborough
  • Bristol City
  • Sheffield United
  • Barnsley
  • Preston
  • Coventry

Who do you think will make the grade this season. Why not put your money where your mouth is and check out the latest odds on the likely candidates for promotiion and relegation in 2014/15 by visiting http://sports.williamhill.com/bet/en-gb/betting/y/5/Football.html today!
The fat lady sang at the Riverside confirming that Barnsley FC will return to League One for the first time since 2005/06. And despite a stay of eight seasons in the Championship it seems as though she's been clearing her throat behind the curtain throughout.

Since Andy Ritchie led the Reds to the Champiuonship on that memorable occasion at the Millenium Stadium on 27 May 2006, a succession of managers including Simon Davey, Mark Robins, Keith Hill, David Flitcroft and even Danny Wilson have reinforced that we're simply not good enough and were perhaps over-achieving to be gracing the second tier.

More is the pity; there are probably a sizeable number of younger supporters now who have never experienced a time when their beloved local team were challenging at a superior level.

What happens next is anyone's guess. But any actions, statements and activity on the club's part must have one pivotal outcome - to restore pride in the badge and the sense of privilege that player's should have in representing the town, our people and our dreams.

By all accounts we have first class facilities - envied by many, a host of talent in our Academy, experienced coaching staff and will have a very competitive budget in League One next season - where average attendances are roughly 8,000 (a figure which was inflated by Wolverhampton Wanderers' whopping average of nearly 21,000 per game). There should be no more excuses.

Personally, I'm looking forward to next year's adventure. Games with Bradford City, Doncaster Rovers, Rotherham United and Sheffield United will mean there's far more than points at stake and should make for a cracking atmosphere both home and away. As I write this post - maybe York City could sneak a visit in too? With Chesterfield, Rochdale, Scunthorpe United and Oldham within an hours travelling time, the Reds on the Road could be quite a spectacle.

Regardless of which division we're in, it's vital that we regain that winning feeling again.

Thanks for following the blog this season and your continued support and feedback on Twitter. What are your aspirations for next season and beyond? We would love to hear your opinion on the changes that you feel are needed to ensure success for Barnsley FC next season. Get in touch with us on Twitter or Facebook, or leave your comments on this post.
Against all odds, Barnsley FC have secured a vital win at the Madejski Stadium. In bagging three goals for the first time since 19th October and registering only the second victory of the season on their travels - might this win be the pivotal moment we've all been waiting for?

If you've been following the forums, Twitter and even posts on this site - there have been voices who feel our season is already over and that the club lacks a masterplan. But if anyone needed an emphatic reminder that it's not over until the fat lady sings - for pure balance you have to give the right to reply.

Now let's be realistic, Danny Wilson was never going to write an open letter to supporters, but speaking to the Official Website last night the Reds boss was in a defiant mood: "We fully deserved it and the way the lads went about it from start to finish was tremendous. We pressed the ball well and our energy levels were top-drawer.

"I'm not too convinced people believe us but inside the dressing room we've got great belief. If anyone wants to come with us, that's up to them. Whatever people think of us won't change my opinion."

And I for one believe him. All we were looking for is a sign. A signal that there were players who would believe the cause was worth fighting for and survival can be secured.

This not the time for a long term manifesto - this is about the next nine games. How we face them as a club and hopefully as a united group of supporters. It's those factors that will determine the final outcome. Today, the autopsy of our season is not on the agenda.

Thanks for reading. Join the Super Reds debate with On The Ponty End. If you want to share your views on this post, please leave your comments below. Alternatively, follow the blog on Facebook and keep in touch with us on Twitter.
I live in Manchester now and I've realised that if I'd been born over here then I would probably be a fan of United or City with a soft spot for my much smaller local team (Bury, Rochdale, Oldham etc). However, it is not like that in South Yorkshire where a combination of geography and history have meant that big clubs, such as Sheffield Wednesday, and smaller clubs, such as Barnsley, see themselves as rivals.

And make no mistake, Sheffield Wednesday is a big club. They regularly get over 20,000 to their games when they are not playing well. The fact that Barnsley FC consider themselves to be rivals to Wednesday says a lot about how both clubs have been managed, particularly in the last 30 years or so.

The point is that I can understand Sheffield Wednesday. I can see that they are a big club with lots of potential and that, if they can get promotion to the Premier League, then they have at least a fighting chance of staying there. When I look at Barnsley FC, I see a club hanging on to second tier status by the skin of its teeth. I see a succession of managers forced to make compromises because the budget is not there to support them and I see players coming and going with such speed that I hardly know who is playing anymore.

I am off work at the moment and watching more football than is good for me. I watched Derby versus Forest at the weekend and the thing that struck me the most was that here were two well organised clubs with plenty of resources and each with a large fanbase behind them. For Barnsley FC even to be able to compete with clubs like these is a miracle. However, it cannot last and unless the Club reinvents itself as something other than a makeweight for the Big Boys who are in the Championship, then I really do not see much of a future.

I am not a Wednesday fan, I am a Barnsley fan. That link still gives me some identity but it is getting harder to justify each season. Surely it is time to build a community club and focus on youth? Anything else will be death by a thousand cuts.

Editors note: Thanks to John Meara for his first contribution to the site as a response to Michael Roach's recent post, "An Open Letter to the Players of Barnsley Football Club" . Perhaps the headline is bound to spark some baiting of both Wednesday and Barnsley fans alike? We invite you to leave your comments below or join the debate with us on Facebook or Twitter.
To all of the first team squad at Barnsley Football Club, whether on permanent contracts or loan, I am writing to express my disappointment, anger and disgust at what have consistently been heartless, spineless and characterless performances across the season.

I have been a season ticket holder at this club for six years, and have lived in this town since birth. Of course, many of the supporters within the stands at Oakwell will have been attending games for much longer, and to those that continually pass on their hard earned cash to this club, in good times and bad, I can only salute.

I am not blinkered as a fan to think that this club should have a divine right to even have a place in the Championship, let alone challenge at the top end of the table as I’m sure all supporters would love. I am a realist. I know that we are not the richest club, and certainly not the most glamorous. We cannot afford the most expensive squad in the division, and clearly, that translates into being unable to afford players with the ability to challenge at the upper end of the table. However, what is inexcusable, is a set of players that cannot put in an honest 90 minutes’ worth of performance in a football match.

You are a privileged few, in a town where many can only dream of the kind of wages you continue to pick up every week, yet you appear to be inept at applying yourselves at your job. I honestly do not care if we cannot afford the kind of player that can carve defences open and score a hattrick every game, but what I do care about is when a set of players are blatant in their carelessness about this club, this town, and its inhabitants.

As I have said before, Barnsley is certainly not the most glamorous place on the earth (although I should note there are far worse), but whether you like this town or not, whether you feel connected to its people or not, you have a responsibility to them. What is more, within the situation we find ourselves in as a club, you have a responsibility for people’s jobs other than your own, and possibly have your own livelihood to think about.

Whether or not you care about the others that may lose their jobs, and the people that pay your wages, week in, week out, have you no pride in yourselves? Do you care so little about Barnsley as a town and as your employer, that you are quite willing to jog on to the next club that comes along that is foolish enough to part physical cash for your ineptitude? Do you not even care that in being relegated, you will know inside yourself that you personally could have done better?

As I have said before, I am a realist. I do not boo. I do not jeer. I attend every game I can, and travel from Lancaster at every opportunity to do so. Many fans will travel even more miles than I do to see their team. Of course I find myself in a very lucky position that I can afford to do so, as I know many are not so lucky to be able to afford to attend games, despite the fact that many of them will work ludicrous hours in a mere attempt to put food on their table; whilst you drive around in your fancy cars and trot around in your fancy boots despite the fact that you wouldn’t know what an honest days’ work was if hit you in gonads.

I know that we do not have a team with the passing ability of Barcelona, or the flair of Brazil, but this town deserves more. You as players at this club are central to the town, and should be representative of the hard working values and industriousness on which it is built. Instead you have no heart, no desire, and no pride.

To me, your ability is irrelevant. I have seen many players at Oakwell who are not as naturally gifted as some of you, but by no means are they the worst that have ever played for this club, as they at least had some pride in their work. Indeed I do not speak to all of you in that dressing room, as I believe that some of you do care, and it is quite obvious who those individuals are, as they will come over to signal their appreciation for the support, win, lose or draw. In fact, in the case of Stephen Dawson, I would like to extend an apology on the behalf of the fans who personally abused you, as you were not responsible for the performance on that day, and at least came to take your medicine and thank those who put food on your table.

As I have said, I do not boo, I do not jeer, and I most certainly do not give up. I will be at Oakwell for every game I possibly can, and travel to all the away games I can reach, as will many of our dedicated fans. If our fate is to be relegation, then so be it, but at least, please, restore some pride into this club.

I wish you all the best for the rest of the season, and cling onto the very hope that despite all that has occurred, there is a chance of staying up this season. But that will only happen if you give an honest account of yourselves, which is all we ask for.


A very disappointed supporter

Edit: as a note, I do not hide behind this post. I am more than open to debate with anyone and welcome it. I don't take for granted that people will disagree with me, and do not think what I say is necessarily gospel. If you wish to debate what I've said, please get in touch through the comments below, or my Twitter: @MichaelRoach55

Thanks to those who have read and retweeted this, and also thanks for your support!
Next up, AFC Bournemouth make the long trek from the south coast to Oakwell having only tasted defeat in just three of their last eight league outings on the road. Ahead of Saturday's match, we caught up with Unnoficial AFC Bournemouth blog Tales From The South End, to find out a little more about the opposition and how they might line up against the Reds.

What were/are your expectations for 2013-14?

Before the season started it was dreams of sneaking into the Premiership via the play-offs. We still harbour those ambitions, but after 36 games we have a more realistic view of where we are going to finish. We have been running a poll on the website all season and the popular vote has been unsurprisingly mid-table. And, if we are honest, that's pretty much what we expected, we just wanted more. 

What's been your favourite match this season?

Everyone likes goals and comebacks and the game against Millwall at home, was about as exciting as it has been this season. They were 2-0 up within 10 minutes and things were not looking too good. But a goal before half-time got us back in the game and an absolute 15-minute purple patch early in the second half blew the Lions away. Lewis Grabban running past the Millwall fans after scoring got them a little excited and added a little extra spice to the occasion.

Eddie Howe has worked wonders at Dean Court in the last 18 months, what is the secret to this success?
According to the players he is a very good man manager. He knows how to get the best out of any team that he has at his disposal. I would say he is a great tactician, but some of his decisions have been questionable. He has a certain style of play he wants to adopt and endeavours to use this all all times, sometimes successfully, sometimes not so successful. The fact that he had money to spend does help, but he has invested in good players.

AFC Bournemouth have clearly benefitted from the influx of investment by Max Demin. What's the bigger plan for the club and do supporters feel comfortable with your often private benefactor?
There is no doubt that AFC Bournemouth has clearly benefitted from Mr Demin’s influx of cash. Without it there is no way we would have been able to spend £2m on Tokelo Rantie and early on £800,000 on Matt Tubbs. Mr Demin wants to see AFC Bournemouth in the Premiership and he is prepared to invest in the right players to get us there. What we like about Mr Denim is his less than public face. He is an elusive character and stays out of the limelight, unlike our previous chairman Mr Eddie Mitchell.

How will AFC Bournemouth approach the game at Barnsley?
If all goes according to plan, we will play with one up top, Lewis Grabban, and have two wingers looking to provide support. We will press the Barnsley players, hopefully forcing then into mistakes and breaking quickly into the box. It will be the classic away formation, 4-5-1, probably.

Who are the key players to watch out for?

Lewis Grabban is an obvious candidate as he scores goals and is due one in the Barnsley game. But, its the midfield and wingers where we are dangerous. Eunan O'Kane is a player who dictates the play and Ryan Fraser is a nippy winger who likes to get in the box. He has a low centre of gravity and is good at drawing fouls and winning free-kicks. 

What's your score prediction?

We don’t see it be a high-scoring match. We have played a lot of games already this month and the team is starting to look tired, especially in the last couple of performances. It will be 1-0 to one of the teams, hopefully the Cherries of course.

Following our recent two hapless performances against Leicester City and Watford, that have seen Barnsley drop to the foot of the Sky Bet Championship, Barnsley Football Club have released a statement confirming the dual exits of the Reds Assistant Manager, Micky Mellon, and Goalkeeping Coach, Ian Willcock.

With fans already sensing that there's been disharmony in the ranks, it would appear that the hierarchy are prepared to make one more throw of the dice to remedy our perilous situation - but the timing is surprising to say the least.

Have we hit the panic button, or are there other issues to consider?

Barnsley are back on the road. This weekend the battle lines will be drawn at Vicarage Road in our fight for our Championship survival and the possibility of hauling ourselves out of the drop zone, for the first time in four months.

The Reds have already been stung by a number of injuries to key personnel and the Hornets will be in no mood to surrender an impressive run of form at home. Their last defeat came in a narrow 1-0 reverse back in January, courtesy of an early Kaspars Gorkss goal for Reading. It would be fair to say that the bookies will not have deliberated too much on picking the favourite for this one.

Looking ahead to the match we invited Mike Parkin, a regular contributor to the popular Watford FC fans' podcast From The Rookery End, to provide us with his insights on the opposition.

What were/are your expectations for 2013-14?

I’d be telling porkie pies if I said Watford supporters didn’t expect much better from this season. Despite the heartbreaking and ultimately underwhelming end to the last campaign, most Hornets were quickly over our Wembley no-show as we were confident we would be back better for it this time round. The summer saw a swathe of new signings, all of which had decent pedigree, and Zola now had experience of the Championship, so before the season kicked off you would have been hard pushed to find a Watford fan that wasn’t feeling positive.

Initially the signs were good. We were scoring plenty of goals both home and away (as some readers might recall!) but in truth, the eye-catching scorelines were masking what were in some cases distinctly average performances. The team just wasn’t clicking, the new signings failed to make an impact and the absence of Vyrda and Chalobah (on loan elsewhere) and midfield maestro Almen Abdi (long-term injury) left us missing a good proportion of our most influential performers from the previous season.

The season slowly but surely descended into an unenjoyable slog, with the low point being five dismal home defeats in a row, a nightmarish run of form that culminated in Zola falling on his sword. His replacement in the hot seat was Beppe Sannino who managed to stop the rot without ever really convincing us that the team have truly turned the corner. We haven’t won away since he arrived, and despite our hugely impressive home form, our inability to pick up points away from home means the season is in effect over.

What's been your favourite match this season?

My favourite match of the season was the away fixture with Reading. It was towards the start of the season and high expectation levels combined with a short journey meant that the away end was packed. The 4,000 Hornets were soon silenced however when Reading went into a 2-0 lead. Watford did pull one back before the hosts regained their two goal advantage, but two late strikes secured what had seemed an unlikely point for Watford. It was a battling display combined with demonstrations of exciting skill and flair from a couple of the new boys, so at that stage the omens were looking very good and we travelled back down the M4 a happy bunch. Such optimism has sadly been in short supply since.

Has the takeover by the Pozzo family been a positive experience?

To fully appreciate the importance of the Pozzo family takeover, it’s important to understand the situation the club was in when they arrived. The previous owner was a dubious character in the extreme (I know, a good for nothing chancer in charge of a Football Club - who would have thought it?) and there was a very real possibility that the club would have been plunged into administration or even extinction had he remained at the helm. If you want the gory details a cursory Google search for ‘Laurence Bassini’ should furnish you with the full, horrifying story. Suffice to say we still count our blessings a few years on.

I know the Pozzo’s method drew plenty of criticism (although strangely it only seemed to surface when we were doing well - turns out we’re not all that’s wrong with English football when we’re bobbing along in mid table...) but they delivered high quality players, turning in top drawer performances and almost guided us into the Premier League at the first time of asking, all on the back of a sustainable business model and without saddling the club with a pile of unmanageable debt.

They also promised the Watford faithful that when the average attendance reached 15,000, they would knock down the long abandoned ‘Main’ Stand and replace it with a new one. Thanks to the style of football and the results Watford achieved under Zola, the magic figure was quickly reached and visitors to Vicarage Road can now see a shiny new structure taking shape on the East side of the ground. You can’t knock them, they have delivered more in a few seasons that previous owners could ever have done in a lifetime.

Understandably there has been criticism of some of the players that have been brought in, but the negative vibes have largely been aimed at Technical Director Gianluca Nani, whose remit includes all ins and outs at Vicarage Road.

Despite this season being a disappointment, the Pozzos are here for the long haul and have a proven track record of success. It’s difficult to be anything other than positive about their ownership and the future under them.

Do Watford fans regret the departures of Sean Dyche and/or Gianfranco Zola?

Sean Dyche was harshly treated. He (and Malky Mackay before him) performed wonders with a paper thin squad and with the added distraction of ever increasing turmoil behind the scenes. His P45 was not the reward ‘Stone Cold’ Sean Dyche deserved and there are a few that maintain we would be in a better position now had his services been retained. Personally, I dispute that view.

After removing Sean Dyche, Zola was installed and a host of players arrived from around the globe. The new manager performed wonders in getting the team to gel and last year saw some of the best football ever seen at Vicarage Road. It was fantastic to watch. I think that Zola’s standing in the game helped him get those players to perform, and I do wonder if Dyche would have had the same reaction. We will never know of course and whilst it was always unlikely under the new regime, he should perhaps have been given the opportunity.

Zola will always have a place in the hearts of Watford fans. He delivered a memorable season last year and the Leicester Play-Off game will go down in football history. The mid-season form was utterly wretched though and his departure was inevitable. He left in typically stylish fashion, signing off with an open letter to Watford supporters. Whilst he is missed in many respects, his departure was the right thing.

How will Watford approach the game at Barnsley?

Most Watford supporters now accept that the season is over, but we have become very, very hard to beat at home and all concerned with the Hornets will want this to continue. The aim now must be to end 2013/14 on a high so that pre-season can start in a positive vein and we can mount a serious promotion campaign.

Barnsley are obviously fighting for their lives, but the Watford faithful will be hoping for a positive performance after shipping another late goal at Doncaster in midweek. The frustrating thing about this Watford squad is that the talent within the squad is vast, they just can’t put it together consistently. With the new stand going up we’ll have an increased capacity for next year, so the performances need to be positive to be in with a chance of putting bums on new seats. There is no option but to go for it against Barnsley.

Who are the key players to watch out for?

Gabrielle Angella is a fantastic defender whilst also posing a real threat from set pieces. He’s a fine player. Ikechi Anya is a pacy winger who can leave most defenders for dead, whilst Troy Deeney is a handful up front. The real star of the show however is Hungarian International Daniel Toszer. He oozes class and is surgical with his deadball delivery. He’s on loan from Genoa, and if I could be granted one Watford wish, it would be that we somehow find a way to sign him permanently. If we had have secured his services earlier in the season, I think we would be in the promotion shake up.

What's your score prediction?

I’m notoriously poor at predicting the outcome, let alone the score, but I have to hope that Watford will be up for this one - after a disappointing midweek defeat at Doncaster. As I mentioned, we are hard to beat and don’t concede many at home. I’m going to go for a 2-0 Watford win.

You can follow Mike on Twitter or listen in on the Podcast by subscribing via iTunes.

When studying form over the last ten games, Leicester City proudly stand on the summit - as the best in the league over the last ten games. Sitting at the top of the pile in the Sky Bet Championship, five points clear of their nearest rivals for automatic promotion and having played one fewer game too.

There can be no doubt, the opposition we face will be the toughest test yet for the Reds. Ahead of Tuesday evening's fixture at Oakwell, we invited the Foxes' group Leicester Till I Die to tell us all about what they think we can expect from the visitors.

What were/are your expectations for 2013-14?

After last seasons play off misery, with the same team plus a few additions, I was hoping for a top two finish.  Having said that, I thought QPR were nailed on for one of those places, so this made that hope harder going for the one remaining automatic promotion place. However, Leicester City are the kings at shooting themselves in the foot, so I would have been happy with a top six finish in what is, in my opinion, one of the toughest leagues in Europe.

What's been your favourite match this season?
To be honest there has been so many. The win over promotion favourites Queens Park Rangers at their place, the 5-3 victory over Bolton Wanderers, especially coming back twice. But if I had to choose one, it would be the 4-3 Capital One Cup win at home, over Fulham.  It was a typical evening cup-tie, the atmosphere was great and to get the winner so close to the end sealed a great night.

Have there been many changes since last season?
No there haven't. That [stability] I believe has been the key to our success. Pearson has stuck with the same squad as last season. A few have left to comply with the Football League Championship's Financial Fair Play rules and we have brought in Mahrez and Kevin Phillips. But it is essentially the same squad, which means they can remember the pain of the bad run and the play-off defeat from last season and use that to mentally toughen up for the run in this season.

Nigel Pearson seems to have a habit of gaining success in the Championship, what's his secret?
He knows his best squad, his best formation and he sticks to it. Apart from cup games and allowing for injuries, you know the formation and starting line up that he will pick.

Who are the key players to watch out for?
All eleven! I'm not joking. We play as a team and if you mark one man out of the game another will stand up to take his place. Vardy [up front] will cause problems with his pace and Drinkwater and James will boss the midfield if you let them.

How will Leicester approach the game at Barnsley?
For certain, we will not take Barnsley for granted. You appear to be fighting for your life in the bottom three and your recent victory over Nottingham Forest shows you are no mugs. Nigel Pearson will make sure his team are up for it.

Here's a tip. Take a look at Leicester's last fourteen games and you will see what you will be up against. If you do go ahead, we have the best record in the division in coming from a losing position to win games - so be warned.

What's your score prediction?
Like I said, Barnsley are not to be taken lightly and I think it will be a tight game. I can see you scoring, but I think we will edge it on the night. My prediction, Barnsley 1 - 2 Leicester City.

You can follow Leicester Till I Die on Twitter or Facebook