June 2014
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!