March 2018
It’s fair to say that this has been an eventful season for Barnsley fans, but not in the way that we would have hoped. The takeover in December offered promise, but the protracted process hung over the first half of the campaign, and the departure of Paul Heckingbottom and his entire team led to further destabilisation. A return of four points from four games under new boss José Morais isn’t a bad start, but the Tykes continue to flirt with the relegation zone and it’s all a far cry from last season’s successful campaign.

What has gone wrong this season? To an extent, the poorer performance this time around isn’t a surprise. Difficult second-season syndrome can affect teams at a higher level as their rivals adjust to their style of play. This can be particularly tricky for less financially powerful clubs such as Barnsley to counter as they don’t have the option of bringing in a number of better players to enable them to continue to improve.

An inability to turn good performances into victories, particularly at home, has also been a problem. The Tykes have drawn seven games at Oakwell and have earned creditable points against the likes of Wolves and Preston, but had they managed to turn one or two of those stalemates into victories, they’d be in a much more comfortable position.

Can they survive? As we know, every season throws up a team that discovers its form in the closing weeks and pulls clear of relegation, and Barnsley fans checking out online betting odds at Stakers will be hoping that this time around their club is the one that pulls off a spectacular escape act. Certainly, another spell in League One is not what anyone wants, not least the club’s new owners, who have grand ambitions.

There are a number of factors in Barnsley’s favour. The first is that, unlike most of their relegation rivals, the mood at the club remains fairly positive. It wasn’t so long ago, after all, that we were in the third tier, and psychologically the Tykes are in a stronger position than the likes of Sunderland, Burton and Birmingham to take part in a relegation scrap.

Barnsley also have a relatively easy run-in. Apart from the game against Derby and possibly the tie with Bristol City, most of the remaining fixtures are against middle-of-the-table sides that will probably not have much to play for, including the crunch fixture against Leeds at the end of April, for which the players should need very little motivating!

While the Tykes appear to be stabilising under the influence of their new boss, many of their rivals appear to be in freefall, particularly their nearest challengers, Birmingham City, who’ve lost their last seven, and bottom club Sunderland, who’ve only won once this year.

While the final weeks of the season are sure to be tense and include many nail-biting moments, Barnsley have a good chance of avoiding the drop this year, and hopefully they can rebuild over the summer and start to head in the right direction next time.