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[FM 2021] - Barnsley: Rival Screams - Moving on Up

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FM 21: Barnsley Football Club



Well here we are again, another year another Barnsley FM thread!

Now where on earth do I start with this one! A lot has changed in the last 12 months, fan favourite Daniel Stendel who oversaw promotion from League 1 a few months previous was relieved of his duties in October 2019, with the Reds lying rock-bottom of the Championship. This saw the introduction of caretaker manager Adam Murray for a run of 5 winless game.

On November 19th Barnsley appoint Austrian manager Gerhard Struber from Wolfsberger AC. The Austrian is very much a birth child of the Red Bull coaching system. This would on the surface appear to a fantastic match! Red Bull are well known for their simple aims: to play a "front foot" high press style of football, attempt to buy young unpolished talent with a clear pathway to the first team whilst securing the long term financial viability of the clubs. These are all things which you can easily to "the plan" in South Yorkshire!

Over the last few years it's fair to say the 'DNA' with which Barnsley operate with has changed significantly and to vastly oversimplify things a move to a recruitment style à la, Brentford or the Red Bull group. I for one hate these comparisons, despite the fact I've just made them. They are wilfully obtuse comparisons which fail to grasp the idiosyncrasies of each club. I'd love to tell you the ambitions of the board are abstruse to me,  however the cynic in me and our fans believe it could be more avaricious! (Don't quote me on that and don't sue me Mr. Conway, it's only my opinion haha)

I do however believe these plans are inherently similar yet different, each probably stemming from "Moneyball", I'm sure many people have seen the film starring Brad Pitt as Billy Beane, who is still believed to hold some sort of "interest" in Barnsley and our American consortium.


That is Brentford Director of Football Rasmus Ankersen speaking about the core values behind what a lot of clubs are trying to achieve. These values have seemingly been lost at Barnsley, with some fans speculating the primary motivations may have become financial and left results on the pitch as a distant second.

Now to avoid turning this post into a poor explanation of Moneyball, I'll continue with my story of Gerhard Struber's reign at Barnsley.... A 3-2 loss away at Blackburn showed promising signs on what we could still be clawed back from the season.  Results began to pick up during the December period with Struber implementing much more defensive structure to the side, whilst continuing to press the opposition relentlessly!

I can still feel the relief of that 3-1 win against Hull in late November last year, it was a bitterly cold day at Oakwell and it was such a wonderful feeling to see us win a game of football, after such a barren run! I don't believe any reds fans thought this was any sort of turning point considering we were still 5 points from safety and totalling 12 points from 19 games!!!

Little did we know the improvement was here to stay, a more organised, yet equally aggressive team. There's some impressive analysis of Struber's system at Barnsley here:



The Corona virus pandemic put a stop to the league season for all English clubs at the beginning of March. This was the table....

Surely we were dead and buried, the defeat against Cardiff had left me resigned to League 1 football with only 9 games left of the season. It was going to require a miracle to survive..... The first part of the puzzle was the absolutely fantastic job done to allow championship football to return and not face the points per game debacle...

A miracle you say.... An away win at QPR is certainly a miracle for Barnsley, our first win at Loftus Road since 1950!!!!!!! Yes you read that correctly 70 years!!!


The return of football saw the emergence of: Romal Palmer, a midfielder with effortless quality and composure which truly transcends his years, Callum Styles a squat lefty centre mid come left wing back, Elliott Simoes an attacking midfielder with an eye for goal, Clark Odour a true baller and most importantly Jack Walton, the man between the sticks, Barnsley's first choice keeper since lockdown and an inspired selection by Struber.
These are just a few of the plethora of young players in the Barnsley squad with an average age of just 23.6!!! By far the youngest in the league.

A 2-0 win against Blackburn lifted Barnsley above Luton and off the bottom of the table. A belief we could survive was now well and truly brewing among the fan base. One think for sure the last 6 games was going  to be captivating!!!
Two hammer blows followed at relegation rivals Stoke and Luton, with a 4-0 loss and a 1-1 leaving many fans disillusioned with the board for the failure to protect our most important assets and namely not replacing Kieffer Moore which had resulted in centre back Aapo Halme being deployed as an auxiliary striker.

With 4 games left we still had a mountain to climb, we would host Wigan Athletic (who were in the midst of a 12 point deduction for entering administration, dumping  them into the relegation zone) in what would surely decide the fate of the two sides. It was a frustrating afternoon for the Reds with Wigan ending the game with 10 men, which we failed to capitalise on!

Next we travelled up the M1 to Elland Road to face the inscrutable Marcelo Bielsa and Leeds! "Oh joy a chance to be relegated by Leeds! I'm sure sure I'll never hear the end of this one". What followed was unwavering, unrelenting desire and it's exactly why this isn't your usual relegation fodder squad, they may not be the best players in the league but you can tell exactly what it means to every single one of those players. 
I'll try and post a stat from Sky Sports that was shown during the Leeds game which sums up the difficulties and our profligate nature!
Many Leeds fans complimented us and admitted we were the only team to out-press and out-play them during the season, a number of chances fell to Conor Chaplin and Jacob Brown who failed to make them pay. A Michael Sollbauer own goal completely against the run of play seemingly sealed our fate and resigned us to League 1 football.



With only 2 games to go we were 4 points from safety and with games against Nottingham Forest 5th and Brentford 3rd the task looked insurmountable, a Charlton draw on Saturday left us 5 points behind going into our Sunday game against Forest. So two wins from two required, no pressure then lads!!!!

With me planting myself firmly on the golf course and away from any TV screens, with the scores level at 90 minutes it looked certain that we would be playing in the 3rd tier next year. But up stepped Patrick Schmidt to pop the ball home from 5 yards, cue pitch invasion by all and sundry to give us just a sniff going into the final day!

So a last day trip to London to face promotion chasing Brentford was all that stood between us and another 46 games in the Championship! We knew results had to go our way, fortunately Leeds did the business against Charlton, the hapless Hull were relegated and Wigan could only draw. Meaning a win would secure survival!!!
With the score at 1-1 going into extra time, we knew one goal would save us. Onto the pitch come Clark Odour and Patrick Schmidt. With a matter of seconds on the clock captain Alex Mowatt wins the ball back and plays Schmidt through down the line, the Austrian squares the ball across to an unmarked Clark Odour to tap in from 5 yards!!!!! Pandemonium ensues!

Just look at these scenes....

Anyway onto this season and it'll be another tough task for anyone who chooses Barnsley as their next FM save.
The squad still has a lot of wholes in it, namely upfront. Letting Jacob Brown move to Stoke City has certainly impacted on our high press system as well as leaving us with a distinct lack of height upfront.

You'll certainly need to address this issue, the search for a target man should be your priority, alongside depth in the left wing back.

What will be your aim for the season?

Midtable mediocrity or just survival?.... I'll be aiming for 21st that's for sure!!!



Edited by Jamesbfc1887
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  • Jamesbfc1887 changed the title to [FM 2021] - Barnsley: Rival Screams - Moving on Up
7 hours ago, karanhsingh said:

Nice write up. I know one of the owners of Barnsley and have had some interesting discussions with him! The last minute win over Brentford was quite something. Will follow your progress :thup:

Cheers, wow that's pretty cool I have to say! I've only ever spoken to Neerav Parekh from the consortium, he seemed like a decent bloke.

Generally I'm happy with our approach, I'd rather be run like we are than how the majority of the division is run.

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Season One Aim:




Another year and another season as one of the relegation favourites, with only Wycombe predicted to finish behind us, it's certainly going to be a tough ask to stay in the division but that's what we are going to aim to do.


Club Vision:




As I've mentioned in the intro Barnsley have a distinct style when it comes recruitment and how the beautiful game should be played. You will most likely see the likes of "Play entertaining football" and "Develop players using the club's youth system" with a lot of teams on FM, however I doubt you'll see such a die hard approach that often!

Very realistic though!




So these are the aims of the board for this season and my immediate thoughts are that given the media prediction of 23rd! Avoiding a relegation battle may be very hard achieve as although I believe we can survive this season I can't see us being quite as comfortable as they'd like.

Maybe we'll have something in the transfer kitty to help strengthen our cause. 

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The Squad:





Only two goalkeepers that are going to trouble your first team this season and as you can see there's not a lot between them. Jack Walton is your home grown goalkeeper and has nailed down the first team jersey over the past few months IRL. Brad Collins came through the youth ranks at Chelsea and joined last season on a free transfer from the Blues, he was in and out of the first team last season, sharing duties with Austrian keeper Sami Radlinger who has fortunately departed the club over the summer.





There's a bit more continuity in your defence than there was last season, Michael Sollbauer is the much needed commander in chief at the back and one of the main reasons we are still in the Championship! His leadership will be vital in leading an otherwise inexperienced defensive unit! At wing back you have a couple of standout players in your ranks. Jordan Williams and Callum Brittain will occupy the right whilst you'll require another left wing back to push Clark Odour unless you choose to utilise young midfielder Callum Styles there.

Ignore Dominik Frieser he can do a good job at right wing back but he's primarily some sort of forward player, he's somewhat of an enigma is old Dom!





The last day of the transfer window was a productive one for Barnsley, the arrival of Matty James and Herbie Kane was a huge statement of intent from the board and helped reinstate some faith in the board. Alex Mowatt is the mainstay of this Barnsley squad, having been with the squad since 2017!!! Tying him down to a new contract is a must otherwise you face losing him for nothing at the end of the year!

Callum Styles is an incredible young talent destined for the Premier League, he can fill in at left wing back and is the heir apparent to a Mowatt sized crown, should you fail to tie him down to a new contract.

Luke Thomas and Romal Palmer are both young midfielders who I'll look to give game time this season. It hasn't quite happened for Thomas in a Barnsley shirt as of yet, after a debut goal against Fulham he has certainly flattered to deceive. Palmer however is a young academy graduate who has burst onto the scene and impressed greatly with his ability to play in central midfield and deal with the combative side of the game, not just being a pretty footballer.

The future of Mike Bahre is yet to be decided, "on his day" he can be Magic Mike but you are only as good as your most consistent performance and I think he lacks the physicality for the English game. 

Jordan Green will be leaving, unfortunately he's just not good enough for the Championship, although his tackle against Rochdale and goal against Southend will live long in the memory, thank you Jordan!





Cauley Woodrow is your main man upfront and you'll need him to fire you up the league table, prolific at League 1 level and last season showed he was more than up to the Championship, other clubs may come looking for Cauley but it's vital you keep one of the best forwards in the division at the club long term!

Conor Chaplin has surprised many with how many goals he scored last season and is continuing to chip in with this season, having previously never been in double figures for a league campaign, never mind the fact he'd never played at this level before!

Patrick Schmidt scored a couple of vital goals last season as I mentioned in the prologue, however he's never really taken his chance as a starter but could be a useful super sub!

Elliot Simoes a younger Angolan international, signed from FC United of Manchester, having previously played for Sporting Lisbon! Now I'm sure there's 1 or 2 players who have moved to Manchester from Lisbon, I'm sure they turned out alright but their names escape me... Something to do with them both being penalty merchants or something... ;) Might be a question for @warlock, I'm sure he's of a Man Utd persuasion....


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11 minutes ago, Jamesbfc1887 said:

Now I'm sure there's 1 or 2 players who have moved to Manchester from Lisbon, I'm sure they turned out alright but their names escape me...

Bebe? :lol:

That's a pretty good looking squad you have there. Might be a tactical challenge - doesn't look there's many options at wide-midfield - but plenty to work with in other areas. 

Edited by warlock
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49 minutes ago, warlock said:

Bebe? :lol:

That's a pretty good looking squad you have there. Might be a tactical challenge - doesn't look there's many options at wide-midfield - but plenty to work with in other areas. 

Wow to think I'd almost forgotten about Bebe :lol:. I mean Nani was a pretty handy player so you could argue it's 3 good deals from Lisbon.

Yeah the squad is looking in a better state than last year. We haven't played a system with wingers since Stendel's departure and I plan to keep it that way.

It'll either be a diamond in midfield or some variation on a 5 at the back formation. Perhaps a 5212, hopefully I'll reveal the tactics and positions we need to strengthen in the next day or so.

I've got a little shortlist written down, having done some scouting on the beta. 

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35 minutes ago, Jamesbfc1887 said:

you could argue it's 3 good deals from Lisbon

That's about right... Nani was a frustrating player - brilliant on his day, but those days (at least in my memory) were few and far between. But equally, it would always be hard to live with the constant comparisons to Ronaldo.

39 minutes ago, Jamesbfc1887 said:

It'll either be a diamond in midfield or some variation on a 5 at the back formation

Looking forward to see where you take this. I had some success last year with variations on the 4132 and 4312 but, either way, I like that flat 3 in midfield - never had much joy with the classic narrow diamond. But don't let my tactical limitations sway you :D

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On 21/11/2020 at 17:38, Jamesbfc1887 said:

Cheers, wow that's pretty cool I have to say! I've only ever spoken to Neerav Parekh from the consortium, he seemed like a decent bloke.

Generally I'm happy with our approach, I'd rather be run like we are than how the majority of the division is run.

Yes he's the same guy I know, on my fantasy football league :D 

I agree it's a good approach to take especially at a club with limited resources. Seem to be on a decent run IRL at the moment.

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So here are the two tactics we'll be using, they're very similar in their intent. Hopefully we can press teams high and turn the ball over, I think this is necessary as I just don't think we have the technical ability to play the ball from back to front. Passing into space and essentially limiting the number of passes we need to get a shot off at goal.

Hopefully the attack wingbacks can provide a goal threat, with Halme being more than comfortable to sit and cover them to always leave 3 defending, should our wingbacks bomb forward.

Hopefully that midfield has a nice balance to it, fitting Simoes into the side could be difficult given he's not a natural centre mid. So that's why the 5 at the back could be the go to, although with only 4 centre backs at the club it could be pushing our luck.

I will probably end up putting us on standard mentality for most of the games now I come to think of it.



Ah well then! Since the full release we've demoted to predicted to finish bottom. Lovely stuff!!! :D

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1 hour ago, Jamesbfc1887 said:

Since the full release we've demoted to predicted to finish bottom

Nah... I reckon you'll be better than the three teams above you in that prediction. You'll be fine :cool:

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19 hours ago, warlock said:

Nah... I reckon you'll be better than the three teams above you in that prediction. You'll be fine :cool:

Hopefully, we need a few additions for sure though. Definitely a more physical striker and a left wing back would be nice.


This is the player I'm after, he's from the continent and almost perfect but I fear he's just a bit out of my price range :( 


I'll reveal who it is after the window slams shut!



Edited by Jamesbfc1887
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Will be tracking this closely!

as a Blade I’ve always had a soft spot for Rotherham and Barnsley (Through living pretty much on the border of all 3 places!)

I hope our scouts are keeping tabs on Styles. Reminds me of Grealish the way he likes to get on the ball and make stuff happen, classy player.

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5 hours ago, johnstonpickle said:

Will be tracking this closely!

as a Blade I’ve always had a soft spot for Rotherham and Barnsley (Through living pretty much on the border of all 3 places!)

I hope our scouts are keeping tabs on Styles. Reminds me of Grealish the way he likes to get on the ball and make stuff happen, classy player.

Cheers, always good to hear some fans of other clubs that have a soft spot for us, we've received a bit of hostility recently regarding what happened with Wigan. We were public enemy number 1 for a few weeks and even now I think some people see us as the villains. Not to get on my high horse or anything haha!

Styles is an excellent player, beats his man easily and he's got a future at the highest level, no doubt in my mind!

Almost finished the transfer window, recent defeats have left me worrying that we'll be right down in a relegation dog fight. And it's made me realise the need for a physically striker and left footed centre back, none of which I've bought yet! 

We'll see what tomorrow brings!

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Lee Evans joins from Wigan on loan until the end of the season, usually I wouldn't sanction a loan move for a player unless we had an option to make the deal permanent! And with his contract expiring at the end of the season, it's the perfect opportunity to do just that - should he impress!



Jackson Irvine signs a 2 year deal, with an option for a 3rd in the club's favour! I think on £4.1k p/w he's an absolute steal!

A versatile midfielder, who can play at the top or the bottom of a diamond and anywhere in between for that matter. He also brings a real physical presence to the side.



Please welcome Edvard Tagseth, well I told you we needed a left back and that's exactly wha.... Oh wait that's exactly what you haven't done kiddo! You've brought a 19 year old Norwegian central midfielder who's hardly played a professional game in his life to cover at left back for 21 year old who's only got 16 games under his belt!

Could have bought Conor Townsend or someone like that, someone with experience.... But oh how boring that would be! ;)

And before we right this one off as a stupid transfer, let's just admire how good this kid is for 19! He's got great attributes for a left wing back as well!

And to think we've got a option to buy this lad for £1.5m :eek: 

Ja takk!



Emiliano Marcondes, he's a striker right? :lol:

Well I teased this one a little bit! I couldn't believe my luck when I was alerted to the fact Emiliano was on the transfer list... Now from what I've seen from this lad he's an excellent player for this level. I remember watching a sort of documentary of his transfer to Brentford and thinking we should have been looking at that level of player! And I've always kept a glancing eye on him... 

A few years later and it seems after a somewhat rocky road he's really flourishing and becoming a huge part of Brentford's squad.

It's probably against my better judgement as essentially what I've done is bring in 4 central midfielders when we really needed a striker, left back and centre back :lol:

But we move! He can play upfront and he's significantly better their than Paddy Schmidt, that's for sure. He set us back £1.2million, which is a huge fee for us.



So there's our transfer business! No physical striker or left back to speak of :lol:




You thought I was done... Oh no! :D

One last surprise, thinking back to my days on FIFA 13 I remember this lad was an absolute beast back when he was at Wolves, he was a complete flop IIRC but he's matured since then into a decent player...


This is how I remember him :lol:. Hopefully he'll be joining in January when his contract expires at Lillestrøm.


So that's it for our transfer business, we've got nothing left to sign anyone else, so this is what we're going with!

Wish me luck COYR!

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  • 2 months later...



Mid-season Report


Unfortunately before the season had even begun there was some devastating injury news. Midfield linchpin Matty James had torn his ankle ligaments and would be out for at least 3 months!

It was certainly a tetchy September; 2 red cards in 4 games, neither of which were for Barnsley players. An Adam Idah masterclass resulted in a disappointing opening day loss to Luton.

We quickly hit form away from home with a fantastic victories over Reading and Boro, either side of a snooze-fest at home to Coventry.

I was content with our work going into the first international break.

A stunning first half display at Oakwell against Bristol City secured our first home win of the season, Conor Chaplin has been a surprise package with regards to his goal contribution, notching 3 goals in 5 games!


However this would be our last win for over a month! 3 goals in 6 games left us relying on some sturdy defensive performances in order to rack up any points at all.

As much as I have attempted to play in a way that I believe gives us the best chance of tallying enough points to survive, it has proven to be a hard watch, there have been some turgid displays, to put it politely!

The counter attacking style of play is also not suited to our attacking players, both Chaplin and Woodrow have the "Likes ball played into feet" and "Comes deep to get the ball" PPM.

This in my opinion makes them unideal candidates for the Advanced forward role, considering I want them to stretch the opposition defence and their innate propensity to do the exact opposite. Something which was deeply unpopular among Barnsley fans was seeing Woodrow utilised as a number 10 behind two number 9s. I was quite a fan of this move, he's a goalscorer, the kind of player who does nothing in a game yet still scores. So naturally you'd want him upfront but in my opinion he's the kind of player who needs a lot of protection and mainly a target man next to him. In League 1 Kieffer Moore was exactly that, unfortunately we don't have that kind of player. But watch this space!

Emiliano Marcondes sent the home fans into a frenzy of limbs as he casually stroked a 25 yard free kick 5 minutes into added time. And also found a late equaliser against Brentford to cancel out the opener from ex-reds loanee Ivan Toney.

The summer signing is proving his worth!

Chaplin continued his hot-streak against Blackburn and Brum. Bagging a brace in both games, this moved him to 3rd in the top scorer list!

Premier League bound Bournemouth proved a step too far for the young Reds side.


I spoke earlier about tactics and I'm pleased to report that the 4-1-3-2 has proved to be a dependable tactic, without Matty James available the half-back role has been filled in by centre back Aapo Halme, he's even chipped in with a few goals from corners!

 Clarke Odour and the afore Conor Chaplin have without doubt been our star players, Odour chipping in with 5 assists and Chaplin with 9 goals.

Overall a great start to the season 11 points above the drop zone! A nice gap already, considering pre-season ambitions!





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