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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.

"THE KEY IS BEING ABLE TO IDENTIFY UNDERVALUED TALENT IN THE MARKET, DEVELOP THEM, AND THEN SELL THEM ON FOR PROFIT, GRADUALLY BUILDING MORE VALUE INTO THE SQUAD AND GRADUALLY INCREASING THE LEVEL OF THE SQUAD.”

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:

https://spielverlagerung.com/2020/08/31/gerhard-strubers-intense-pressing-system-at-barnsley/

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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!!!

NEVER SAY DIE

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.

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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:

 

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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:

 

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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!

 

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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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