Date: 30th August 2013 at 8:48am
Written by:

The poor start to the season begs the question just what has gone wrong at Oakwell?

Barnsley fans entered this season with more optimism than I have seen for a number of years, it was optimism that I shared after such a miraculous escape and sensational run of results under David Flitcroft.

However this season so far has been a total contrast as we sit bottom of the league on one point and shipping an alarming amount of goals, not to mention the fact that we don`t look like scoring.

I am far from pushing the panic button yet but many fans have already turned as football fans tend to do.

At the end of May it would be unthinkable that any fans would be criticising Flicker before we get in to September but many already are. Some fans are now critical of his signings saying he only signs his friends and they are not good enough, an accusation Flicker described as disgusting and one which he would like to sit down and talk about with these fans.

A lot of his signings are people who he has worked with before but that is surely just because they know the man and will want to play for him whereas it will be a lot more difficult to attract other players to little old Barnsley.

The inevitable sale of Scott Golbourne has also infuriated many fans but the lad now suddenly wants to go and play for a league one team after originally turning them so what are the club to do? Money talks after all and it seems the player would prefer a lower standard of football for more dosh. Flitcroft already has several possibilities lined up as his replacement.

Rumours I am now hearing is that there has been a fallout with Flicker and the new chief executive and chairman regarding the recruitment process and defeat against Huddersfield will see the manager axed. I don`t hold these rumours in very high regard and surely with what he did last season he deserves far more time than this?

The shipping of goals this season already sees us with an awful goal difference; this has also prompted rumours that Stephen Foster is set to re-join after having his contract with Tranmere cancelled by mutual consent despite having played every league game so far this season.

On to the playing side of this season and just what has gone wrong from what we saw from the turn of the year last season?

You could view it two ways and I will look at both. Outclassed by a good Wigan side who had just won the FA cup. Unlucky with a last minute own goal against Blackpool. In control against Charlton and made an error in going too defensive too early. In the lead against Blackburn and the sending off killed us. Sounds a bit unlucky when you look at it like that.

On the other hand against Wigan we gave them too much time on the ball and too much respect and let them hurt us. Throwing away a 2 – 0 lead at home is inexcusable, why go defensive at home with only a two goal cushion when we have never been able to play that way? Ok ten men against Blackburn but a capitulation like that is inexcusable even in pub football.

So what is different from last season? The first think that stands out for me is that there is not the battle, bite, effort, high tempo, closing down; never say die style of play that got us out of the mess we were in.

We need to play like that and work harder than our opposition because let`s face it on paper we should lose to almost every team in the league.

So where as it gone? Flicker did a great job to motivate them that extent last season so why aren`t they playing in the same way this season? Do the players think they are better than what they are after the run last season? I think that is part of it. Do the players need to have their backs against the wall and the pressure (or lack of pressure depending on how you look at it) of the situation they found themselves in last season as Luke Steele has suggested?

I think that is the main aspect of our problems so far but the formation, tactics, style of play and team selection also needs to be looked at.

Shipping goals has always been a problem for the reds and this season has been no different despite new defensive recruits. The injury to Cranie is a big loss that is for sure.

Another problem that we seem to have had forever is finding that out and out goal scorer but unless you are willing to pay the going rate then you just won`t get one.

Last season Flitcroft got very little wrong and this season you could say he has got almost everything wrong which is easy to say in hindsight and it is something that has happened to every manger in the game.

The Wigan game he lined up 4-4-2 when he had the right personnel to go 5-3-2 and should have. They out played us in the centre of the park and Mellis was isolated out wide.

The other games he has reverted to is favoured 5-3-2 which served us so well last season but this hasn`t worked and I will tell you why. For this system you need the right people in the right places and if those players are not available then you simply have to revert to 4 at the back.

I`m not one of the many fans who believes it needs scrapping completely (the same fans who were saying we`d got to play that way last season) but you need to look at who is available and then pick your system.

For me Kennedy and Golbourne have been poor all season and been in need of dropping but the system in a way was partly set up to accommodate both of them.

For the 5-3-2 to work and bearing in mind Golbourne is leaving then I think the following players need to be in certain positions:

Wiseman has to be right wing back with Noble-Lazarus left wing back. The three centre backs should actually be centre backs with Cranie and two from Mvoto, Nyatanga and McNulty. Then a midfield three of Mellis in the attacking role with two from Dawson, Etuhu and Perkins behind him.

Going forward and with who is available I would consider 4-2-3-1 for the next game as basically we don`t have the fit personnel to play wing backs, in a 4-4-2 Mellis is isolated on the wing and can`t get in to the game and why persist with two strikers when none of them are playing well.

My team for Huddersfield would be:
GK Steele
RB Wiseman
LB Kennedy
CB Mvoto
CB McNulty
DM Dawson
DM Etuhu
RW O`Brien/Jenning/McCourt
LW Cywka
AM Mellis
ST O`Grady

It is worth a try as everything else hasn`t worked so far.

Overall, yes it has been a poor start to the season but we have only played four league games and too many fans are pressing the panic button already. Most football fans these days have short memories. I have every confidence in this manager to get it right and he is the right man for the job so let`s all get behind the super reds against Huddersfield and be the 12th man to get the team going.