It’s going to be our year…
January usually brings forth the January sales right? Yeah not for us. Whilst we are making a healthy profit this year, it certainly isn’t in the wage department, as our Director of Football, Jez George, is intent on giving our players whatever they want when it comes to contract negotiations. Don’t get me wrong, I love the challenge, and don’t want to change the responsibility, but with us -£11k a week, we can’t exactly spend.
I’m fine with this, as despite the window opening, I have no interest in improving the team at this point. We are solid, and overachieving, and I don’t want to risk the dynamic. We’d left 2016 on a loss to Birmingham City, much to my disappointment, but would start 2017 away to Nottingham Forest, on the 2nd of January. We’d beaten Forest at home in the first half of the season, 3-1, but I was certain it would be a harder job. Within minutes of kick off, it was obvious that Winnall (who had grabbed a hat trick in the first match) was isolated. A brain wave struck. I had had success at Stoke City in FM13 by emulating Barcelona with a false nine (trequartista on that game), an advanced playmaker and Deep Lying Playmaker in midfield, supported by a ball winner, and inside forwards out wide. Turns out, it’s super effective on even now…
Sam Winnall…1-0…what a goal.
4-0! Ryan Kent…
4-0. Look at that…an incredible result, which saw our tiny little Barnsley FC, the South Yorkshire team, 10th in the Championship. A masterful display that can only be watched on repeat.
Surely the result of the season? Next up would be a tougher challenge, Stoke City in the FA Cup 3rd round at Oakwell. Stoke would play a strong XI, Shaqiri, Arnautovic, Bojan, Imbula…they were all there. The Barca-esque tactic had worked well last time…what did we have to lose?
1-0, Roberts from the corner!
2-0! Tom Davies!
4-0…and again, my eyes cried with joy, as Barnsley FC put 4 past the premier league side. 4-0. AGAIN! The goal of the game, and possibly the season being the cracking shot from Everton Loanee Tom Davies. Oh my. To the victors go the spoils…but for us that would mean a tough 4th round away match in the London Stadium against West Ham.
The downside to this fixture would be Sam Winnall, pulled off halfway through the game through injury. His replacement, Tom Bradshaw would play the next game and a half, before picking up ANOTHER groin strain…starting to think this guy isn’t going to play 2 games in a row.
But Bradshaw would be play our next game, away to Fulham, where the Tykes would continue their good form, albeit not to the grand extent of Forest and Stoke. We’d lost to Fulham in 2016 at Oakwell…and I didn’t hold out lots of hope for a victory. We played on the counter, and Fulham dictated play, creating the most. It didn’t look good, as goalkeeper Adam Davies would go down from a save badly, and have to come off early, with 21 year old Nick Townend replacing him. But, it would be the captain who would come up good for us, Conor Hourihane, firing a looping rifle of a shot from outside the box!
The game would finish 1-0 to us, our 3rd straight win, and a consolation on 10th place!
2 Derbies for the price of 1
We’d return to Oakwell to face Leeds United, before traveling to Rotherham a few days later. But, the lack of Davies in goal, and the injury to Bradshaw in the first half would prove devastating to us. Despite a good start, and a 1-0 through Ryan Kent, we’d lose impetus, and Leeds would grow back in to the game, grabbing an equaliser, before a winner on the 90+1 minute. They’d got their own back for our win at theirs…drat and double drat.
Rotherham would be better, and with no striker, I decided to play an attacking trio in midfield of Hammill, Maddison and Kent. It would be effective, as Rotherham struggled to get a foot in the game. Maddison would grab his first 2 goals for Barnsley, narrowly missing out on a Hat trick, and Roberts grabbing a third. Izzy Brown would get a consolation for Rotherham, but it mattered not…3-1. A 4th win in 5 games.
New deals and courting
I must be doing something right, as I was soon approached by the board to extend my stay in the “tarn”. 3 more years! I’d hope that this commitment would be enough to build a steady squad, and stop my players from flirting with other clubs…but our Captain, Conor Hourihane, was getting attention from the Prem. Watford to be precise…and with his £5m buyout..I feared the worst. Especially with him worth £7.5m now. Alas, it would be simply interest, and thankfully, I was not left looking for a new midfield dynamo.
Transfer wise, Dabo, the left back on loan from Chelsea requested a termination of his loan. Fair enough. I hadn’t played the lad enough, and I had Matty Templeton, a youth in my academy who could fill in for the ever present Aiden White.
Magic of the cup…nah
As the end of the month approached, we took the trip down south to the big smoke. We’d beaten two Premier League teams this year, we had this…we didn’t.
West Ham played a solid team, and we didn’t stand a chance, not with out our first team keeper, and a knackered team. I won’t complain. A 3-0 loss complimented West Ham, but a cup run in this competition was never on the cards, and I would quite happily focus on the league campaign.
Finally, Wolves at home. A return to the team for Adam Davies was welcome, as we looked to get back to winning ways. Aidan White, the aforementioned ever present left back would start us off, 1-0 in the first minute, a corner that seemed to bounce of the back of his head! Wolves would push and push, but nothing would go there way, and the talented Ryan Kent would finish them off in the 84th with an acute finish. 2-0 Barnsley! I should really buy this kid…
We’d finish January with 4 wins, 2 losses. We were in 10th, and we’d scored 15 goals. It was a bit mint. Who knew what the rest of the season would bring…but (not jinxing it…) with us 2 points off playoffs…surely we couldn’t do the impossible?
What do you think? How did we do. As always, I’d love your feedback, and thanks for taking the time to read our adventures!