The going gets tough
After a pretty decent start to the season, we sat gloriously mid table. I was under no illusions however that things would get tough, and my over riding concern was still that we lacked a pacey winger. Adam Hammill and Marcus Maddison were good last season, but they would be really tested in the Premier League, and to be honest, I wasn’t convinced they’d be up to it.
With the international break occurring at the start of September, our next league game wasn’t until the 9th, and was the first of our “big team fixtures” with Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United visiting Oakwell. United had finished 5th last season, and there was already pressure mounting on the Special One. This instability would be our key. We looked to frustrate and strangle United, and it was a huge success. We had no intention of winning, and looked to stop the game as much as possible. 0-0 on the day, a fantastic result for our team!
Our away form however would prove to be costly, and in a trip down to Leicester, we felt the full brute force the Premier League had to offer. The former Champions were not necessarily better, but were clinical. Despite an early lead through Hammill, Islam Slimani and Jamie Vardy would combine to run us out of town in a 3-1 loss. It was gutting if honest, and really did make me fear the worst. That lack of a clinical edge would have the potential to be a defining failure of our team, and I was determined that my team could prove themselves to compete.
League Cup Rest-bite
As it has done for so many, the League Cup would provide us with some rest from the league yet again. We’d face the Swansea team we had lost to the previous month, this time at Oakwell. Swansea would in all honesty outplay us. We didn’t deserve to hold out, but somehow we did, taking the game all the way to penalties. On the occasion, the returning Davies would be our hero, saving 3 Swansea penalties and sending us through to the next round! 3-2 Barnsley.
2 final away games to end the month saw us visit Newcastle and Bournemouth respectfully. Newly promoted Newcastle had won the previous season’s Championship, and Rafa Benitez was in no mood to end our feud. The game however wouldn’t live up to his hype, and a Jesus Gamez own goal was cancelled out by a Grant Hanley header to finish up the game 1-1, picking up our first away point!
Our away trip to the south coast would not be so enjoyable, as yet another costly lack of clinical finishing saw Bournemouth win 2-1. Marc Roberts would put the ball in his own net, whilst Steve Cook would double the Cherries lead, before that man James McClean grabbed a goal back for us. No goals for Pizarro or Azmoun were particularly worrying, and their average ratings were even worse. My thoughts were that it was down to the lack of chances being created to their feet. Pizarro isn’t blessed for pace, and Azmoun lacks composure, so both need a good few chances to fall to them before they can score. I was worried that their luck would never end!
We ended September with another international break, and without a win in the league, found ourselves dropping to 16th place. Still outside the relegation zone, but getting frighteningly close to it…