Away to Stoke we’d go. Let’s just not talk about it yeah? An awful day, where Stoke were at their full Stoke-alona, dominating every aspect of the game. 3-0 flattered them. Perez, Sobhi and Wollscheid on the score sheet, 2 of which came from Michael Antonia long throws. Stoke clearly were feeling retro that day. The lack of pace out wide was killing us. We’re never going to be a team that dominates the game (at least not in this season), and so must build on the counter. Unfortunately, Maddison and Hammill are not pacey, and James McClean can only do so much.
We were in 18th place…things were not looking good. Southampton and Huddersfield were our next league opponents, with Liverpool in the Cup. We HAD to get 3 points somewhere, or be at risk of being cut adrift. It was time to shake things up. The international break was upon us, and it was time for a radical reshaping of the backroom. We were bottom of the league in terms of quality of training, scouting, and medical staff. Thankfully, the silly money of the Premier League meant that we could afford to buy people out of their contracts, and begin the restructure.
Scott Lindsey, my Assistant, and Jamie Chapman would be the first to go. Replacing them, the Neville Brothers, with Gary taking Lindsey’s position. Steve Black would also join our staff, whilst Keke Duran would replace our old chief scout (who I cannot remember…what little impact he had on me!) . Stuart Harvey would join as a new scout from Blackburn, and a young lad by the name of Matt Aby would come in as our new Chief Data Analyst.
We’d come back from the break to play Southampton at St Mary’s! The Saints were an incredible team, and featured Kasper Dolberg up front, the wonderkid from Ajax. Despite their power and quality, we’d do our best. It wouldn’t be enough, with us losing 1-0, BUT we were considerably better, even if the lack of quality was still apparent. It meant that Huddersfield was a must win game.
The Terriers were in a pickle as well, and found themselves below us in the table. This was well and truly a relegation battle. But, despite this, it was not a tense affair. Huddersfield showed why they were so low in the table, and we found ourselves 3-0 up in 40 minutes through McClean and Bradshaw (unfortunately still no goals from Pizarro or Azmoun…). Huddersfield would come back into it through Andre Gray, showing how useful pace is, but we’d get another through McClean, before Huddefield hammered home a consolation.
4-2 and up the table! Come on!!!!
The magic of the cup…
So, the League Cup Quarter Finals hey? We’ve been here before, last year having been thrashed by West Ham at this point. Liverpool were our opponents on this occasion, visiting Oakwell. We set up to hit Liverpool on the counter, and grab what we could. Liverpool would dominate the chances, but when it came to clear cut chances, we’d be equal. Our defense was on point, but it looked like we wouldn’t be able to break the Liverpool lines, not without pace. We’d have to rely on set pieces or penalties.
Midway in the second half, the flagging Vincent Koziello was replaced by the legend that is Rasmus Elm. 9 minutes later, we’d be given a freekick in a dangerous position. Now, I never assume we are going to even hit the target, so you’ll have to forgive my surprise when the ball flew over the wall, and hit the back of the net!! 1-0!!! 1-0 to Barnsley! Can you imagine the crazy celebration?!
Jurgen Klopp’s team would go all out, shooting from all over the pitch, but our inform defense was inspired. Nothing passed. Nothing at all. We didn’t need extra time, we didn’t need penalties…we did it in 90 minutes. Barnsley FC had beaten Liverpool. We were in the semi finals!!!!!!
As if it couldn’t get any better, the draw for the semis were made a day later, with Barnsley FC being drawn against MK Dons. Now, I don’t want to assume our success…but we can beat MK Dons, right?