Winter is coming
We’d beaten Huddersfield, and were in a League Cup Semi Final. That’s alright isn’t it?
Yeah that’s what I thought, and then winter came. 7 games in December meant a busy schedule, with Barnsley playing some of the big wigs of the league. City, Spurs, Liverpool, West Ham, we’d play them all. As usual, I identified which games I felt we could get points from, and with G.Nev by my side, I was confident we’d have a Merry Christmas. Unfortunately, I apparently had not been good this year, and Santa did not wish me to have festive cheer.
After the jubilation of the Liverpool win, we met Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City at Oakwell. Interestingly enough, City had had a torrid time of it, and were sitting in midtable, with Pep actually getting the sack on New Year’s Eve! But that didn’t matter for one game, as the Citizens beat us in an easy 1-0. The scoreline flattered us, with City limiting us to 2 shots in the entire game. If only other teams had rolled over so easily, Pep would still have a job!
The lack of any pace was killing me, and defensively we were shocking. Lee Grant was starting to become a failure of a signing, with the fans “extremely disappointed” in his recent performances. We were down on our luck, despite beating Huddersfield recently. It didn’t get better when Spurs came up north, as we sunk to new depths. I hadn’t thought we’d get worse than the city game, but Spurs found a way. 25 shots in total for the visitors, a new high, and again, the score line flattered us when it only finished 3-0.
Fair enough right. Spurs and City are by rights, top class teams. I hadn’t expected anything from the games, and whilst the manner in which we lost was awful, I fancied our chances more against those in and around the relegation dog fight. Sunderland for example! Sunderland are awful aren’t they?! Nope. An injury to Raul Navas (bringing our defensive contingent down to reserves) and Sardar Azmoun (who still hadn’t scored…nor Pizarro), and still no pace out wide meant that we couldn’t do anything going forward, and looked weak at the back. To be fair, we looked to be on course for a point, until Hammill gave away a penalty in the last seconds of the game. What a pillock. Borini stepped up and made no mistake. 3 straight losses…it was tough, and we were bottom.
It had to get better…surely? We were in danger of being cut off. Next up, Watford away. Not the worst match, not the best. Hourihane would put us in front, but dodgy defending again from our make shift back four meant Angus MacDonald would give away a penalty, which Troy Deeney put away with ease. 1-1.
Another game, another loss. Liverpool. 1-0. Oakwell had turned from a fortress into a nightmare, and we were dead bottom, and 5 points off safety. The only hope we had was that Leicester, Palace and Everton were all equally bad. If we could just limp into January, and if the board could just give me some funds, we could do something…
A turning point?
We’d finish the month with West Ham and Swansea at home. We’d struggled against West Ham on the opening day, but this time around, things were different. Alright, we didn’t score…but neither did they! And whilst Koziello would be taken out of the game early through injury, we did ok. It was a point, and whilst it didn’t move us up the table, it was more than the other teams in the relegation fight got.
Our final game of 2017 would be the Sea Swans, finishing on another draw. 1-1.A similar story, told so often. We took the lead through a deflected Rasmus Elm free kick, before Swansea equalised a minute later through awful defending from us. December finished, and there was not a win in sight.
We were bottom, we’d scored 3 goals in 7 matches, and we sucked. I was fed up of Marcus Maddison and Adam Hammill not being able to run. I was fed up with Claudio Pizarro and Sardar Azmoun not scoring goals, and I was fed up with our defenders being constantly “nervous”.
Merry bloody Christmas Barnsley FC. Hope you like relegation.