Tale Of The Season: Barnsley

Let’s take a look at Barnsley’s campaign and assess why things have gone so well for the South Yorkshire club

Tale of the Season: Barnsley.

By Adiba Tahir

The fact that Barnsley is gearing up to take part in the Championship play-offs shows just what a wonderful job Valérien Ismaël has done at Oakwell. While many expected Barnsley to be among the sides battling against the English Championship relegation odds, the club’s fans are now giddy at the prospect of Premier League football next season, should the play-offs go their way. 

With the season winding down, and not long to go until the playoffs begin, let’s take a look at Barnsley’s campaign and assess why things have gone so well for the South Yorkshire club. 

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The manager

It was hard to know what to expect when Ismaël took the reins at Oakwell at the beginning of the season. The team had narrowly avoided relegation in the 2019-20 campaign under Gerhard Struber, and it was hard to see anything but another scrap at the bottom of the table. However, after a very shaky start, Ismaël has managed to get every single player pulling in the same direction, creating the kind of spirited mentality that can bring great results in the Championship.

Momentum is everything in the Championship. Pixabay

Momentum is everything in the Championship, and Ismaël found a way to ensure Barnsley kept their good form rolling in the second half of the season. For that, he deserves enormous credit, and if he can somehow guide Barnsley to the Premier League, it will be one of the greatest achievements in the history of the English second tier.

Star players

The strike partnership of Cauley Woodrow and Daryl Dike has been a major part of Barnsley’s success this season. Woodrow’s 11 Championship goals, combined with Dike’s nine strikes, have helped the team put together a sensational run of form in the second half of the season. 

At the back, Polish defender Michał Helik has been a colossus for the Tykes, with the club boasting their best defensive record in the second tier for many years. In midfield, Alex Mowatt has done a fine job of supplementing the goals of the strikers, and overall it’s been an excellent collective effort from the whole squad to get Barnsley to where they are. 

How it unfolded

The season started disastrously for Barnsley. Pixabay

The season started disastrously for Barnsley, making their current league position all the more incredible. An opening run of seven games without a win was ended when they beat Queens Park Rangers 3-0 at Oakwell, and after that, the team began to find a bit more solid form.

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The real purple patch for Barnsley was from the end of January to the end of March, where Ismaël’s men went 12 games unbeaten — a run that included seven successive wins. From there they improved their standing in the Championship odds, weaseling their way into playoff contention.

They have lost just three times since the end of January, and that is a credit to the team spirit and resilience displayed by Barnsley’s players and coaches. Each year, there is at least one team that starts indifferently and then builds momentum in the second half of the campaign. Barnsley has been that side this season, the question is, can they convert this stunning season into a promotion to the Premier League?

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