Life back in the Championship hasn’t been kind to Barnsley. The Tykes sit rock bottom of the table after 20 games with just two league wins all season - half the number of 23rd-placed Stoke City. So Wednesday night’s game should be a great opportunity for Reading to return to winning ways.
Indeed, talking to Barnsley fan Rob Miles doesn’t paint a particularly positive picture for life at Oakwell. As he explains, former manager Daniel Stendel found success hard to come by this season despite winning promotion last season, with issues off the pitch playing a part in the side’s struggles.
The club released this statement about Stendel’s departure after Rob kindly wrote these answers up for us. Read his full thoughts below about the Tykes’ season so far, chances of survival and of course what could happen at Oakwell on Wednesday night.
How would you sum up your season so far?
Disastrous.... the worst start in the club’s history. Everything the club has done from the day we won promotion to now has gone wrong. We sold our best centre half (Ethan Pinnock), our joint top scorer (Kieffer Moore) and lost our goalkeeper and other first-choice centre half on free transfers. We proceeded to replace them all with players off a spreadsheet with no experience of English football and our board had the audacity to proclaim it “the best transfer window in the club’s history”.
It’s gone from bad to worse as the season has progressed with a catalogue of individual mistakes costing us goals and meaning that we need to score three/four goals every game if we are going to win - hence why we haven’t very much! There’s still some debate about whether Daniel Stendel walked or was pushed and he has been replaced again by somebody with no experience of English football. I think everybody has already accepted we are going to be relegated which is a a very sad state of affairs considering it isn’t even Christmas yet.
What went wrong for Daniel Stendel?
By the sounds of it he fell out with the board. He asked for experience, they said no and then he was gone. He cannot be blamed for any of it although the jury is still out as to whether he could have kept us up. All the fans still love him after last season which has made them hate the board even more.
What do you make of new man Gerhard Struber?
Hard to tell so early. His CV isn’t bad considering he has Europa League football on it but this is from the Austrian league and he’s lost three of his first four matches in charge. However, you could put Pep and Klopp in charge together and I doubt they could sort this mess out. It’s a poisoned chalice position now as the board are running everything, the manager is just a puppet.
What are the main strengths and weaknesses of this Barnsley side?
You will likely see for yourself on Wednesday. Our strengths are going forward - we have scored more than once on eight occasions (but won only once) - Cauley Woodrow, Alex Mowatt and Conor Chaplin have all looked like they belong at this level (which probably means they will be sold in January). However, the weaknesses are painfully obvious: the back line. We have conceded the joint most in the division and drop at least one clanger every game which leads to a goal.
Who have been your stand-out performers so far?
The aforementioned trio have all shown they can hang at this level and I dread to think where we would be without them considering how bad we are with them. I’d be very surprised if they are still at the club by May.
How do you see the game going, and what will the score be?
We will drop at least one clanger at the back so it is just up to your players to take advantage of it. We actually won our last home match very impressively - against Hull City. So I am slightly more optimistic at Oakwell than I would be away, there will be goals, there always is with us so I’ll say 2-2 with you being 2-1 up and us scoring a late equaliser.