EFL Team in Focus: Barnsley’s battle

Barnsley’s 3-1 home loss to Brentford on Sunday means they have not won a game since the opening day upsetting of Fulham – and remain (three) points adrift of safety in the Championship relegation zone.

Gabriel Sutton (@_FootbalLab) looks at their tough start to the season.

Energetic spells

Barnsley’s game plan is all about high-pressing, getting men forward quickly and incisive transitions.

That worked a treat for them in the first 25 minutes against Brentford, where they created enough chances to build on Cauley Woodrow’s stunning first-minute long-ranger.

If there is one main positive for the Tykes to take from their return to the second-tier so far, it would be that they are implementing certain aspects of the game plan that they want in terms of the work off the ball, the passing and the co-ordination of movement.

Mowatt’s midfield work

Alex Mowatt will be key to Barnsley’s chances of staying up.

The midfielder, rated so highly early in his career at Leeds, had a slight deep and was unable to overly impress at Oxford in 2017-18, but he appears to be rebuilding his career at Barnsley.

Tenacious and possessing a sweet left foot, Mowatt inspired the Reds’ automatic promotion last season and has been among their best players so far this term.

Short bursts

The work of Mowatt and co. catalyses these spells of pressure, which are normally high on intensity if low on duration.

Barnsley are typically on top in their games for no longer than half an hour – it would be unreasonable to expect otherwise, because their method of chance creation is so reliant on energy levels.

Since March 2019, every goal they have scored has either been their only goal of the game, or within a half-hour of action of another goal – this suggests that, rather than have all their opportunities spread out across 90 minutes, they tend to get a glut of chances in short periods.

Must be more clinical

The task will be to be more ruthless during those periods.

Barnsley have had 120 shots this season – the joint-eighth most in the Championship.

Of those, 72 have come in the penalty box – only four teams have registered more efforts from inside the 18-yard area.

And yet, only 33 of their shots – barely more than a quarter – have been on target and Daniel Stendel’s side are the lowest scorers with a paltry five goals.

That would suggest that Barnsley are lacking an element of composure in their finishing, especially in the box.

Players out of position

Toby Sibbick is a right-back but, due to the injury problems with Cameron McGeehan, he has started four games in central midfield, at the expense of a supremely talented midfielder by trade in Callum Styles.

Jordan Williams is a right-footed centre-back or midfielder by trade yet has played two of his three games at left-back, ahead of Dani Pinillos.

Stendel deserves plenty of trust based on what he helped the club achieve last season and there may be perfectly valid reasons behind certain decisions.

Whatever those reasons, though, one cannot help but feel it is challenging enough for this young squad, many of whom are playing at this level for the first time, to play well in their favoured position.

It might be that asking some of them to play somewhere they are not used to at a standard of football that they are not used to may be too much of a tall order – the sooner Barnsley can get 11 square pegs in 11 square holes, the better.

Doubts over current style

A lot of Barnsley fans are questioning whether Stendel’s high-pressing methods can work in the Championship – does he need to adapt and potentially employ a more pragmatic or defensive approach?

Certain theories go that they were successful in League One, last season, because they had more technical ability than the teams they faced and therefore, the drawbacks of the system were not exposed as much.

Now that they are in a division above, they are facing better quality teams who have the vision to pick long-range passes that allow them to play through the press and create clear goalscoring opportunities, as Brentford did to maximum effect.

Will more teams pick Barnsley off if they keep playing the same way?

Following North End’s lead

The counterargument to the above would be that, firstly, their current shot data is more compelling than seven teams in the division – so perhaps with better finishing, the confidence in the current strategy might be stronger.

Secondly, Preston North End have used a similar ideology under Alex Neil and, with possibly a bottom six budget, they have always been on the coat-tails of the Play-Offs.

Tough season ahead

Time will tell whether Barnsley’s style can work at this level – Stendel must decide whether to make defensive tweaks, whether to perfect the pressing work his side do, whether they just need to finish their chances or even get a bit more luck.

It could be a combination of those things – but with Autumn cellar-dwellers Stoke and Huddersfield likely to improve, Barnsley must close the gap on their bottom half competitors.

It looks like being an arduous campaign in South Yorkshire.


⚫️ BET £30 & GET A £30 FREE BET FOR FOOTBALL PLUS 20 FREE SPINS! ⚫️
New customers only aged 21+. Minimum deposit £10. Qualifying bet must be placed at odds of evens (2.0) or greater. Get a matched Free bet up to £30 plus 20 Free Spins on Fishin’ Frenzy The Big Catch, credited within 24 hours. Free Bet and Spins expire in 7 days. Additional T&Cs apply. Please bet responsibly.
Claim Now
🔵 £40 IN FREE BETS WHEN YOU PLACE A £10 BET ON FOOTBALL 🔵
NEW CUSTOMERS ONLY. FIRST SINGLE & E/W BET ONLY. £10 MINIMUM STAKE. ODDS OF 1/1 OR GREATER. 4 X £10 BET TOKEN. FREE BET STAKES NOT INCLUDED IN RETURNS. FREE BETS FOR FOOTBALL ONLY. FREE BETS ARE NON WITHDRAWABLE. NO FREE BET EXPIRY. ELIGIBILITY RESTRICTIONS AND FURTHER T&CS APPLY. 18+. BEGAMBLEAWARE.ORG.
Claim Now
🟢 GET £40 IN FREE BETS WHEN YOU PLACE A £10 BET ON FOOTBALL + PLUS AN EXTRA £5 BET BUILDER 🟢
Place a single £10 bet on any Football market, at min. odds 1/2 (1.5) - Get £40 in Free bets on bet settlement, valid 30 days + an extra £5 Free Football Bet Builder will be available to claim from the promotions hub. Only deposits via Cards will qualify. T&Cs apply. Please Gamble Responsibly. 18+.
Claim Now
🟠 BET £10 & GET £20 IN FREE BETS FOR FOOTBALL! 🟠
*New members. £10 min deposit & bet on sportsbook, placed & settled at 1.5 min odds within 14 days of sign-up. Win part of E/W bets. 2 non-withdrawable £10 Free Bet Tokens: accept in 7 days, valid for 7 days from crediting (ex. E/Ws & Multiples), stakes not returned. Click here for Rules & Exclusions. Bet Responsibly. BeGambleAware.org
CLAIM HERE
🔸 BET £10 ON FOOTBALL AND GET £30 IN FREE BETS FOR THE WORLD CUP! 🔸
New Customer offer. Place a min £10 bet on the Sportsbook on odds of min 1/2 (1.5), get £30 in Free Bets. Rewards valid for 30 days. SMS verification required. Only deposits via cards will qualify. T&Cs apply. Please Gamble Responsibly
Claim Now
⚫️ £30 MATCHED FREE BET IF YOUR FIRST ACCA LOSES + 50 BONUS SPINS ⚫️
*New UK customers only. Min Deposit: £5. Maximum Free Bet: £30. First bet on a Football or Horse Racing multiple with 3+ selections. Overall odds: 3.00 (2/1) or higher. Free Bets available upon settlement of the qualifying bet. This is offer is valid for 7 days from your new account being registered. 50 Bonus Spins credited on placement of qualifying Acca bet.50x bonus wagering applies as do weighting requirements, bonus Spins only available on selected games and expires 7 days after being awarded. Debit card deposits only (exclusions apply). 18+. BeGambleAware.org. Bet The Responsible Way. Full terms apply. 18+.
Claim Now
🔵 BET £10 & GET A £10 FREE BET FOR FOOTBALL! 🔵
18+ / BEGAMBLEAWARE / NEW UK CUSTOMERS ONLY / £10+ DEPOSIT & BET TO QUALIFY / FREE BET VALID FOR 7 DAYS / NO E-WALLETS / PREPAID CARDS / T&CS APPLY
Claim Now
🟢 BET £10 & GET £50 IN FREE BETS FOR FOOTBALL! 🟡
For new customers. Min deposit requirement. Free Bets are paid as Bet Credits and are available for use upon settlement of qualifying bets. Min odds, bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. Time limits and T&Cs apply.
Claim Now
🟩 BET £10 & GET £30 IN FREE BETS FOR FOOTBALL 🟩
New UK, IE & Malta customers only. 18+. Min £10/€10 first deposit using Debit Card or Trustly. Place a bet of £10 at min odds of 1.5. Free bets expire in 90 days. Full T&Cs apply.
Claim Now
🔹 GET £30 IN BONUSES FOR FOOTBALL WHEN YOU BET £5! 🔹
18+ New customers only. Opt in, bet £5 at odds 2.00+ within 7 days of registering, no cashout. Get 2x £10 Free Bets, set events at odds 2.00+. Plus a £10 Slot Bonus, selected games, wager 20x to withdraw max £250. 7 day bonus expiry. Card payments only. T&Cs apply, see below. begambleaware.org | Please gamble responsibly
Claim Now
🟣 BET £10 & GET £60 FREE BETS FOR FOOTBALL! 🟣
New UK customers only. Register using the promo code BETFRED60, deposit and place first bet of £10+ on Sports (cumulative Evens+). First bet must be on Sports. £20 in Free Bets to be used on Sports, £10 in Free Bets to be used on Lotto and 50 Free Spins (20p per spin) credited within 48 hours of bet settlement. Further £20 in Free Bets credited 5 days after settlement. Bonuses have a 7-day expiry. Payment restrictions apply. SMS verification and/or Proof of I.D and address may be required. Full T&Cs apply.
Claim Now
🌟 GET A FREE BET UP TO £35 FOR FOOTBALL + 10 FREE SPINS 🌟
If your account has Sportsbook losses at the end of your first day's betting, QuinnBet will refund 50% of your losses as a Free Bet up to £35 (min 3 bets) Plus 10 Free online casino spins at QuinnCasino. Even if your account is up, you're guaranteed a £5 Free Bet Plus 10 Free Spins provided you place at least 1 bet of £10 or greater at the minimum odds. T&Cs apply | 18+ New UK Customers Only | BeGambleAware.org
Claim Now
🟢 UP TO £40 MONEY BACK AS BONUSES FOR FOOTBALL + A £10 CASINO BONUS 🟢
18+ begambleaware.org. New customers only. Min deposit £10. Money back as bonus if first sports bet loses. Wagering requirements: sportsbook 3x at min. odds of 1.40 (2/5), casino 50x. Unless forfeited the sportsbook bonus must be wagered before using the casino bonus. Bonus expires 7 days after opt-in. Visit Unibet.co.uk for full T&C's. #Ad
Claim Now
🎩 BET £5 ON FOOTBALL & GET £30 IN BONUSES! 🎩
18+ New customers only. Opt in and bet £5 on any football market at odds 2.00+ in 7 days. No cash out. Get 3x £10 football free bets for set events. Free bets expire in 7 days. Card payments only. T&Cs Apply. Begambleaware.org | Please gamble responsibly
Claim Now
🔵 BET £10 ON & GET £20 IN FREE BETS FOR FOOTBALL + ACCA REWARDS OF YOUR CHOICE! 🔵
New UK customers (Excluding NI) only. Mobile exclusive. Min stake £10. Min odds Evs. Free bet applied on 1st settlement of any qualifying bet. 30 days to qualify. Free bets expire in 7 days. Cashed out/Free Bets won’t apply. Payment method restrictions. 1 Free Bet offer per customer, household & IP Address only. 18+. T&C's Apply **18+. Choose either Boost or Insurance. Available for in-play/pre-match bets on selected sports. You cannot use specials, boosts, any free bet or any other promotion. A minimum of 5 selections and minimum odds of 1/5 per selection/leg to receive Acca Rewards. Minimum stake of £/€0.05. Max free bet refund of £/€20 per Acca for Insurance. Maximum bonus payout is €/£1,000 per Acca for boost. Free bets, cashed out or voided bets will not qualify for this promotion. T&Cs apply.
Claim Now
♥️ GET £40 FREE PLAY PLUS A £10 FREE SPORTS BET FOR FOOTBALL! ♥️
1st time depositors only. Min. deposit £10. Use code FAPOKER. Free Play given as cash, Spin & Go tickets, and a Sports Free Bet over 6 days. Tickets expire after 24 hours. Withdrawal restricted during bonus period. Terms apply.
Claim Now
🔵 GET £20 IN FREE BETS FOR FOOTBALL WHEN YOU BET £5! 🔵
18+ New UK & ROI Customers only. Min deposit £5. Min first £5 bet at minimum odds 1/2 to qualify for 1x 20 free bet. Certain deposit methods and bet types excl. Free bet valid for 7 days, stake not returned. Restrictions + T&Cs apply.
Claim Now
🔴 GET £20 IN FREE BETS FOR FOOTBALL WHEN YOU BET £5! 🔴
18+ New UK+IRE Customers only. Certain deposit methods & bet types excl. Min first £/€5 bet within 14 days of account reg at min odds 1/2 to get 4x £/€5 free bets. Free bets valid for 7 days, stake not returned. Restrictions + T&Cs apply.
Claim Now
🔷 GET £66 IN FREE BETS WHEN YOU BET £19 ON FOOTBALL 🔷
Full T&Cs Apply. New customers only. Stake min amount of £19 (odds 1.8 or greater) on any sporting event. Promotion available between 14/11/22 - 01/12/22. Max 4 x £10, 4 x £5, 1x £6 Free Bets credited on qualifying bet settlement on selected events. 1x claim per customer. Void, cashed out, partially cashed out bets do not qualify. Each Way bets, system bets and profit boost are not permitted for qualifying bet. Free bets are non-withdrawable & not returned with winnings. Free bets expire after 7 days of qualifying bet settlement. 18+ BeGambleAware.org.
Claim Now
👋 50% UP TO £50 WELCOME BONUS 👋
18+ begambleaware.org; New bettors get 50% of deposit up to £50; Once per household; Min deposit £15 (no Skrill/Neteller); Wager a total of 8 times deposit + bonus, with max qualifying bet stake equal to your initial bonus amount; Bonus expires after 60 days; Min odds of 4/5 on singles, or 2/5 per leg for acca; Some bet types excluded; See full terms; See full terms; Terms apply; 18+
Claim Now