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.

👌 MATCHED DEPOSIT UP TO £25! 👌
| New UK customers only | min bet £10 | match max £25 free bet | Min of 3 selections in accumulator | min odds per selection 7/10 (1.70) | Free bet stake not returned | Certain Markets/sports/payment methods restrictions apply | Qualifying bet must be made within 30 days | Free bet valid for 30 days | T&Cs Apply
Claim Bonus

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.

👌 MATCHED DEPOSIT UP TO £25! 👌
| New UK customers only | min bet £10 | match max £25 free bet | Min of 3 selections in accumulator | min odds per selection 7/10 (1.70) | Free bet stake not returned | Certain Markets/sports/payment methods restrictions apply | Qualifying bet must be made within 30 days | Free bet valid for 30 days | T&Cs Apply
Claim Bonus

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.

👌 MATCHED DEPOSIT UP TO £25! 👌
| New UK customers only | min bet £10 | match max £25 free bet | Min of 3 selections in accumulator | min odds per selection 7/10 (1.70) | Free bet stake not returned | Certain Markets/sports/payment methods restrictions apply | Qualifying bet must be made within 30 days | Free bet valid for 30 days | T&Cs Apply
Claim Bonus

Free Bets & Offers

🚀 Bet £5 Get £20 in Free Bets!
FIRST SINGLE & E/W BET ONLY. ODDS OF 1/1 OR GREATER. 2 X £10 BET TOKENS. FREE BET STAKES NOT INCLUDED IN RETURNS. FREE BETS ARE NON WITHDRAWABLE. NO FREE BET EXPIRY. ELIGIBILITY RESTRICTIONS. FURTHER T&CS APPLY. 18+. BEGAMBLEAWARE.ORG
Claim Bonus
⚡️Get up to £100 in Bet Credits⚡️
Up to £100 in Bet Credits for new customers at bet365. Min deposit £5. Bet Credits available for us upon settlement of bets to value of qualifying deposit. Min odds, bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. Time limits and T&Cs apply.
Claim Bonus
🏆 Get a RISK FREE bet on any sports market up to £20 - money back in CASH if it loses! 🏆
New customers only, limited to one per person. If you’ve previously had a Paddy Power account, you will not qualify for the offer. Place your FIRST bet on any Sportsbook market and if it loses we will refund your stake in CASH. Max refund for this offer is €/£20. Only deposits made using Cards or Paypal will qualify for this promotion. T&Cs apply. 18+|Gamble Aware.
Claim Bonus
GET A £20 RISK FREE FIRST BET!
New customers only. Sportsbook bets only, minimum odds 1/5 (1.2). Refunds are awarded as CASH, up to a max of £20 . Only deposits made using Cards or Paypal are eligible. Qualifying bet must be placed and settled within 30 days of account opening. T&Cs apply.
Claim Bonus
🌟 Bet £5 & Get £30 in Free Bets 🌟
New customers only. Deposit and place a £5 qualifying bet add odds of 2.00 or greater within 7 days of opening a new account; excludes cashed out bets. Receive 2x £10 free sports bets, valid on set events only at odds 2.00 or greater, expires in 7 days, plus a £10 casino bonus, expires in 7 days. Wager the casino bonus 35x to withdraw winnings. Credit/debit card deposits only. Geographical restrictions and T&Cs apply. Please gamble responsibly.
Claim Bonus
⚫️ £30 Welcome Offer! ⚫️
*New UK & Ireland customers only. Min Deposit: £10. First deposit matched up to £30. 1 x wagering at odds of 1.75+ to unlock Free Bet. Credit Card, Debit Card & PayPal deposits only. Full terms apply.
Claim Bonus
Bet £10, Get £20 In Free Bets
New members only. £10 min deposit and bet, placed and settled at 1.50 min odds within 14 days of sign-up. Awarded as 2x non-withdrawable £10 Free Bet Tokens. Valid for 14 days. Sportsbook only. Click for full rules.
Claim Bonus
Bet £10 on Football Get £40 in FREE BETS and BONUSES
New customers only. 18+, BeGambleAware.org. Minimum deposit £10. UK customers only. Place a £10+ bet on football of odds 1/1 (2.00) or greater to receive your 4x£10 in football free bets. Free bets will expire 7 days after your qualifying bet is settled. £10 Casino bonus will be credited the next working day after you have deposited. Casino bonus must be wagered at least 35x before any withdrawals can take place.
Claim Bonus
When The Fun Stops. Stop.