Forget Albert Square, Oakwell is the only place to be for our exclusive take on Barnsley FC, from the fans who take their seat in the stands to cheer on the Reds. Here is the latest instalment – as Barnsley are not only beaten by Blackburn but also lose their manger in the process. Oh, and end 2012 at the bottom of the Championship….
For East-Standers read Can’t-Standers. That’s what we were thinking at the end of the Blackburn game. We felt we simply couldn’t stand much more of this. In fact, if we hadn’t paid for a season ticket we wouldn’t be still going.
We had suffered yet another miserable afternoon and when Blackburn’s third goal went in that was it as far as we were concerned. We can’t score two at home, never mind three, so we made good our escape to what was already an almost deserted car park. Many people had beaten us to it.
We got home, had a bite to eat and settled down to watch the telly – and then we had a phone call telling us that Keith Hill had been sacked. It hardly came as a surprise. The Board must have realised that they had to act before it was too late. And maybe it already is. Quite honestly we can’t see anyone turning this situation round. We reckon we’re as good as down.
So where do we go from here? Who would want to come to this club knowing the situation we are in, with no money to spend and relegation just about nailed on. Sean O’Driscoll? Possibly. Phil Brown? Hope not. Nicky Barmby? Doesn’t fill you with excitement and anticipation does it? And what about Flicker? Will he stay or follow his pal out of the club? We wait with bated breath.
Maybe the only chance is for us to discover a bright young coach eager to get on the managerial merry-go-round. Whoever it is we hope that he takes a good look at his players, decides which is his best eleven, and then sticks with them – because tinkering with the team was Hill’s biggest fault.
Take his last game in charge as a prime example. Okay, the Reds had been beaten at home by Birmingham City on Boxing Day, but they had played some of their best football of the season; only the end product was lacking, as usual. Hassell had been drafted back into the side and did well; Dagnall, for all his limitations in front of goal, ran his socks off; Stones was solid at right-back; and Greening, who scored our goal, was the man of the match.
So what happens against managerless Blackburn? Hassell, Stones and Greening are all on the bench and Dagnall can’t even make it as one of the 18 players on duty. What’s the crack? What’s going on? That was the heated topic of conversation at half-time.
Nobody in the East Stand could understand Hill’s selection process. Did he put all the numbers in a hat before kick-off and drawn them out one by one? It seemed like it. In fact, one wag suggested that the pre-match huddle was for the players to introduce themselves to each other. They certainly played like passing strangers most of the time.
You cannot expect individual players to gel into a team if you are making three or four changes every week. You don’t need 11 brilliant players, but you do need 11 players who pull together as a team, and you can’t achieve that if you’re chopping and changing all the time. And Hill just didn’t seem to understand that.
What must the players themselves have thought when they had a really good game yet found themselves left out of the starting line-up the following week?
It was the same old sorry story against Rovers. For 20 minutes we flattered to deceive with good possession football but no pace and no penetration. We still can’t defend, either, with far too many individual errors. Isn’t that right, Mr Wiseman?
Blackburn didn’t have an attempt at goal until they scored, but they were always purposeful on the break and they had pace which left our players trailing in their wake. We never seem to have anybody in the right place at the right time, either. When he went on as sub Noble Lazarus put in some good crosses, but there was no-one there to take advantage of them.
And what’s happened to Davies? Two young lads behind us thought he was a god early in the season. Now they think he’s rubbish. What’s gone wrong?
With the way we have been playing; the mistakes that have been made; the results that we have had; it was inevitable that Hill would be on his bike. Maybe he realised that as well, because for the last two matches his body language has been totally negative. He has just sat there in the dug-out, leaving Flitcroft to do all the shouting and cajoling from the touchline.
It had got so bad recently that we had taken to having a shot of morphine with our half-time coffee to ease the pain.
We were expecting to pick up the papers and read about Hill coming up with his usual excuses when he talked to the Press after the game. Obviously he has now run out of them.