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 climb off the bottom of the Championship with a noteworthy win over Leeds under the guidance of caretaker boss David Flitcroft…..
It was just like being in a bee-hive in the East Stand for the derby game against Leeds – everyone was buzzing!
What a performance! There was skill, application, positivity, teamwork and the legendary fighting spirit of the old battling Barnsley days. Who needs a ‘name’ manager if they can keep playing like this for Flitcroft? The players couldn’t have done more.
We never let Leeds settle and we could – perhaps should – have been in the lead by half-time. The worry was that it was still 0-0 and that worry grew as Leeds seemed to come more into it after making substitutions at the start of the second period, but thankfully our lads kept going right to the end and the goals eventually came.
And what can you say about Chris Dagnall. He was here, there and everywhere, but, no matter how hard he tried he was unable to find the net – as usual. ‘He’ll never score’ most people were saying. And it was beginning to look that way. It’s been the same match after match. Tons of effort but useless when it comes to finishing. It must have been preying on his mind as well.
What guts then, for him to insist on taking the penalty after he had been brought down in the box. Just imagine the reaction if he had missed it! But he didn’t miss it. As everybody round us, hearts in mouths, stood up to watch – and that’s unusual – he rammed it home. And that seemed to inject in him the confidence that had previously been missing because he went on to score a superb second to clinch a great derby win. He was a very deserving man of the match.
It did occur to us that under Keith Hill he might well have been substituted before the penalty opportunity. and something else that was different from the last few months of Hill’s reign was that the players seemed to be more aware of each other and what they were doing. There was much more cohesion and understanding – and the new system that Flitcroft has introduced has made us much more positive without reverting to the aimless long ball.
The defence was much more solid – a fact emphasised by two successive clean sheets – and who needs Davies in attack? This was the first time this season that we had scored more than one goal in a home game.
It was very, very encouraging and it will surely be very difficult, after a performance like this, not to give the manager’s job to Flicker – at least until the end of the season.
It was obvious from their reaction at the end of the game that this win meant a lot to the players and they are clearly backing the caretaker manager to the hilt.
So why had we been playing so badly for so long before Hill’s sacking? On the evidence of the last three games, when Flitcroft has been in charge, it must have been our ex-manager who was to blame for the slide to the bottom of the Championship table.
Suddenly the gloom has been lifted and we are all more hopeful again.
Saturday’s win was, of course, all the more satisfying because it was Leeds who were on the receiving end, and it was very gratifying for us to hear the United fans chanting ‘Warnock, Warnock, time to go.’ Maybe they’ll be looking for a new manager at Elland Road before long…
So how about us? Plenty of speculation surrounding the managerial situation, but no statement from the club. It does seem as though they’ve messed up good and proper so far. Two men who were, apparently, not on the short list for the job, have been approached and turned us down, and suddenly there’s even talk of the Academy coach being appointed. So what do those on the short list think about all that? Not a lot, we’ll wager.
The general consensus around us on Saturday was ‘go for Flitcroft’. You could spend a fortune on a new boss and there would be no guarantee that he could save us from the drop. In any case, a new man would inevitably want to change things, and the last thing we want right now is upheaval.
As things stand you can’t fault the players for commitment, desire and the end product. Against Leeds there was an obvious sense of togetherness and solidarity amongst players and coaching staff – and we in the East Stand felt a part of it, too. We had got to the stage where we could hardly be bothered coming to matches. Now we can’t wait for the next one.