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Barnsley FC – 2013-2014 Championship season preview

Barnsley FC – 2013-2014 season preview:

New signings: Christian Dibble (Bury, free), Jean-Yves M’voto (Oldham, free), Lewin Nyatanga (Bristol City, free), Dale Jennings (Bayern Munich, undisclosed), John Cofie (Manchester United, free), Chris O’Grady (Sheffield Wednesday, undisclosed).

Christian Dibble: Son of Andy Dibble, the teenager has been signed as a back-up keeper, third in line behind number one Luke Steele and former Spurs stopper Ben Alnwick. Dibble turned down a new deal at Bury in order to join Barnsley this summer. Not expected to feature in the first team reckoning, unless he gets a run out in the League Cup.

Jean-Yves M’voto: Barnsley fans have been wanting the club to sign a big, strapping, no-nonsense centre-half for over three years – and now manager David Flitcroft looks to have got one! Frenchman M’voto is a 6ft 4in defender who left Oldham in the summer and looked set to join Doncaster Rovers until Barnsley came in at the 11th hour and captured the player on a two-year deal. Has impressed in the last two pre-season matches against Bordeaux and Rotherham United.

Lewin Nyatanga: Left relegated Bristol City in the summer and Barnsley supporters were delighted to see him return to Oakwell on a permanent basis. Welsh international Nyatanga spent three spells on loan with Barnsley over five years ago and did very well. He played in the 3-2 friendly win at Rotherham, which looked close to being a ‘full-strength’ side that could turn out against Wigan in the season curtain-raiser on August 3.

Dale Jennings: Big things are hoped for from this young winger, who arrived at Oakwell this summer from European champions Bayern Munich, for an undisclosed fee. Barnsley, then under manager Mark Robins, tried to sign Jennings when he was a 17-year-old at Tranmere Rovers, but saw him depart English shores for Germany. He impressed for Munich’s second string but could not force his way into the first team reckoning and Barnsley managed to beat off a stiff challenge from other clubs to bring him to Oakwell. He has not featured in all of the ‘first team’ pre-season games, and manager Flitcroft says he still needs to build up his ‘match fitness’.

John Cofie: The Manchester United striker spent spells on loan at the likes of Sheffield United and Bury last term and was perhaps a surprise addition to Flitcroft’s squad. But the Barnsley boss believes the young striker has ‘plenty of potential’. He is currently behind Chris O’Grady, Chris Dagnall and Jason Scotland in the striking pecking order.

Chris O’Grady: Signed from local rivals Sheffield Wednesday in the summer for an undisclosed fee, thought to be in the region of £275,000. Spent the latter half of last season on loan with Barnsley and scored 12 goals. He was a key figure in the Reds managing to avoid relegation with a terrific run-in, culminating in a dramatic final day 2-2 draw at Huddersfield which secured survival. O’Grady is seen as a bit of a talisman figure for the new season and his ‘little and large’ partnership with fellow forward Chris Dagnall has certainly blossomed in the last six months.

Departures: Lukas Lidakevicius (free agent), Stephen Foster (Tranmere, free), Rob Edwards (free agent) Matty Done (Rochdale, free), John Rooney (Bury, free), Toni Silva (free agent), Marlon Harewood (Bristol City, free).

None of the above departures have left Barnsley weak in any areas. Harewood’s better days are now firmly behind him, and he struggled to force his way past the likes of O’Grady, Scotland and Dagnall into one of the striking spots. He has signed for Bristol city after a successful trial. Matty Done had a very good first season with the club but last term was a big disappointment and after having a spell on loan with Hibernian he has now teamed back up with ex-Barnsley boss Keith Hill at Rochdale. Lithuanian under 20 international Lidakevicius did look to have some talent but did not want to be patient and rejected a new one-year contract in order to try and seek regular first team football.

There has been changes since the start of last season. Previous manager Keith Hill was sacked at the turn of the year and his assistant – and his ‘best pal in football’ – David Flitcroft was handed the reins, initially on a temporary basis.

Flitcroft fetched in former Fleetwood manager Micky Mellon and ex-Rotherham player Martin Scott as his new assistants but Barnsley first went for Sean O’Driscoll and then Terry Butcher as their new manager.

There was even strong rumours that former Barnsley ace Craig Hignett had been offered the job before Barnsley, with Flitcroft in caretaker charge, played brilliantly to beat Leeds United. After that Flitcroft was offered the job until the end of the season. He has since been given a rolling contract, so too Mellon and Scott, and optimism is very high.

The way Barnsley finished last season, with a strong focus on the team ethic and work-rate, is expected to carry on into this term. The team spirit that Flitcroft has engendered is terrific and although they may not have the ‘big names’ in their squad they make up for a lack of ‘financial muscle’ with a never-say-die, wholehearted approach.

Flitcroft got the team playing more attack-minded football, with less emphasis on ‘can we stop the opposition scoring’ to ‘what can we do to score against them’.

Barnsley finished just above the drop zone last term, and only managed to secure Championship survival on the very last day, with a dramatic 2-2 draw at Huddersfield. Up until Christmas the Reds were on the downward slope to League One. They didn’t play all that badly under manager Keith Hill, but wins were in short supply and Hill found himself axed. But Flitcroft inspired a sensational revival and the form the team showed after the New Year would have put them in the top eight.

2012 was consigned to being the club’s very own annus horribilis! The two main issues last term were:

1: Keith Hill’s relationship with the supporters, which often went sour because of Hill’s unflinching approach to talking about Barnsley’s struggle to compete financially with the other Championship clubs; and

2: the fact that club owner Patrick Cryne was absent from all of the games through illness and the fact that he and three other men were the subject of a multi-million pound fraud case brought by HMRC.

However, Flitcroft and his two assistants, Mellon and Scott, somehow managed to turn all that negativity around in the second half of the season.

Things have now taken on a very positive vibe at Oakwell. The court case against Cryne has collapsed and although he remains ill, he has rejuvenated things off the pitch by bringing in ex-Manchester United director Maurice Watkins as the club’s new director and football agent Ben Mansford as the new Chief Executive.

‘Excited’ and ‘optimistic’ are very much words being used by the Reds fanbase during the countdown to the new season. Barnsley may yet again find themselves tipped for the drop by every other ‘outside’ organisation, but inside the town there is a real mood of anticipation.

Flitcroft has made what on paper look very astute signings – and is still in the market for one more striker, with Hull’s Aaron McLean the latest link.

The Reds boss also managed to keep key players who were out of contract, performers like Steele, Cranie and Cywka.

Hassell signed a new one-year deal and will have a testimonial season. Fans firmly believe that the team will do far better this term and could even manage to finish in the top 12. A lot will demand on injuries, however. The club are still ‘financially small’ when compared to other Championship sides, so Flitcroft has had to ‘wheel and deal’ accordingly. When it was first mooted that Flitcroft would get the managerial job at Oakwell full-time a lot of the supporters were unhappy. They gladly hold their hands up now and say they made a mistake!

Scott Golbourne has come back from knee ligament damage, which kept him out for the last three months of last season, and has featured in all of the pre-season games. He looks fit and well. Teenager Paul Digby has also returned to fitness after missing the majority of last season with a knee injury. Unfortunately, midfielder Kelvin Etuhu, who played very well in the second half of last term, has tweaked a hamstring and will miss the start of the season. Homegrown teenage striker Danny Rose is also on the treatment table with an ankle problem.

Barnsley had a prize asset on their hands last season in teenage defender John Stones – and he was duly sold to Everton for £3m in January.

A player who is being tipped to be Barnsley’s next ‘big thing’ is midfielder Digby. The teenager, now back to fitness, has sparkled in pre-season – has just put pen to paper on a four-year contract extension – and could have a big say in Barnsley’s future.

Fellow midfielder Jacob Mellis is also tipped to impress, and could well hold the key to the club’s creativity this term.

Nineteen-years-old attacker Jordan Clark has joined Scunthorpe United on a month’s loan.

There is certainly a quiet confidence that Barnsley, despite the odds, will this time remain clear of any relegation dogfight. A top 12 finish is the aim but a seventh or eighth-from-bottom finish would be deemed acceptable, especially if the team adopt an attack-minded approach and do well in the local derbies against Sheffield Wednesday, Doncaster and Leeds United.

In their ‘official first team’ pre-season fixtures, Barnsley drew with Club Brugge and Wolves, lost to Bordeaux, and then beat Rotherham United 3-2 last Saturday.

Reds full squad:

Goalkeepers: Luke Steele, Ben Alnwick, Christian Dibble.

Defenders: Martin Cranie, Scott Wiseman, Jean-Yves M’voto, Lewin Nyatanga, Tom Kennedy, Scott Golbourne, Jimmy McNulty, Bobby Hassell, Andrai Jones.

Midfield/Attacking Midfield: Kelvin Etuhu, Stephen Dawson, David Perkins, Jacob Mellis, Dale Jennings, Tomasz Cywka, Jim O’Brien, Reuben Noble-Lazarus, Jordan Clark, Paul Digby, Sam Patterson, Dennis Knight.

Forwards: Chris O’Grady, Chris Dagnall, Jason Scotland, John Cofie, Danny Rose, Rhys Oates.

Here’s the ‘ins and outs’ at the other Championship clubs:

Birmingham City

In: Tom Adeyemi (Norwich, Free), Neil Eardley (Blackpool, Free), Matt Green (Mansfield, Free), Oliver Lee (Barnet, Free), Lee Novak (Huddersfield, Free), Darren Randolph (Motherwell, Free), Andrew Shinnie (Inverness, Free), Scott Allan (West Brom, Loan), Kyle Bartley (Swansea, Loan), Dan Burn (Fulham, Loan), Shane Ferguson (Newcastle, Loan).

Out: Curtis Davies (Hull, £2.25m), Nathan Redmond (Norwich, £2.2m rising to £3.2m), Steven Caldwell (Toronto, Free), Deqwon Ebanks (Tamworth, Free), Olly Grant (Barnet, Free), Fraser Kerr (Motherwell, Free), Akwasi Asante (Shrewsbury Town, Loan).

Released: Jack Deaman, Keith Fahey, Morgaro Gomis, Graham Hutchison, Pablo Ibanez, Adam Rooney.

Retired: Stephen Carr.

Blackburn Rovers

In: Steven Davies (Bristol City, £500,000), Devarn Green (Burton, Undisclosed), DJ Campbell (QPR, Free), Simon Eastwood (Portsmouth, Free), Alan Judge (Notts Co, Free), Matt Kilgallon (Sunderland, Free), Alex Marrow (Crystal Palace, Free), Chris Taylor (Millwall, Free), Todd Kane (Chelsea, Loan).

Out: Martin Olsson (Norwich, £2.5m), Chris Dilo (St Mirren, Free), Ashley Eastham (Rochdale, Free), Adam Evans (Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Free), David Goodwillie (Dundee United, Loan), Anton Forrester (Bury, Loan), Jack O’Connell (Rochdale, Loan), Ryan Edwards (Chesterfield, Loan).

Released: David Dunn, Micah Evans, Reece Hands, Ryan Humphreys, Danny Laverty, Jamie Maclaren, Osayamen Osawe, Peter Wylie.

Blackpool

In: Steven Davies (Bristol City, £500,000), Gary MacKenzie (MK Dons, Undisclosed), Bobby Grant (Rochdale, Undisclosed), Michael Chopra (Ipswich Town, Free).

Out: Alex Baptiste (Bolton, Free), Paul Bignot (Grimsby Town, Free), Matthew Challoner (Southport, Free), Stephen Crainey (Wigan, Free), Neil Eardley (Birmingham, Free), Ian Evatt (Chesterfield, Free), Kevin Phillips (Crystal Palace, Free).

Released: Alex Addai, Gerardo Bruna, Adda Djeziri, Ashley Eastham, Tiago Gomes, Elliot Grandin, Jamie Menagh, Curtis Thompson.

Bolton Wanderers

In: Robert Hall (West Ham, Compensation), Conor Wilkinson (Millwall, Compensation), Alex Baptiste (Blackpool, Free), Gary Fraser (Hamilton, Free), Marc Tierney (Norwich, Free), Hayden White (Sheffield Wednesday, Free), Jermaine Beckford (Leicester, Undisclosed).

Out: Marcos Alonso (Fiorentina, Free), Kevin Davies (Preston, Free), Rob Lainton (Bury, Free), Joe McKee (Greenock Morton, Free), Alex McQuade (Shrewsbury, Free), Sam Ricketts (Wolves, Free), Jack Sampson (Morecambe), Gary Fraser (Partick Thistle, Loan).

Released: Adam Blakeman, Ben Dennis, Ben Hampson, Lewis Fielding, Nuno Gomes, Greg Wylde.

Bournemouth

In: Mohamed Coulibaly (Grasshopper, Free), Ian Harte (Reading, Free), Elliott Ward (Norwich, Free), Andrew Surman (Norwich, Loan).

Out: Jonathan Meades (Oxford U, Free), Charlie Sheringham (AFC Wimbledon, Free), Dan Strugnell (Havant & Waterlooville, Free), Matt Tubbs (Rotherham, Loan).

Released: Mathieu Baudry, Warren Cummings, Jordan Seabright, Michael Symes, Lyle Taylor.

Retired: Steve Fletcher.

Brighton & Hove Albion

In: Rohan Ince (Chelsea, Free), Matthew Upson (Stoke, Free), Adam Chicksen (MK Dons, Undisclosed).

Out: Stephen Dobie (Crystal Palace, £850,000), Torbjorn Agdestein (Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Free), Anton Rodgers (Oldham, Free), Ryan Harley (Swindon Town, Free).

Released: Gary Dicker, Marcos Painter, Vicente.

Burnley

In: Alex Cisak (Oldham, Free), Tom Heaton (Bristol City, Free), Nick Liversedge (Whitby, Free), Joseph Mills (Reading, Free), Daniel Nizic (Sydney FC, Free), Ryan Noble (Burnley, Free), Scott Arfield (Huddersfield, Free).

Out: Lee Grant (Derby, Free), Wes Fletcher (York, Free), Chris McCann (Wigan, Free), Alex McDonald (Burton, Free), Shay McCartan (Accrington Stanley, Free), Martin Paterson (Huddersfield, Free), Chris Kettings (York, Loan), George Porter (AFC Wimbledon, Loan).

Released: Josef Jackson, Brian Jensen, Seamus McCartan, Jon Stewart, Aryn Williams.

Charlton Athletic

In: Mark Gower (Swansea, Free), Richard Wood (Coventry City, Free).

Out: Danny Haynes (Notts County, Free), John Sullivan (Portsmouth, Free), Scott Wagstaff (Bristol City, Free), Bradley Wright-Phillips (New York Red Bulls, Free), Michael Smith (AFC Wimbledon, Loan).

Released: Ricardo Fuller, Salim Kerkar, Yado Mambo, Matt Taylor, Scott Wagstaff.

Derby County

In: Johnny Russell (Dundee United, £700,000), Craig Forsyth (Watford, £150,000), Lee Grant (Burnley, Free), Chris Martin (Norwich, Free), Adam Smith (Tottenham, Loan).

Out: John Brayford (Cardiff City, £1.5m), Frank Fielding (Bristol City, £200,000), Gareth Roberts (Bury, Free), Ross Atkins (Alfreton Town, Loan).

Released: Luke Adams.

Doncaster Rovers

In: Harry Forrester (Brentford, Compensation), Marc De Val Fernandez (Real Madrid, Free), Mark Duffy (Scunthorpe United, Undisclosed), Luke McCullough (Manchester United, Free), Ross Turnbull (Chelsea, Free), Ritchie Wellens (Leicester, Free).

Out: None.

Released: Jordan Ball, Lee Fowler, Patrick Mullen, Gary Woods, Martin Woods.

Huddersfield Town

In: James Vaughan (Norwich, £1m), Jake Carroll (St Patrick’s Athletic, Undisclosed), Adam Hammill (Wolves, Undisclosed), Jonathan Hogg (Watford Undisclosed), Martin Paterson (Burnley, Free), Jon Stead (Bristol City, Free).

Out: Tom Clarke (Preston, Free), Lee Novak (Birmingham, Free), Chris Atkinson (Tranmere, Loan), Scott Arfield (Burnley, Free), Josh Windass (Accrington, Free).

Released: Alan Lee.

Ipswich Town

In: Jack Doherty (Waterford United, £50,000), Paul Anderson (Bristol City, Swap), Dean Gerken (Bristol City), David McGoldrick (Nottingham Forest, Free), Daryl Murphy (Celtic, Free), Cole Skuse (Bristol City, Free), Jay Tabb (Reading, Free), Frederic Veseli (Manchester United, Free), Christophe Berra (Wolves, Free), Jack Doherty (Waterford, Undisclosed), Ryan Tunnicliffe (Manchester United, Loan).

Out: Jay Emmanuel-Thomas (Bristol City, Swap), Andy Drury (Crawley, Free), Lee Martin (Millwall, Free), Gunnar Thorsteinsson (IBV, Free), Michael Chopra (Blackpool, Free).

Released: Jack Ainsley, Cormac Burke, Arran Lee-Barrett, Ronan Murray, Joe Whight.

Leeds United

In: Luke Murphy (Crewe, £1m), Matt Smith (Oldham, Free).

Out: Steve Morison (Millwall, Loan).

Released: Patrick Antelmi, Leigh Bromby, Paul Connolly, Monty Gimpel, Paddy Kisnorbo, Sanchez Payne, Jordan Snodin, Davide Somma.

Leicester City

In: Zoumana Bakayogo (Tranmere Rovers, Free).

Out: Joey Jones (Yeovil, Free), Jermaine Beckford (Bolton Wanderers, Undisclosed)

Released: Conor Brennan, Jide Maduako, Steven Smith, Karlton Watson.

Middlesbrough

In: Josef Varga (Debrecen, Loan), Dean Whitehead (Middlesbrough, Free).

Out: , Nicky Bailey (Millwall, Free), Scott McDonald (Millwall, Free), Stephen McManus (Motherwell, Free).

Released: Julio Arca, Nicky Baker, André Bikey, Curtis Edwards, Kyle Oliver, Paul Weldon.

Millwall

In: Stephen Bywater (Sheffield Wednesday, Free), Jermaine Easter (Crystal Palace, Free), Lee Martin (Ipswich, Free), Steve Morison (Leeds, Loan), Richard Chaplow (Southampton, Free), Nicky Bailey (Middlesbrough, Free), Scott McDonald (Middlesbrough, Free).

Out: Conor Wilkinson (Bolton, Compensation), Shaun Batt (Leyton Orient, Free), Steve Mildenhall (Bristol Rovers, Free), Tamika Mkandawire (Shrewsbury, Free), Chris Taylor (Blackburn, Free).

Released: Therry Racon, Maik Taylor.

Nottingham Forest

In: Djamel Abdoun (Olympiakos, £1.55m), Jamie Mackie (QPR, £1m), Jamie Paterson (Walsall, Undisclosed), Dorus De Vries (Wolves, Free), Gonzalo Jara Reyes (WBA, Free), Eric Lichaj (Aston Villa, Free), Jack Hobbs (Hull City, Loan), Djamel Abdoun (Olympiakos, £1.55m)

Out: David McGoldrick (Ipswich, Free), Lewis McGugan (Watford, Free), Matt Regan (Tamworth).

Released: Adam N’Kusu Landu.

Queens Park Rangers

In: Karl Henry (Wolves, £1m), Danny Simpson (Newcastle, Free), Richard Dunne (Aston Villa, Free).

Out: Christopher Samba (Anzhi Makhachkala, £12m), Jamie Mackie (Nottingham Forest, £1m), DJ Campbell (Blackburn, Free), Troy Hewitt (Walsall, Free)

Released: Tal Ben Haim, Jose Bosingwa, Jay Bothroyd, Radek Cerny, Djibril Cisse, Freddy Champion, Adam Francis, Roger Hewitt, Rob Hulse, Louis Parmenter, Tommase Trani.

Reading

In: Danny Williams (Hoffenheim, Undisclosed), Royston Drenthe (Alania Vladikavkaz, Free), Wayne Bridge (Manchester City, Free).

Out: Ian Harte (Bournemouth, Free), Noel Hunt (Leeds, Free), Uche Ikpeazu (Watford, Free), Jospeh Mills (Burnley, Free), Josh Sharma (Oxford United, Free), Jay Tabb (Ipswich, Free), Mikel Andersen (Randers, Loan), Michael Hector (Aberdeen, Loan), Nick Arnold (Wycombe, Loan).

Released: Nick Bignall, Simon Church, Charlie Losasso, Angus MacDonald, Alex Pearce, Nicky Shorey, Joshua Webb, Brett Williams.

Sheffield Wednesday

In: Jeremy Helan (Manchester City, Undsclosed), Jacques Maghoma (Burton, Free), Atdhe Nuhiu (Eskisehirspor), Kamil Zayatte (free).

Out: Stephen Bywater (Millwall, Free), Bastien Hery (Rochdale, Free), , Nicky Weaver (Aberdeen, Free), Hayden White (Bolton, Free).

Released: Julian Bennett, Matthew Fletcher, Harry Grant, Nejc Pecnik.

Watford

In: Daniel Pudil (Granada, Undisclosed), Uche Ikpeazu (Reading, Free), Lewis McGugan (Nottingham Forest, Free), Diego Fabbrini (Udinese, Free), Cristian Battocchio (Udinese, Free), Gabriele Angella (Udinese, Free), Almen Abdi (Udinese, Free), Reece Brown (Manchester United, Free), Ikechi Anya (Granada, Undisclosed), Iriney (Granada, Free), Joel Ekstrand (Udinese, Free), Carl Dickinson (Port Vale, Undisclosed).

Out: Craig Forsyth (Derby, £150,000), Carl Dickinson (Port Vale, Undisclosed), Jonathan Hogg (Huddersfield, Undisclosed), Jack Bonham (Brentford, Free), Chris Iwelumo (Scunthorpe, Free), Stephen McGinn (Sheffield United, Free), Mark Yeates (Bradford City, Free), Lee Hodson (MK Dons, Free)

Released: Jack Bonham, Prince Buaben, Stephen Hamilton-Forbes, Piero Mingoia.

Wigan Athletic

In: Grant Holt (Norwich, £2m), James Perch (Newcastle, £750,000), Scott Carson (Bursaspor, £700,000), Stephen Crainey (Blackpool, Free), Marc-Antoine Fortuné (West Bromwich Albion, Free), Juan Carlos Garcia (Olimpia, Free), Chris McCann (Burnley, Free), Thomas Rogne (Celtic, Free).

Out: Aroune Koné (Everton, £6m), Mauro Boselli (Leon, Undisclosed), Antolín Alcaraz (Everton, Free), Maynor Figueroa (Hull, Free).

Released: Peter Aylmer, Albert Crusat, Franco Di Santo, David Jones, Adrián López, Jonathan Lynch, Callum Morris, Filip Orsula, Ronnie Stam, Josh Sumner, Ryan Watson.

Yeovil Town

In: Kieffer Moore (Dorchester, Undisclosed), Liam Davis (Oxford United, Free), Joel Grant (Wycombe, Free), Sam Hoskins (Southampton, Free), Joey Jones (Leicester, Free), Michael Ngoo (Liverpool, Loan), Dan Seaborne (Southampton, Free), Alan Tate (Swansea City, Loan).

Out: Dominic Blizzard (Plymouth, Free), Richard Hinds (Bury, Free), Keanu Marsh-Brown (Barnet, Free).

Released: Gavin Williams.

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