This season’s Championship is turning out to be thrilling at both ends of the table. We’re approaching the festive season when the fixture list is jam-packed, and teams are looking to get points on the board – some more than others. The Championship odds from Paddy Power may look quite promising for those at the top but for the likes of Barnsley, Luton Town, Wigan Athletic, and Middlesbrough, they make for grim reading. The four clubs are the current outright favourites for relegation, but with three places in the drop zone, it’s all to play for.
Barnsley currently occupy the foot of the table, having won one game all season – and that was their opening fixture at home to Fulham. A run of 10 games without a win was enough to see manager Daniel Stendel sacked, and his caretaker replacement Adam Murray faces a huge challenge. Three draws and two losses from his first five matches in charge, with the most recent a 4-2 defeat at home to bottom club Stoke City, sees the Tykes prop up the division. Although five points separate them from Luton in 21st, you can’t help but wonder when or where those much-needed wins will come from.
Dumped out of the EFL Cup first round to League One Carlisle United was bad enough, but of greater concern is their league form. Their goal difference currently stands at -17, after conceding 33 so far. They are the second-lowest scorers in the division, averaging a goal per game. By the law of averages, Barnsley could well finish on as little as 26 points, although the Tykes’ fanbase will be hoping their fortunes turn around sharpish.
— Barnsley FC (@BarnsleyFC) November 9, 2019
They were last relegated from English football’s second-tier in 2018 after finishing 22nd with 41 points. Last season, they immediately bounced back, finishing second in League One to gain automatic promotion. Over the last few years, Barnsley have been somewhat of a yo-yo club. They faced relegation from the Championship in 2013-14 before winning the League One play-offs two seasons later.
Comparisons can be made between Barnsley and their neighbours Rotherham United. The Millers are as famous for their double promotion from League Two to the Championship in as many seasons, under the guidance of Steve Evans, as they are for flitting between the divisions. The 2004-05 season saw the club relegated from the Championship with a dismal 29 points, a feat they’ve recently managed to better. The 2016-17 campaign was definitely one to forget – with just five wins under their belt, Rotherham finished the season on 23 points – a record low. After immediately bouncing back to the second tier, the club was relegated again last season and currently occupy 10th place in League One.
The chopping and changing of managers within both clubs has been a major factor for their unrest and instability. To a certain extent, Murray has steadied the ship at Oakwell. Barnsley have amassed three points from five games and are scoring goals, but not nearly enough to win matches.
With the international break looming, Murray will be expecting clarity on his position. He told the Yorkshire Post: “My aim when I took over was to make sure the group was in a better place for whenever that decision was made. Whether that is a new manager coming in or an in-house appointment, it does not really matter either way to me.
“My target was to settle the group and I think we have done that and we are in a good place. As far as I am concerned, I have achieved the remit I was challenged with. The club will do whatever they think is best and I will be happy with their decision either way.”
With less than two weeks until Barnsley’s next clash against 18th-placed Blackburn Rovers, who will be the next permanent manager? Will they turn the club’s misfortunes around, or will the Tykes be another mere Championship statistic?