Thursday, 23 October 2014
The Inside Line: Barnsley v Bristol City (25/10/2014)
“If you wanna be the best, if you wanna beat the best, oh-oh dedication’s what you need”
The Bristol City class of 2014-15 wrote their own piece of history on Tuesday night when their draw against Bradford meant that a club record that had lasted exactly sixty years had been broken, and we had gone 14 matches unbeaten from the start of a season. To put that in context, it’s nearly one-third of the way through the season – a quite remarkable achievement which glossed over some of the disappointment in ‘only’ gaining a point on a windy night in BS3.
The record-breakers take their status on the road again this weekend to Oakwell, home of Barnsley, who have the son of an ex-City striking legend and an ex-City manager looking to put one over on the Robins.
“My beloved Barnsley FC. Relegated last season, currently hovering above another relegation zone and shipping goals for fun - I shouldn't really be enjoying all this. But I am. Obviously, the losing games bit and conceding goals part I don't take much pleasure from, but I genuinely am enjoying season 2014-15.
You see, it's been an absolute chore for large parts of the last eight years in the Championship. Most seasons merging into each other, such was the similarity of events. Lose your star players on the cheap, good form goes out the (January) window with them, recruit short term loanees, limp to safety by a few points. Repeat over the next 12 months and so on. Not to forget the changing of managers or indeed, the odd FA Cup run. It wasn't all bad. Just 90% of it. Probably.
After the almost Roy of the Rovers style 'Great Escape' of 2012-13, masterminded by cliché ridden young manager David Flitcroft, we went into last term with rare optimism. We assumed we'd stumbled upon a good manager at last. Ok, he talked a lot of nonsense, but his record since taking charge was phenomenal. Perhaps we'd finally push on in the second tier and reclaim our status as something better than perennial relegation battlers?
Perhaps not. I think we won just one of our first 18 games and the team didn't resemble anything like the one 'Flicker' guided to safety just a few months before. He was sacked, and after a month of deliberation we got the second coming of club legend, one Danny Wilson. The original miracle worker. If anybody could transform our fortunes it was 'r Danny'....
He did improve us. But hardly. His January loan and free transfer recruits were on paper exciting, a touch risky but gambling had to be done. Unfortunately, we backed the wrong horses. In fact, a horse would have made a better impact than the likes of Brek Shea, Martin Woods and Emmanuel Frimpong.
But, I welcomed the eventual relegation. We could hopefully get shot of the deadwood letting us down, allow Danny to assemble his own squad and look forward to finally competing in a division which is less about how much money you've got and more about team spirit. And if any Barnsley manager has ever cobbled together a squad brimming with enthusiasm and pride in the red shirt, it's 'r Danny'.
Unfortunately, getting shot of the deadwood might have been easy, but we soon realised that a few of our best players would have to be flogged too. And it took so long to get both Luke Steele and Chris O'Grady off the wage bill that our own recruitment drive didn't really kick into gear until a week or so before the big kick off. Our pre-season 'tour' of Italy comprised of about 18 academy lads. We just didn't have the players.
And so it's no surprise what has happened so far this season. We're up and down like a yo-yo. No consistency. Fair to middling.
We've definitely signed a few promising young players though. Conor Hourihane is some player. Scored seven goals, created another seven and involved in all the rest. Probably. Luke Berry, signed from Cambridge, a little midfield dynamo, he's impressed me. And despite the goals not quite arriving for him, Sam Winnall has been a great addition up front.
The revelation though at present, is his strike partner, the son of Andy - Devante Cole. On loan from Manchester City and far too good for this division. He's very green, very raw, but has explosive pace and an eye for goal. His father is at every game, home and away, and so keep your eyes out (Robins fans travelling up on Saturday) for your former hero.
Andy Cole (here wearing the now-famous #PurpleandLime) struck up a
fantastic, exciting partnership with cult hero 'Jacki' Dziekanowski (below) in
the early 90's before moving to Kevin Keegan's Newcastle United
As I say, we're inconsistent. So I couldn't begin to tell you what to look out for or our strengths and weaknesses. But in a nutshell, we're a threat going forward and wide open defensively.
I have Bristol City down to win the title, and so far it's looking likely. It seems Mr Lansdown has spent a few pennies again. But it's nailed on that Leroy Lita will finally get off his lazy backside and come back to haunt his former side. Isn't it? Probably.
Danny Wilson got City to the play-off final in Cardiff in 2004, but famously
left Leroy Lita out and we lost 1-0 to a Leon Knight goal, for Brighton
Unless you beat us comfortably. Like everybody else at Oakwell. Probably.”
My thanks to Andy and to Stu for setting up the response.
Slightly ironic that we face a team managed by Danny Wilson who might have Leroy Lita to call on, given events in Cardiff http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/eng_div_2/3750777.stm a decade ago!
Here’s to 15. COYR!
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