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Season Preview 2020 – Part 1 06/09/2020

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.

Right.  Five years on.  I did pay attention after we got promoted, for a bit.  But then, you know, we stayed up and you kinda felt that should have been that and that should have been that and yet here we are.  We’ll get to that.  Anyway, the upshot is that I am less informed than I once was, so I’ve been looking at the opinions of people who ought to know what they’re talking about.  Four today, four tomorrow and so on…


INS: Dominik Frieser (LASK, Undisclosed); Kilian Ludewig (Red Bull Salzburg, Season Loan)

OUTS: Cameron McGeehan (KV Oostende, Undisclosed); Mallik Wilks (Hull City, Undisclosed); Jordan Barnett (Oldham Athletic, Free); Samuel Radlinger (SV Ried, Free); Toby Sibbick (KV Oostende, Season Loan); Kenny Dougall; Dani Pinillos; Mamdou Thiam; Jordan Green (Southend United, Six Month Loan)


THEIR EX-ORNS: Martin Devaney (U23s Head Coach)


2013-14 3-0
2012-13 4-1 0-1
2011-12 2-1 1-1
2010-11 1-0
2009-10 1-0
2008-09 1-1 1-2
2007-08 0-3
2001-02 3-0 0-2
2000-01 1-0 1-0
1998-99 0-0 2-2


Sollbauer        Andersen          J.Williams
Ludewig         Mowatt         Oduor             Styles
Brown               Chaplin

BLUFFER’S GUIDE: Barnsley have been promoted to the Championship twice and relegated out of it once since we were last in the division five years ago.  It was very nearly two relegations… the Tykes dropped into the relegation zone in mid-September last season and only vacated it on the final day and then with the help of Wigan’s points penalty being confirmed.

Key in the Tykes’ revival was Austrian head coach Gerhard Struber, who replaced the sacked Daniel Stendel in October.  He has introduced a flexible but typically high-pressing style and was, according to rumour, Vladimir Ivić’s main competition for our head coach role in the summer. He’s talked of needing to bring in new players, his sort of players, but has already added three Austrians at the time of writing – centre-back Michael Sollbauer and midfielder Marcel Ritzmaier in January, and winger Dominik Frieser in this transfer window.

Key men include skipper Alex Mowatt and forward Cauley Woodrow, though the latter hasn’t flourished under Struber having often been fielded in a link-role between the midfield and the forwards.  Given the direction of travel you’d fancy Barnsley to be a little less precarious this time around, but there are problems off the field;  disagreements between shareholders are yielding suggestions of legal action, no-nonsense defender Bambo Diaby remains under suspension following a protracted investigation into a doping allegation and Welsh wing-back Ben Williams has upset transfer plans, as constipated at Oakwell as everywhere else, by suffering an ACL injury that will keep him out for much of the season.

Candidates for relegation then, but Struber looks like a trump card for as long as Barnsley hang onto him.


INS: Jonathan Leko (West Bromwich Albion, £1,000,000); Adam Clayton (Middlesbrough, Free); George Friend (Middlesbrough, Free); Andres Prieto (Espanyol, Free); Iván Sánchez (Elche, Free); Jon Tural (Hull City, Free)

OUTS: Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund, £20,700,000); Álvaro Giménez (Cádiz, £2,400,000); Wes Harding (Rotherham United, Undisclosed); Kerim Mrbati (KV Mechelen, Free); Corey O’Keeffe (Mansfield Town, Free); Jonathan Grounds; Cheick Keita; Jacques Maghoma; David Stockdale; Remeao Hutton (Stevenage, Season Loan); Connal Trueman (AFC Wimbledon, Season Loan); Fran Villalba (Almeria, Season Loan); Craig Gardner (retired)

OUR EX-BLUES: Ben Foster, Jerome Sinclair

THEIR EX-ORNS: Josh McEachran


2014-15 1-0
2013-14 1-0
2012-13 2-0
2011-12 2-2
2008-09 0-1
2001-02 3-3 2-3
2000-01 2-0 0-2
1999-00 0-1
1998-99 1-1 2-1 1-0 / 0-1
1995-96 1-1 0-1
1983-84 3-1


Colin                    Dean         Friend             Pedersen
Clayton        Sunjic
Bela               Crowley          Sánchez

BLUFFER’S GUIDE: The last four seasons have seen the Blues finish between 17th and 20th in the Championship, under the guidance of six different managers.  Far be it for us to comment on such an atrocity of course, but the advent of a high profile seventh has led to some rare optimism in the West Midlands.

Áitor Karanka is the man, an old adversary from our last time in the Championship who has already brought George Friend and Adam Clayton in from his former charges.  Karanka isn’t known for his free-scoring sides of course, and the paucity of striking options is a real issue at the time of writing.  Nonetheless, the sale of prodigy Jude Bellingham to Dortmund is helping fund a strengthening of the squad.  This might lead to City pushing a bit higher up the table this time around, but mid-table would still be a result you suspect.


INS: Thomas Kaminski (KAA Gent, Undisclosed)

OUTS: Matty Platt (Barrow, Undisclosed); Jack Evans (Forest Green Rovers, Free); Richard Smallwood (Hull City, Free); Danny Graham; Sam Hart; Jayson Leutwiler; Dominic Samuel; Tom White (Bolton Wanderers, Season Loan)




2014-15 1-0
2013-14 3-3
2012-13 4-0
2000-01 0-1 4-3
1995-96 1-2


Nyambe          Lenihan        Wharton         Bell
Dack        Johnson       Evans
Gallagher         Brereton           Armstrong

BLUFFER’S GUIDE: Since we last met Rovers have dropped into the third tier for the first time since 1980 (which is when football started as far as I’m concerned, so part of my brain still lodges them as a third tier club) but bounced back at the first time of asking.  Otherwise they’ve been settled in lower mid-table for the most part with a squad to match.  Tony Mowbray has been in charge since 2017 and his grim, determined visage is kind of fitting for a side who have enough about them to stay clear of trouble but not enough resources to trouble the top of the table.

A bad season with injuries might see them struggle, and this seems more likely than a promotion push with a prevailing wind.  The side has bits that are strong and bits that need patching up – Rovers have a couple of highly rated defenders in Irish stopper Darragh Lenihan and Namibian right-back Ryan Nyambe, but the team as a whole does better going forwards than backwards and this seems likely to continue, although at the time of writing the number of attacking options has been reduced by the departures of Dominic Samuel and veteran Danny Graham who joined Rovers at the age of 30 but managed 57 goals for the Lancashire club.  Inconspicuously bottom half would be my best bet, but a massive margin of error on all predictions this season for obvious reasons.



INS: None

OUTS: Nathan Aké (Manchester City, £40,700,000), Aaron Ramsdale (Sheffield United, £18,500,000); Matt Butcher (Accrington Stanley, Undisclosed); Shaun Hobson (Southend United, Undisclosed); Artur Boruc (Legia Warsaw, Free), Jermain Defoe (Rangers, Free); Charlie Daniels, Simon Francis, Ryan Fraser, Jordan Ibe, Brad Smith, Andrew Surman; Tyler Cordner (Scunthorpe United, Season Loan)




2019-20 0-0
2018-19 0-4
2017-18 2-2
2016-17 2-2
2015-16 1-1  1-1
2014-15 1-1
2013-14 6-1 2-0
2003-04 1-0
1997-98 2-1 1-0
1996-97 0-1 2-1
1995-96 1-1


Smith          S.Cook               Kelly         Rico
Brooks         L.Cook           Lerma           Stanislas
Solanke         Wilson

VERDICT: So this may come as a shock, but there are one or two similarities between our position and Bournemouth’s once again. Yes, really.

Both, most obviously, relegated from the top flight with squads that might reasonably have expected not to have been.  Both had injury situations that contributed significantly to said state of affairs.  Both are left with talented squads that might not be entirely suited for the Championship and are frantically playing the juggling, plate-spinning game of working out who wants to leave, who they can afford to keep and who they can get how much cash in for.  And both will be starting the season under new management.

Here, perhaps, the similarities end.  Eddie Howe had been at the club a very long time, and whilst Jason Tindall might represent a degree of continuity he’s also on a very sticky wicket… needing to replace a hugely successful figure but tweak the things that got Bournemouth relegated in the first place.  Another big difference is in the wage bill, an issue for any relegated club notwithstanding parachute payments, but the Cherries’ wage bill-to-income ratio was rumoured to be eye-wateringly high in the Premier League, much higher than ours.  A different degree of urgency to get back up again, one wonders whether they’ll be tempted to stick everything on black and try to get back up first time at all costs (and high risks).

At the time of writing, whilst crown jewel Aké has gone along with Ramsdale, who leaves an open question in the goalkeeping department and a number of senior players have left at the end of their contracts but Wilson, King, Lerma and the semi-ostracised Begovic are amongst those who remain on big salaries, and whilst the Cherries have picked up a couple of tidy looking youngsters in the likes of Kelly, Stacey and Mepham their transfer record in the Premier League was not the source of particular admiration.

Bournemouth will be top half.  Quite how much higher than that remains to be seen.  Won’t be dull.


1. Andrew Hinds (@andrewhinds) - 06/09/2020

You may be less informed than you were, but you are still invariably far more informed than me (I suspect I’m not alone in this). This is a massive job to take on but it’s always a great read, so many thanks as ever for doing it.

Matt Rowson - 06/09/2020

😊. every year I think “can I be bothered… nobody reads it”. And yet here we are…

Keith Endean - 06/09/2020

Never think nobody reads your writings, bhappy always my first port of call before the official website.
From your friendly report on the subject of the club being fair. They will never be able to get it Right for everyone. As we enter my 50th year of supporting Watford I will still be near the bottom of the pile due to living in Sheffield and being a nurse working 2 weekends in 4. But then again if I get to 2-3 matches I will have been to the same as quite a few of seasons. Why Sheffield Wednesday 2nd match of the season we miss a family day out (opposite ends of the ground). I guess life is never fair.

David Wray - 07/09/2020

Matt I love reading these reports as an aperitif for the upcoming season.
One trouble this year I expect will be the volume of transfers yet to happen including ours of course.

Matt Rowson - 07/09/2020

Thanks David. You’re right of course. I’m looking at the transfer window situation as further legitimising my lack of ability to make any kind of call… a blessing in disguise

Kris - 08/09/2020

Oh never ever assume no one reads these. It is the foundation on which I build my interest in the league. I read these religiously and with great pleasure. I revisit them during the season whenever we meet opponents I don’t know well. I know it is a massive undertaking but do not doubt these are greatly appreciated!

2. Tadcaster Hornet - 06/09/2020

Every year I read it and really enjoy it. We are all very grateful to you sir.

Sequel - 06/09/2020

Hear, hear!

3. Will Rowson - 06/09/2020

Excellent stuff. Makes me nostalgic for Louis-Jean and Trix Langley. Did you know Cauley Woodrow is Martin Patching’s son?

Matt Rowson - 06/09/2020

No. Jesus.this changes everything

Will Rowson - 06/09/2020

I know right. Everything else is a footnote.

4. Roger Boon (Hopemole) - 07/09/2020

Never miss reading your stuff. Always balanced,insightful and highly articulate. Thank you so much.Be encouraged.You have always been very good at this. A regular Ollie Philips. The Wobby desperately needs you!

5. Dee - 08/09/2020

I know very very little about the Championship teams, so thank you very very much for writing this. Good read. Thanks!

6. Jeff Lloyd - 08/09/2020

Nice stuff Matt. I’m not a massive punter but enjoy a dabble at the start of a season. It’s only once paid off and spectacularly so when Sunderland were relegated from the Prem and were 50/1 to be bottom and 14/1 to be relegated. I had £10 on each and an still writing below the line on the back of it! My slightly laboured point is that I see a striking similarity with Bournemouth’s departures to Sunderland’s. Sunderland sold Pickford, Lens and Defoe and wondered why they couldn’t save a goal, win a tackle or score. Which to my eye is what selling Ramsdale Ake and Wilson might mean to Bournemouth. Sunderland built their team round John O’Shea. Simon Francis anyone?

7. Christopher Westcott - 09/09/2020

Agree with many others, your articles are always essential reading Matt, thanks for the time you invest to inform and entertain us.

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