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Dan - Barnsley FC; Leicester City FC

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2016 / 17 - 10th in Championship.

2017 / 18 - 6th in Championship. Lost in play-off final to QPR.

2018 / 19 - 3rd in Championship. Won play-offs.

2019 / 20 - 17th in Premier League.

2020 / 21 - 12th in Premier League.

 

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2021 / 22 - 7th in Premier League.

2022 / 23 - 8th in Premier League.

Edited by Dan

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The Intro:
I have struggled at 17. It's quite well documented here, but I have not hit the ground running. I had a save with Honved and a save with Bochum, I got bored of the former and got sacked in the latter. I thought it was a shame at Bochum as it felt things were slowly on the up, but not at the rate the chairman wanted. I wanted a similar sort of game, but I don't like going for the same league twice in a row so I picked the league I felt was most similar to the 2.Bundesliga, and what do you know? I'm back in the league I spent the majority of my footballing 'education' in. The Championship. Seeing as we're doing throwbacks, lets go for the club that has given me some of my finest footballing memories. I have had some superb days at Barnsley, lets give some back to them.

This is by no means an easy save. It's probably a bit insane of me to jump into a save like this when I'm struggling, but maybe the potential of not losing my job will help things. I am predicted to finish 23rd in the table, but I see a squad that's capable of a bit more than that. Saying that, survival is the aim this year, and I want to gradually build this team up and eventually get promoted. I want to be up in 4 seasons.

There is actually a bit of money at Barnsley. Nothing significant, but it's enough to really sustain yourself given the money they have taken in for the likes of Stones, Mawson and Holgate - which takes me onto their academy, they're a club who have a focus on this area and that's something anyone who reads my stuff on here knows I like. I do intend to produce players from the academy effectively. It's about survival this year though, and we crack on from there.

 

Transfer business:
Ins:
Harry Pickering (Crewe, £105k) - Young winger signed by head of youth recruitment.
Michael Essien (free) - Solid and experienced, still has something to offer at this level.
Theo Pellenard (Bordeaux, £225k) - 22 year old left back transfer listed, looked a tidy player to me so in he came.
Stephen Quinn (Reading, £575k) - Another experienced and versatile player, an upgrade on what we already have.

Outs:
-

 

Results - AUG 2016
CH 1 - Ipswich (a) - A poor start. We're beaten 1-0 with a second half goal and really, it ought to have been more.
LC 1 - Notts County (a) - A resounding 0-3 victory, despite the weak opposition I was quite impressed.
CH 2 - Derby (h) - Took the lead but lost it with two late goals, very disappointing.
CH 3 - QPR (h) - Really turned it on here and won the game 3-0. The pairing of Watkins and Bradshaw looking very dangerous.
CH 4 - Huddersfield (a) - Horrendous, a Huddersfield side without a point beat us 4-1.
LC 2 - Hull (h)- A poor performance, a late-ish Hull goal, an even later equaliser, an even later Hull goal. Out the cup. Not good.
CH 5 - Rotherham (h) - We were the dominant side, but drew on paper our easiest game of the season 0-0. A really poor result. A poor start all in all.

SEP 2016
CH 6 - Preston (a) - A surprise victory. We took the lead early on and Preston went down to ten. We doubled the lead in the second half, conceded a consolation at the end but held on for a very decent win on the road.
CH 7 - Wolves (a) - Once again we took the lead, but we ended up on the end of a 2-1 this time, a late Cavaleiro 30 yarder doing the damage. I can't really blame anyone for this, we expected to lose and fell victim to some top quality which I simply don't have.
CH 8 - Reading (h) - An absolutely atrocious performance and how we only lost 0-1 I will never know. 0-5 wouldn't have been unfair.
CH 9 - Brighton (a) - Preston all over again, expected to be rolled over but we turned in a very decent performance and picked up a surprise 1-2 victory. Great stuff.
CH 10 - Aston Villa (h) - Expected to lose but didn't. Very open game which we threw away late on and drew 1-1. Not too bad a result though.

OCT 2016
CH 11 - Leeds (a) - A similar game to the Villa one, fully expected a defeat but it never came. It ended 2-2, another good result on the road.
CH 12 - Fulham (h) - Yet again a draw from a game I expected to lose, a late Bradshaw goal rescued a 1-1 draw.
CH 13 - Newcastle (h) - Our run of surprise draws was over in the cruelest way as Dwight Gayle scored a magnificent solo effort in injury time to give the Geordies a 0-1 win.
CH 14 - Brentford (a) - An absolutely mental game. We went 2-0 down after 9 minutes and could quite easily have been 5 down by half an hour, it was like we were playing Bayern. Pellenard then got a straight red and they added a third. This could easily be a cricket score. Incredibly, my 3-4-2 formation totally unsettled Brentford and against all odds we got the game back to 3-3, only for Brentford to pinch it with 5 minutes left. Quite a recovery in the circumstances, but ultimately a fruitless game.
CH 15 - Bristol City (h) - Needed to win for me. Didn't. 0-2 down very early on, but did come back and salvage a draw late on. Mixed feelings, but that's 6 without a win now.

NOV 2016
CH 16 - Burton (a) - A very good chance of a victory blown in abject fashion. Burton even gave us the opportunity by going down to ten men and they still beat us 1-0. An absolutely worrying result which left us in the bottom three.
CH 17 - Wigan (h) - Wigan had just 4 points all season so far. They had been a car crash. Sure enough we were in charitable mood and despite dominating them and missing a penalty at 1-0 up, we drew the game. I got that sinking feeling again.
CH 18 - Nottm Forest (h) - That sinking feeling keeps coming as an abject Forest side turned around a 1-0 deficit to snatch all three points late on. We're in trouble.

DEC 2016
CH 19 - Birmingham (a) - Another poor result and performance. A 2-0 defeat and a missed penalty for Birmingham to boot. Morale low and our favourable run gone. Something had to change.
CH 20 - Norwich (h) - This was about the last thing we needed, and sure enough it was the battering I feared. A resounding 0-3 meaning we were winless in 9 home games and 11 games in total. Everything about us screamed relegation.
CH 21 - Sheff Weds (a) - I didn't fancy this. A Wednesday side needing a result against a Barnsley side that was dying on its arse. But we took a surprise lead, and doubled it just after half time, then made it 3, then 4, this is really happening, 11 without a win and we're 4 up at our rivals! Wednesday get one back but Watkins completes his hat-trick late on and the game ends 1-5, incredibly. What a win. Out of absolutely nothing.
CH 22 - Cardiff (a) - I did make a particular tactical tweak ahead of the Wednesday game and I hoped Cardiff fell into the same trap, and to my amazement, they did! We won 1-4. What on earth is going on? We can't buy a win and we then go and slap these two in a row?
CH 23 - Blackburn (h) - Back down to earth with a smack. We dominated from start to finish and BLackburn stole a 0-1 in injury time through Joao. The barren home run goes on.
CH 24 - Birmingham (h) - This was basically Blackburn all over again without the Blackburn goal. The performances encourage me, the goals tally doesn't. 0-0.

So we hit January sat 21st in the table, but I do think the tweak I made to our tactics is working a treat. I think I've been a bit too negative and haven't got my wide men attacking enough. It was no surprise that we pinged Wednesday and Cardiff in those areas. Adam Armstrong is on fire and Marley Watkins isn't too far behind.

I've been playing a 4-4-2, my best side is (R-L) Adam Davies / Marc Yiadom, Marc Roberts, Angus McDonald, Theo Pellenard / Ryan Kent, Matty James, Stephen Quinn, Ryan Hedges / Marley Watkins, Adam Armstrong.

I think we're improving and we will survive, but there are a lot of issues to iron out. McDonald worries me and his cover, Adam Jackson, is absolute garbage. I want Rob Holding on loan but we can't afford his wages unless we ship a couple of players out. Pellenard's proving to be a very decent buy so far and the midfield has a bit of depth, with Moncur, Mowatt and Scowen all ready to be called on. Bradshaw's had a disappointing year so far.

A concern for me going forward is our reliance on loanees. Kent, James and most worryingly of all, Armstrong, are all on loan. Armstrong is on loan from Newcastle yet has scored more than any of their forwards. He won't be here next year. He's a PL and possible England striker in the making.

I'm struggling to strengthen in January, but I'm fairly content with the squad and I think I've found a system that will keep us up. Enjoying this save so far.

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Results - JAN 2017
CH 25 - Nottm Forest (a) - Our last two away games were quite remarkable hammerings, surely it wouldn't happen again? But it did, kind of. A horrendously out of form Forest fell into the same traps as our previous foes and after a poor first half, we found ourselves amazingly 0-5 up with 20 to go. How can such a minor tweak do so much? The last 20 minutes were a concern though as we ran away winning the game 4-6, what on earth happened at the back I've no idea, but this was a big game and we've won it.
FAC R3 - Peterborough (h)- We FINALLY get that home goal, and win, albeit against a League One opposition. 1-0 it ends, stolen at the death.
CH 26 - Fulham (a) - Surely we couldn't do it again? Not this time. No hammering, or win, but we still pick up a pretty impressive point away at a team near the top.
CH 27 - Leeds (h) - It felt like all the frustration built up at Oakwell was unleashed in one fixture. Despite going behind, we ran away 5-2 winners in a superb preformance. We're starting to put some distance between ourselves and the bottom three.
CH 28 - Rotherham (a) - I went to this fully expecting a victory and we delivered. We nearly threw away a 0-2 lead, missing two penalties in the process, but we ended up sealing things on the counter late on and ran away 1-3 winners, for our 4th away win in 5 games.
FAC R4 - Liverpool (h)- We're starting to really turn it on in the league, but this was one too many. Despite turning around a deficit to go ahead, Liverpool hammered us 2-5 and the run was over.
CH 29 - Wolves (h) - A tricky home fixture against a flying Wolves side, an interesting test. One passed with flying colours. We ran away 4-1 winners. What on earth has happened to us? We are scoring a ridiculous amount of goals, 19 in our last 6 league games and 28 in our last 10. We're starting to leave the bottom three well and truly for dead. No business was done this month, but right now I was struggling to care.

FEB 2017
CH 30 - Preston (h) - The onus was on us for this, Preston are well out of form and for once, we went in as favourites. It wasn't pretty, but we won it fairly late on through an Armstrong penalty. This was the end of the road for Simon Grayson who was sacked after the game.
CH 31 - Reading (a) - This was one I feared. These absolutely battered us at Oakwell and how they only won 0-1 I've no idea. We go here bang in form though and we take the lead early on, before the game slowly starts to turn like the one back at our place - Reading attack after Reading attack. Loads of energy, little quality. They will be livid, but we held on for a fantastic 0-1 victory and moved ourselves up to 13th.
CH 32 - Aston Villa (a) - The away run finally came to an end, although we didn't disgrace ourselves. We did equalise twice in the second half, but Kodjia won the game late on and Villa won it 3-2. Villa hadn't had a good year, but you look at the two teams and you wonder how there's even a contest.
CH 33 - Brighton (h) - Yet another tricky test against a top six side, yet another victory. We went 2-0 up and were hanging on at the end, but we managed it and recorded a 2-1 win for a very unlikely double over them. After such a barren home run, this was our fourth straight victory at Oakwell.
CH 34 - Huddersfield (h) - A similar game to Brighton against yet another top six side, and yet again we won it. This was absolutely incredible. Yet again we went 2-0 up, then Huddersfield got one back, but we sealed it in injury time with a goal on the counter. Barnsley's 2015/16 consisted of an awful first half of the season and a near flawless second which saw them eventually promoted. Could it be?

MAR 2017
CH 35 - Derby (a) - Harry Redknapp took over 14th placed Derby for his first ever game at Pride Park. He couldn't have picked a worse fixture, one that the fans would've demanded a victory in yet Barnsley are deceptively unstoppable. It's another away win, another one in style, 1-3 this time. We are absolutely on fire.

Absolutely remarkable goings on here. We now sit 11th in the table after 35 games, consider we were 21st after 23 games, it's beyond belief. Confidence is sky high, the goals are flying in (only Brighton, Huddersfield and Newcastle have scored more) and I am now viewing the play-offs as an unlikely, yet possible scenario. We sit 7 points off 6th placed Sheffield Wednesday. It really could happen. We fear absolutely nobody.

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Results - MAR 2017
CH 36 - QPR (a) - Yet another away game, yet another what has become almost a routine win. 1-3 once again. This truly is unprecedented.
CH 37 - Ipswich (h) - I did fear we would choke in this game, and we did. We drew 1-1 after taking the lead, which isn't a disaster, but if we want that 6th spot then we're going to have to avoid another one of these.
CH 38 - Norwich (a) - Another draw, but it's a good result really. I didn't mind drawing with these away as they're a very good side, especially when we were missing our best defender Mark Roberts. 0-0 it ended.

APR 2017
CH 39 - Sheff Wed (h) - The good run started against our local rivals Sheffield Wednesday at their place, and I was hoping it would continue here. Sadly not. It's a third straight draw, and probably the biggest blow of the lot as these are one of the teams we need to gun down. It ended 0-0 again and truth be told we were lucky to draw.
CH 40 - Cardiff (h) - We got back to winning ways with a comfortable 2-0 win over strugglers Cardiff. But I think we'd probably started that bit too slowly to really catch the top six as everyone else kept winning. Still, this was 8 unbeaten, and just 1 loss in 17 league games. Quite remarkable.
CH 41 - Blackburn (a) - Similar game to the one at home to them, but there was no late Blackburn winner this time, it's another goalless draw, and an injuries to Armstrong & Roberts combined with another strong week for the teams above us left us needing a bit of a miracle.
CH 42 - Wigan (a) - But it's not over until it's over, already relegated Wigan were brushed aside 2-3.
CH 43 - Brentford (h) - Win or bust. Brentford are a team we need to gun down after their recent resurgence saw them go into the game 6th. We won 2-1 in yet another turbulent game against the West London club. They ended with ten men, we scored the winner from the resulting penalty and they had one saved even later on. Our thin hopes were kept alive with just three games to go.
CH 44 - Bristol City (a) - But sadly, this was the end of it. Our unbeaten run came to a very disappointing end against 23rd placed Bristol City, 1-0 it finished, leaving us 8 points off 6th with 2 games to go. It was one too many.
CH 45 - Burton (h) - A weakened Barnsley fell to pieces as my keeper got injured early doors, and I don't have one on the bench. A pretty awful way to lose our unbeaten run at home as stand-in keeper Michael Essien conceded twice with no reply. Not very fitting for us.

MAY 2017
CH 46 - Newcastle (a) - Newcastle already champions, 7 won in a row and Barnsley with nothing to play for. We put in a very decent performance and netted 3 times, yet still lost it comfortably. Newcastle won 5-3, a game that emphasised the quality they have as they scored largely through individual brilliance whereas we scored through nice moves on the counter. This past two games would've angered me if we had anything to play for, but we didn't.

We finished 10th, a nice 13 places above where we were predicted, so I'm happy. It's a shame we couldn't keep it going, but it turned out we would've needed to win our final 7 games to have gotten in the play-offs so we were on a bit of a hiding to nothing. Really though, we weren't expected to be anywhere near this and I can only praise what was a very good season.

Next year for me will largely depend on the budget I get. The big problem is the fact I'm going to need to replace James and Armstrong and that will likely eat into my money.

I think I've finally found a save I'm really enjoying though, so onwards and upwards.

201617 SR.PNG

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2017/18

Season preview
It's hard to know what you want when you feel like you have over-achieved the previous season. I always want to push on and take things to the next level, but when you see the money some of our competitors are throwing around, it's a bit ambitious to demand a play-off finish when Barnsley, and still predicted to come only 18th in the table.

Last year saw us start slowly as predicted, only to rocket up the table in the second half of the season and see a highly unlikely play-off push fall short late on.

Was it circumstantial? Or tactical? I'd say probably a bit of both.

I'd like to see progression on last year, but if we were to finish 10th again I don't think I could class it as a poor season. That said, we didn't have a bad budget to play with, £3mil in fees and an extra £100k a week wages on top of our original £130k a week was quite an improvement. Barnsley do have quite a solid if unspectacular side, and it can be built upon. I think there's quite a nice balance to the squad when you take over and it's ready to have gradual improvement put upon it, so that's what I'll aim to do.

 

Transfer business
Ins:
- Adam Armstrong (Newcastle, loan) - I had to didn't I? Newcastle's promotion saw Armstrong's chances limited and we pounced immediately. He was enormous for us last year and it was a no-brainer bringing him back.
 - Jack O'Connell (Sheff Utd, £2mil) - I did feel like I needed to improve the defence. Roberts is fine but I'm not entirely sure about Macdonald or Jackson, so another body was needed. A left sided centre half, still fairly young, recommended in this thread and screws over a local rival. He ticked all the boxes and more.
- Cameron Borthwick-Jackson (Man Utd, loan) - Can play naturally at left back and centre back. Experience of promotion with Wolves last season and another solid option to have.
- Lewis Cook (Bournemouth, loan) - For me, this was a slight upgrade on James. Cook has a bit more to his game and I feel will be an even better fit. Another signing I'm happy with.
- Tyias Browning (Everton, £1.2mil) - I felt cover was needed at right back with the departing Saidy Janko, and in Browning we got both that and cover at centre half. The defence looks very nice to me now.
- Serge Drogba (Academie JMG, free) - Ivorian keeper who comes without a work permit, aged just 18. A bit of a waste of time really as he isn't that great either.
- Rurik Gislason (Nurnberg, £110k) - Icelandic winger who fits our system to a tee, pacey, can play both sides and a high work rate.
- Josh Sims (Southampton, loan) - One of those signings where I debate it for a while and once I've made it wonder why I even debate it. He's a quality youngster, another with promotion experience last year with Wolves and an upgrade on Hedges, although he won't come straight in as Hedges does seem to deliver.
- Azbe Jug (Sporting CP, £63k) - Slovenian goalkeeper, not bad stats, cheap fee and wages, brought in as back-up.

Outs:
- Released youngsters
- Lewis Nyatanga (released)
- Aidan White (released)
- Nick Townsend (Burton, £60k) - Wanted first team football which I couldn't give him. This transfer lead to the Jug move.

 

Results - AUG 2017
CH 1 - Brighton (a) - We did the double over these last year, impressively as they finished in the play-offs (and blew it as usual). It was yet another win over them, we won 2-3 and if anything it flattered Brighton. A fantastic start. Perfect.
LC 1 - Hartlepool (h) - Changed nearly the entire XI and felt my side was still decent, which is a good sign. We won 3-0.
CH 2 - Brentford (h) - Always seems to be a very open game with Brentford and this was no different. A game which saw an unbelievable 46 shots registered, but just one goal - it went our way. Two wins out of two.
CH 3 - Derby (a) - Even game which Derby stole fairly late on with a Bryson screamer. I can handle losing to quality.
CH 4 - Swansea (h) - A real test, passed with style. A Swansea side containing the likes of Sigurdsson, Fer, Baston and Narsingh were stuffed 3-0. Ex-Barnsley youngster Alfie Mawson was notably awful too.
LC 2 - MK Dons (h) - Similar to Hartlepool, yet we went one better and won 4-0. We really do look impressive.
CH 5 - Fulham (a) - Not an easy place to go to, and FUlham took the lead early on through an own goal. We slowly got back into it though and ended up turning the game on its head with two late goals, all three subs involved in both goals, as well as a shape change made during the second half. That really was a high point for me, my favourite type of win. We topped the table. Remarkable.
CH 6 - Charlton (h) - Back down to earth with a bump. The league's bottom side came here and it would be harsh on them to say they stole a point, because they had the better chances. 1-1. Shite.

SEP 2017
CH 7 - Aston Villa (h) - We raced to a 2-0 lead early on but Villa equalised in injury time. Gutting but it happens. 2-2.
CH 8 - Norwich (a) - Very tricky game, sadly fruitless. Not embarrassed but we lost 2-1. It's gone a little wrong since Fulham.
CH 9 - Leeds (a) - We took a very early lead away at fellow high flyers Leeds but lost the game 2-1. This was the game I refer to earlier in the thread, where Borthwick-Jackson decided he'd start chasing after Ben Woodburn and I couldn't find how to get him to stop. Leeds carved us open and truth be told I felt a bit robbed even if they did batter us. I felt there was nothing I could do.
LC 3 - Chelsea (a) - A youthful Chelsea beat us through a very early Piazon free-kick. Fine margins. No disgrace losing here.
CH 10 - Reading (h) - We needed a reaction, and my god did we get one. Everything we touched turned to gold. We raced to a 5-1 lead at half time and Armstrong added a sixth in the second half. We gave them the pasting they ought to have given us twice last year. What a reaction, going into a very winnable game.
CH 11 - Oxford (a) - We raced into an early 0-2 lead against struggling newcomers Oxford and I felt it was a case of how many. I warned against complacency, they reacted well, apparently - 46 minutes on the clock and ex-Barnsley forward Kane Hemmings has belted one in. You fear the worst from here, and it came. Hemmings equalises with 10 minutes left and Maguire steals them the win in injury time. I don't think a result has annoyed me on this FM more.
CH 12 - Burton (a) - A game that started frantically with us taking the lead twice, but not a lot else. A much needed victory after four straight away losses.

 

201718 LT1.PNG

 

We sit where we finished last season. I felt like we could win the league after that Fulham game. Immortal. But we've had quite a rocky road since then. Our home form is impressive but we've been quite shoddy on the road all things considered. Oxford was so deflating because it was out of our character. We wouldn't have lost that last year.

I still think we can make the top six, but that Oxford game has haunted me and I worry that we've got too much of that in us to do it.

O'Connell's been disappointing so far, but the rest have delivered. Armstrong's bang in form again and Williams is having a very decent season.

I do think, in our defence, we have had quite a tough run of games.

Notably, Swansea sit in the bottom three and have just sacked Di Matteo xD

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OCT 2017
CH 13 - Middlesbrough (h) - The end of our unbeaten home run. Joke of a game too. Middlesbrough, like Swansea, had massively struggled upon relegation, but they got a 0-2 win here courtesy of two absolutely outrageous long range efforts. Just not our night.
CH 14 - QPR (h) - Fell behind early on but two rapid goals had the game turned around by half time, we were second best in the second half though and QPR got a deserved point. 2-2.
CH 15 - Sunderland (h) - Took the lead early on but were simply outclassed in the end as Sunderland went top with a 1-3 win.
CH 16 - Nottm Forest (a) - A carbon copy of last years game, minus the late Forest rallying cry. 0-1 at half time against the run of play, Barnsley running riot on the counter in the second half. We picked up a fantastic 1-5 victory.
CH 17 - Millwall (h) - Dominated from start to finish, went behind in the second half, equalised two minutes later, went behind in the 88th minute, equalised five minutes later. Happy with how we got the point, unhappy that we didn't get three.

NOV 2017
CH 18 - Sheff Weds (a) - We seem set up for games like this, and once again we delivered. A nicely managed game ended with a 0-1 victory courtesy of goal machine Armstrong. He's on fire.
CH 19 - Ipswich (h) - A test at home to a mediocre side. Failed. We were beaten 1-2, meaning it's four home games without victory. Dreadful, and my faith in our promotion bid really taking a hit.
CH 20 - Blackburn (a) - But then we go away from home and it's all OK again. Yet another battering. 1-5 once again. Blackburn turned in probably the worst defensive display I've seen while at Barnsley. We could've had 8 or 9. Total battering.

DEC 2017
CH 21 - Birmingham (h) - Home to bottom of the league and winning 1-0 at half time, and we incredibly manage to take nothing from the game. Absolute disgrace of a result, totally sums up what we've been about for a lot of this season, inconsistent beyond belief. We're blowing far too many of these games.
CH 22 - Bristol City (a) - Inconsistency confirmed again. High flying Bristol City took the lead early on, but we turned it on its head and picked up a fantastic 1-2 victory. Our fourth straight away win.
CH 23 - Rotherham (h) - Don't fuck up, don't fuck up, don't fuck up. Didn't fuck up. Miracle. Two wins on the bounce. Miracle. 2-0 it ended, incredibly up to 6th.
CH 24 - Brentford (a) - Always a frantic game with these and this was no different. We drew it 2-2 but we really ought to have won it on the balance of play.
CH 25 - Brighton (h) - I've had the beating of these so far, but it came to an abrupt end. We did take the lead early on, but we completely fell to pieces in the second half and Tomer Hemed bagged four times as Brighton ran away 1-4 winners. Captain Marc Roberts with a nightmare performance.
CH 26 - Derby (h) - Yet another defeat at home. Brighton outclassed us, but this was just plain irritating. Dominant throughout most of the game yet couldn't take any chances, they get one and it's in. The minute they went ahead I knew we'd lose.
CH 27 - Swansea (a) - These have unsurprisingly picked up since we last played them, and it's on paper probably our hardest game. We did to them exactly what Derby did to us, we got an early goal and just soaked up the pressure, holding on for a superb 0-1 victory. This was Swansea's first home defeat of the season, so it's a superb result.

 

 

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The above two images kind of tell the whole story. Hard to believe it was our away form letting us down earlier in the season. 

 

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8th overall going into the new year (although just 19 games to go, odd schedule). Leeds look destined to finally go back up. The battle for the play-offs is intriguing but we seem to be floating around this position without breaking into there frequently. I get the feeling that will go on for most of the season.

8th would still represent a good effort I feel, but when you're that close, you do want to go all the way.

It's annoying that QPR and Bristol City are up there. They were both predicted to finish around where we did so we don't stand out xD

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JAN 2018 (In: Richard Horton, TNS, £105k - Christian Santos, Alaves, £1.4mil) (Out: Elliot Lee, Coventry, loan)
CH 28 - Fulham (h) - Rubbish fixture scheduling as this came just two days after the Swansea game. The goalless draw was unsurprising as a result.
FAC R3 - Brighton (a) - Boring draw which we lost 2-1. Not a lot to add.
CH 29 - Charlton (a) - Awful performance. Second best throughout the game and beaten 3-1 by a struggling side.
CH 30 - Aston Villa (a) - This had become quite a big game given the position of the two teams (6th v 8th) and we were heading for another 3-1 defeat until an astonishing late comeback saw us pick up the unlikeliest of points. 3-3.
CH 31 - Norwich (h) - Had no luck against these so far but this is where it changed. Second placed Norwich arrived and we played out a superb game. We took the lead and thre it away twice before Armstrong belted in a close range effort from a half clearance with just two minutes left. A massive win and our first in 4 home games.

FEB 2018
CH 32 - Middlesbrough (a) - Middlesbrough beat us in October with two long range screamers. They opened the scoring with another. How do they keep doing it? We offered very little throughout the game and lost it 3-1 again. A horrible game where we lost Armstrong for two months for the second year running around this time. Our away form running out when we needed it. Middlesbrough have struggled as well.
CH 33 - Reading (a) - An absolutely frantic game but one of those where it just didn't fall our way. Reading went 2-0 up in the first half but amazingly we clawed it back to 2-2 on the hour, Reading then nicked one with 15 to go, before we equalised again, before Reading then added two more to win 5-3. On the balance of play, we should never ever have lost.
CH 34 - Leeds (h) - I expected little and I got little. Leeds are going up this season and despite starting well, we ended up losing 0-1 in the second half. Three straight defeats and we're staring the bottom half in the face. The play-off dream looks to be just that.
CH 35 - Oxford (h) - We had to win this. We did. A bit of a change in system saw us finally win again, only our third in twelve games. 2-0 it finished despite getting a red card.
CH 36 - QPR (a) - QPR are in the play-offs and we're 10th. We need the win really, but I accept a point when we're reduced to 10 men late on at 0-0 after spending a lot of the game under the cosh.

MAR 2018
CH 37 - Burton (h) - The fans flocked to see Barnsley take on the leagues bottom side as the club put on a special deal. A bumper crowd, to my amazement, was treated to a 4-1 win. We did very well here.
CH 38 - Sunderland (a) - The most gutting game I have played on 17 yet. Josh Scowen got red carded within the 2nd minute and we needed a bit of a miracle. Sunderland went ahead in the 20th minute and from then on I expected us to get slaughtered. I rolled the dice and attacked them. Christian Santos bagged his first Barnsley goal in the second half and we genuinely stayed in the game right until injury time where we conceded a silly penalty and lost 2-1. A point in this fixture with eleven men would've been impressive, let alone ten. Scowen fined as it's his second red card in our last four games.
CH 39 - Nottm Forest (h) - We simply had to win this. We delivered. We went 2-0 up but as usual made it tricky for ourselves by conceding late on, but it ended 2-1.
CH 40 - Millwall (a) - Millwall are now 17th, they were fighting for the play-offs at one point, they've capitulated and it's time to pounce on that. And we did, Santos got his 3rd and 4th goals for the club in a very well polished 1-4 win. Brilliant performance and result.

So we now hit an international break, 17 days without a fixture for us, but we go into the run-in 7th in the table after having a very good March and end to February.

I think 70 points is probably my aim. We don't have too bad a run-in either actually, four of our six games are against teams in the bottom 7 (although one is Sheff Weds who are on fire). The crucial game will be Bristol City at home, the penultimate fixture.

In terms of our team I have shook it up a bit. I have tried to tighten the midfield a bit by having a more defensive minded role in there rather than two fairly attacking as I think that's why we kept conceding a lot. It worked for a while but I'm not surprised it's been seemingly sussed.

I've also decided to give Angus Macdonald his place alongside Marc Roberts back. Jack O'Connell and Borthwick-Jackson have both been a little disappointing to me. He hasn't disappointed either, he's outperformed both of them and the place is his for now.

Lewis Cook and Ryan Hedges have hit some very good form late on and Adam Armstrong is back from his injury, although Watkins has hit a bit of form himself so it's given me a bit of a headache.

201718 LT3.PNG

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APR 2018
CH 41 - Ipswich (a) - This was one of the trickier games I felt. I'm still yet to beat Ipswich. I took this one as a game I'd be happy to draw if I could back it up with victories in other games. That's exactly what we did. 0-0.
CH 42 - Sheff Weds (h) - The derby. They went into this game in superb form despite being very low in the table, but we ended their unbeaten run with a very satisfying 2-0 victory. I've had their number on this game so far.
CH 43 - Blackburn (h) - We simply had to win this. We thumped them away and we needed the points desperately. What happened was quite funny. We raced to a 3-0 lead after just 13 minutes, before Scowen picked up yet another stupid red card in the first half and from the resulting free-kick, Pellenard gifted them a goal. Despite playing us with an extra man for over half of the game, Blackburn went on to lose the game 5-1. We were brilliant, doing exactly what Bayern did to Arsenal by beating them 5-1 and 1-5. 

CH 44 - Birmingham City v Barnsley
It's individual games from now on. The play-off push is truly on. The Blackburn result has propelled us into 6th in the table, and maximum points from here guarantees that we will be finishing inside of them.

The top four are to be ignored. Leeds have already won the league, Norwich and Sunderland are battling for 2nd, and Villa in 4th look too far behind 2nd to catch them and too far ahead of 7th to be caught, so they're basically in the play-offs.

It's two teams going for four spots. They are Brighton (5th, 67), Barnsley (6th, 66), Swansea (7th, 66) and QPR (8th, 66). It's very, very tight, but we have the goal difference advantage. Brighton and Swansea meet each other at the AMEX and QPR go away to top two chasing Sunderland.

Birmingham have had a shoddy year, but they have turned it around a bit and are now looking like they will survive. But we should win this game.

Sadly, we blow it. Our unbeaten run comes to an abrupt end as a ten man Birmingham see us off 1-0. It's a massively disappointing showing from us, we never got going. QPR rubbed salt into the wound by picking up a surprise win at Sunderland, while Brighton and Swansea drew 0-0. We were 8th.

 

CH 45 - Barnsley v Bristol City
We just need to get this game won. Bristol City are just a place below us, but need a bit of a miracle to get into the top six.

We deliver this time around. It was a frantic, end to end game, but despite some scares, we won the game 3-2 and took a huge leap towards pulling it off. QPR beat Forest and Swansea beat Brentford, but Brighton lost at Fulham and ended up in 8th place.

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CH 46 - Rotherham v Barnsley
It sets up an absolutely frantic final day, with issues to be resolved at both ends of the table. Brighton are out of the picture from our perspective, if Brighton make it then we've already blown it anyway, so their game at home to Charlton means very little to me. It's QPR and Swansea we have an eye on.

QPR go away to Millwall. Our only chance of topping them is if we win and they lose. It's not impossible, but it's not likely either.

Swansea go away to Derby. That's the one we really need. Derby is a tricky fixture, and it's well in the balance that they win that game. We have to win and hope that Swansea don't, although we can draw, Swansea lose, and Brighton don't win.

The South Yorkshire derby is underway. Rotherham need a result themselves. They're one of three sides who could join Burton and Oxford in League One next year, the others Blackburn and, incredibly, Middlesbrough. Rotherham have picked up some form of late and will feel they have a chance.

But it's a pretty poor quality game. It's exciting, end to end football, but the end product simply isn't there from either side and little of note is being created.

Then we get the dreaded news. Swansea have taken the lead at Derby through Franck Tabanou. Nightmare. We need a favour from Millwall here. We don't get it, Luongo gives QPR the lead and we go into the break goalless, with both Swansea and QPR leading 0-1.

But in the second half, it arrives. A nice move leads to Christian Santos being in a position where he cannot miss, and makes no mistake. Barnsley have the lead and the celebrations are wild, but as things were, we were still 7th.

The game fizzled out into more of the same. End to end, but a lack of quality. It was a nervy encounter, but it looked more and more like finishing 0-1.

QPR then doubled their lead in the 75th minute. They're out of the picture. Only a loss for them means they can be caught. By 81 minutes, it's 0-4. It's all on you Derby.

And for once, they deliver. In the 85th minute Jacob Butterfield levels the game at Pride Park. News filters through the away end at Barnsley. The celebrations are beginning, but it isn't over yet. Rotherham are panicking, Blackburn are winning and Middlesbrough losing, one Middlesbrough goal puts them into 22nd.

But nothing else happens. Derby have done their bit, and Barnsley have held on for a fantastic 0-1 victory. We've made the play-offs!!!! In such dramatic circumstances to boot. Swansea will rue many an opportunity this season, the title favourites who we beat twice, who started so badly that they cost themselves possibly a top two spot, never mind a play-off one.

Rotherham survive, so it's party mode at the New York Stadium. Both teams got what they came for. Middlesbrough, staggeringly, have suffered consecutive relegations.

Norwich have lost at Bristol City, but Sunderland have failed to beat Aston Villa and this has handed Norwich promotion.

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So there it is. Sunderland it will be. Our top scorer, Adam Armstrong, on loan from Newcastle, the stage is set.

Sunderland did beat us home and away this season, and that does concern me. But they're on a low. They have just missed out on promotion while we're on a massive high. One of their key men, Didier Ndong, picked up a red card against Villa, and will miss the first leg.

The four year plan may well be ahead of schedule. We've done what we can so far.

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CH PO Leg 1 - Barnsley vs Sunderland

Against all odds, here we were. The final day drama had led to a highly unlikely play-off place. Sunderland were our opponents. Sunderland have come down from the Premier League under Moyes, as expected in real life, and have missed out on automatic promotion on the final day by failing to beat Aston Villa at home. They're missing two key players in Ndong and Defoe (who I'm surprised they held onto) for the game.

4 - Lewis Cook picks up a knock and is substituted by Stephen Quinn. This is a massive blow for us as Cook has been in inspired form of late. Quinn is a steady player, but Cook is an England international in the making. He's a big loss here.

16 - Sunderland have made the brighter start, but Barnsley have gotten right back into the game. A corner is half cleared by Sunderland and Ryan Hedges pokes in from a scramble. Barnsley lead 1-0!

32 - Barnsley pile on more and more pressure. Quinn whips in a corner and Angus Macdonald bullets a header into the net. It's 2-0. Phenomenal.

HT - Barnsley 2-0 Sunderland. We couldn't have asked for a better half. Sunderland have turned up the pressure, but we're holding out well and not allowing them anything too clear cut.

49 - Sunderland get one back. Exactly what we needed to avoid, an early second half goal. Victor Anichebe prods home from close range after a nice move. Game on.

80 - Sunderland have battered us this half. Similarly to the league game, we started brighter but Sunderland eventually piled on the pressure and got the win. They make it count late on. Anichebe belts one in from the edge of the box and Sunderland are level.

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Verdict: Slightly underwhelmed really. It was going perfectly but we couldn't handle them in the end. The manner of this game doesn't fill me with any confidence going into the away game. QPR beat Aston Villa 3-1 in the other game.

 

CH PO Leg 2 - Sunderland (2) v Barnsley (2)

We really are up against it here. We lost at Sunderland in the league not too long ago, although it was absolutely cruel how it came about.

I tell the team to play without pressure. There is no shame if we lose this game. They seem to react well to this kind of talk and I'm hoping it's what may give us the psychological edge. Sunderland know the pressure is on them here. They ought to win this game.

Quinn comes in for Scowen who isn't in great condition. I gamble and put Borthwick-Jackson in at left back for Pellenard, as the Frenchman has struggled for form recently.

The first half is a drab affair with nothing of note. That suits me to a tee. Sunderland are on top early doors, but we hold off their pressure and eventually start to look dangerous on the break ourselves. On the stroke of half time, Christian Santos suffers an injury and is replaced by Marley Watkins. Half time, 0-0.

49 - Barnsley are looking the stronger side. Armstrong and Watkins break and Armstrong runs down the left, pulls it back to Watkins who should tap in for a shock lead, but the effort is tame and Pickford deals with it. A huge chance gone.

63 - Barnsley again break. Hedges launches the ball forward and Watkins gives chase, coming between the two Sunderland centre halves. He isn't rapidly quick, but he gets there first and his touch is spot on, he's one on one from the edge of the box and prods it low into the corner of the net. Barnsley have the lead. He had to get that absolutely spot on, and he has. The shock could really be on.

75 - Sunderland have no answer. It's been the same all game, they have been thwarted time and time again by the defence, yet they seem to have no answer to Barnsley on the counter. We break yet again, Watkins gets to the corner of the box, cuts it back to Newcastle loanee Adam Armstrong who curls a low shot past Pickford and into the net. Absolute delirium in the away end. Barnsley lead 0-2. We threw away a 2-0 lead last time out so it isn't over yet, but I decide to throw an extra midfielder on and try everything to nullify Sunderland building anything.

FT - Sunderland 0-2 Barnsley (2-4 on aggregate) - They have no answer. It's incredible. Sunderland are booed off by the 25,000 who stayed after Barnsley's 2nd. Barnsley have gone through to the final. Probably my best result on FM17 yet.

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Elsewhere, QPR have drawn 2-2 at Villa Park, setting up the unlikeliest of play-off finals.

 

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PLAY-OFF FINAL - BARNSLEY V QPR

No injuries. No major loss of confidence in the pre-match team meeting. We're raring to go.

Scowen comes back in for Quinn, we line up with a 4-4-2 of Davies, Yiadom, Roberts, Macdonald, Pellenard, Williams, Cook, Scowen, Hedges, Santos and Armstrong. QPR line up with a 4-3-3 consisting of a quick front three.

20 - QPR dominate early doors and test us a couple of times from distance. They get a corner, it's half cleared to Ismael Bennacer on the edge of the box and he rifles it first time straight into the top corner. Advantage QPR, and it's deserved.

23 - There's no hold-up from QPR. They continue to come at us, pin us back and wait for their opening. An intricate move sees Bennacer thread Chris Willock through one on one and he makes no mistake. It's disastrous for Barnsley. QPR are walking this. They have been outstanding. 0-2.

HT - Barnsley 0-2 QPR. Completely dominated. It's gutting because QPR are in a similar boat to us - kind of in the sense that if they blow this, they're probably not going to be a favourite to do it next year either. It feels like a last chance saloon for both sides, and QPR have shown up. I decide to bring on Watkins for the ineffective Santos, and we have to attack, we have no choice.

53 - We look a lot better this half. The ball comes to Watkins who enters the box at a bit of an angle, it's a half chance, but he finishes absolutely superbly in off the post. We are right back in this game. 1-2!

QPR seem happier to soak us up this half, we keep going at them, but they keep thwarting us. Time and time again Hedges and Williams throw crosses in, but they have really done a job on Armstrong here, he's nowhere.

90+2 - Bradshaw, Armstrong and Watkins are all on. I have gone overload. 3-4-3 in an attempt to save this game, hoping to revert to 4-4-2 with Watkins out wide should we force extra time. Sadly, we play into their hands. QPR nullify one last attack and I expect the whistle to be blown. It isn't. QPR get the ball back up to our end and Ben Gladwin rifles one into the bottom corner from 25 yards. Game over. Season over. QPR are promoted.

I'm pretty gutted, but QPR deserved it. They were just better.

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2018/19

Season preview

Two years in a row I feel we have over-achieved, and to a degree, part of you thinks there's no way that is even possible. When it happens two years on the spin, maybe you are just a good team. Maybe you're not punching above your weight at all.

So my expectation this season is another top six finished. We scraped into it last year, but that isn't a criticism, it was a phenomenal effort in my eyes to get to that position. We would be hit by the loss of loanees such as Armstrong, Cook, Borthwick-Jackson & Sims, but we had a little bit of money to spend again and a few loanees to have an eye on.

It's a tricky league though. I sense plenty of teams will be thinking they can make the top six.

 

Transfer business
Ins:
- Dan Burn (Wigan, £350k) - Bit of an off-field one here as he was a part of the Wigan side that was relegated and had actually only played 9 games for them in their League One campaign, but he's actually got quite good attributes and I got the impression he was in need of a fresh start. An aerially dominant, left sided centre half. That'll do me.
- Bradley Dack (Gillingham, free) - It's a bit of a gamble with him so far spending a career in the lower leagues, but he's improved year upon year at Gillingham and is still fairly young. It is a gamble to replace Cook with him, but he's got a bit of potential I feel and suits the way I want to play. On a free, I had to do it.
- Adam Armstrong (Newcastle, loan) - Championship golden boot winner last year, yet again listed for loan by Newcastle. It's a safe signing.
- Ismael Bennacer (Arsenal, £625k) - Bit naughty this one, he caught my eye in that play-off final and having looked into him, he's actually an ideal signing for us, he's not quite PL level yet hence QPR not taking up the option to sign him, but he's only 20 and is a very solid midfielder at this level. I was really happy with this one. Tenacious with a touch of class.
- Tom Lawrence (Leicester, free) - I was eyeing up Lawrence and Matty James for a long time on frees but left James once I signed Bennacer, however Lawrence comes in. Again it felt like common sense, a very versatile midfield player and an upgrade on what I already have. A strong signing.
- Gaetan Bong (Brighton, loan) - Needed left back cover and went for the cheap option. He's quite good going forward which makes him a potential alternative to Pellenard if I'm chasing a game.

 

Outs:
- Released youngsters
- Adam Hammill (released)
- Shaun Tuton (released)
- Elliot Lee (released)
- Cole Kpekawa (Carlisle, loan) - Back-up centre half who hasn't really developed. I expect this to lead to a permanent move.
- Richard Horton (Mansfield, loan) - One of my brighter youngsters. Winger I signed from TNS.

 

Results - AUG 2018
CH 1 - Brighton (h) - We kicked the season off with the same team as last year, although at home this time. An even, open game was drawn 1-1. Mediocre.
LC 1 - Oldham (h) - We were really poor here. We won the game 1-0 but I was massively concerned by our performance. Absolutely shocking.
CH 2 - Swansea (a) - Unsurprisingly we were beaten. A bit of revenge for them after pipping them to the play-offs. It took them hitting the woodwork three times and missing a penalty all within the first half before they broke through, and eventually won 2-1 with our goal being a consolation.
CH 3 - Ipswich (h) - Bogey fixture, and we lost it again. What an utterly depressing start from us. 0-1.
CH 4 - Watford (a) - On paper the hardest game of the season, I expected to be battered, but we picked up the most textbook scabby 0-1 victory ever. They dominated us but we got a late goal and held on. Fantastic way to get our first win.
LC 2 - Wigan (h) - Oldham all over again, but this time it took penalties. Very concerning performance yet again.

SEP 2018
CH 5 - Aston Villa (h) - Expected us to lose this one, but yet again it was a draw. We always draw with Villa. 1-1.
CH 6 - Brentford (a) - I had a team meeting to raise spirits during the international break and it paid off, we looked ourselves in this game, becoming the first away side ever to win at Brentford's new Lionel Road stadium. 1-3 it ended, and it could've easily been more.
CH 7 - Blackburn (h) - Surely not 5-1 again? Tell you what, not too far off, 3-0 up by half time again, Blackburn got a consolation. 3-1 it ended.
CH 8 - Fulham (a) - Always a tough fixture. We turned around a deficit before having the same done to ourselves, I went for a really attacking formation and it paid off as we pinched a late draw.
LC 3 - QPR (h) - It just had to happen didn't it? The play-off final rematch. QPR once again had the last laugh, stealing it in the 119th minute. I'm beginning to hate these.
CH 9 - Birmingham (h) - Always seem to struggle in this fixture for reasons I can't explain. Bradshaw got a penalty to win it 1-0. Not impressive but it'll do.

OCT 2018
CH 10 - Rotherham (a) - The scene of good memories for us after the last day drama last year. It wasn't going that way though as Rotherham took the lead in the 65th minute, only for Tom Bradshaw to turn in a hat-trick fairly late on. An absolutely brilliant win.
CH 11 - Cardiff (h) - Newly promoted Cardiff so we ought to be winning really. We did. Same as the Birmingham game, 1-0 through a late penalty. 16 points from 6 games.
CH 12 - Hull (a) - Good run brought to an end at Hull, but we probably edged the game and that's something in a game this tricky.
CH 13 - Nottm Forest (h) - Forest are the shock league leaders under Sven xD but we raced to a 2-0 lead in the second half. But we somehow lost it. I was absolutely livid.
CH 14 - Huddersfield (a) - Huddersfield, along with Watford, are having a shocker upon relegation. They went into this game bottom of the table. I never know how to approach these games, I feel like a mug if I don't win it because I know they're a decent side, but they keep losing. We went ahead early on, only for Huddersfield's Michael Hefele, a clogger centre half to pull out a 30 yarder. Imagine my horror when he stepped up for a free-kick just before half time and he put that in as well. Absolutely unbelievable. We come out for the second half and Huddersfield run straight up and make it 3-1. I am seething with our defending. Fuck it, it's time for the ultra-attacking 4-2-1-3 I played at Fulham and got a point with. It leads to a frantic game, but we get a goal back in the second half. We're allowing them chances too, but we're in the ascendancy and we equalise with 10 minutes to go. Huddersfield concede possession from kick off, we get it up the other end and Armstrong curls one in from the corner of the box. The most extraordinary game and turnaround I've seen on FM17 yet. We hold on, meaning it's two games on the spin where the home team has been two goals ahead and lost.

NOV 2018
CH 15 - Sheff Weds (h) - I have a lovely record against these and go into it expecting victory. Sheff Weds have their shooting boots on though and pull out a couple of screamers. The game ends 2-2 though, we equalise twice and really, we ought to have won.
CH 16 - Reading (a) - Always a tricky game. Not this time, we walked it. 1-3 it ended. Bradshaw's absolutely on fire.
CH 17 - Bristol City (a) - Another tricky game, Bristol City took the lead but Bennacer equalised just before half time and that's how it ended. A fair result I'd say.

 

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So, 5th going into the November international break. I think we're doing very well. We started very badly but we've recovered it and I think we're going to finish inside the play-offs again. Forest are having an unbelievably good season but you've always got the hope they'll blow it as their side really isn't that great. Fulham and Swansea unsurprisingly doing well.

Watford & Huddersfield have been a disaster, but the similarities between Watford this year and Swansea last year are eerie, I expect Watford to fly up the table eventually. Huddersfield sit rock bottom. It's amazing how much momentum seems to play a part on this game, with Middlesbrough suffering consecutive relegations as well (and they're only 5th in League One).

The good thing for us is that we have played nearly all of the teams around the top already. We have a nice run of games coming up and we might even get into the automatics if we deliver what I know we're capable of.

Tom Bradshaw has been the outstanding player so far, hitting 13 in 14 so far. Armstrong 8 in 14 which is respectable but he seems to have developed "if he doesn't score he's useless" syndrome and I'm not convinced he's the messiah he once looked. Tom Lawrence has looked good in patches but has spent more time sidelined than not. Dack's been a really decent signing so far, him and Bennacer are forming a very decent partnership in midfield. It's the defence that worries me, I think to be fair though we're very much in a system that will yield goals at both ends so it's not an individual error, we have some very good defenders for this level. Macdonald has generally kept his place but Burn is knocking on the door. O'Connell is being re-trained as a left back but truth be told I see him gone within a year, it hasn't really worked.

Tyias Browning wants out as well which is a shame, and even more irritating because I very nearly signed another right back on a free, who has since gone to play in Saudi Arabia. Props to the attacking 4-2-1-3 though, I make the full backs play effectively as wingers, Dack behind a trio of Santos and then two of Armstrong, Watkins and Bradshaw, with Bennacer and Scowen playing as BWM's behind Dack. I'd never start a game with it, but I tell you what it's worked a treat when I'm losing away from home.

It's been another good season though, and I think when Lawrence gets more involved we'll be even better because he's a level above Williams.

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I forgot to mention in the other thread: 

Don't worry about Tyias Browning too much. He's a whigny bitch on every game. Mason Holgate is the better long term Everton option.

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He is a whingy bitch. The usual FM curse strikes though, I take him off the bench and put a centre half there, sure enough Yiadom gets injured within two games. I'm absolutely certain there's something programmed for that to happen.

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Adam Armstrong was one of my transfer targets at Everton. Interested to see how he gets along at Barnsley for you.

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I'm glad to know your first season wasn't a total success xD I'm about 15th at the moment, was doing well up until November, in th play offs and then went on a mad one down, managed to lose Bradshaw and Armstrong at the same time to injury too, seeing your second season shows there's hope for me yet xD

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On 4/24/2017 at 0:42 AM, LaSambadeStGermain said:

Adam Armstrong was one of my transfer targets at Everton. Interested to see how he gets along at Barnsley for you.

Think of him as a slightly poorer Vardy, although he's got years to develop so could become something similar.

 

19 hours ago, Danny said:

I'm glad to know your first season wasn't a total success xD I'm about 15th at the moment, was doing well up until November, in th play offs and then went on a mad one down, managed to lose Bradshaw and Armstrong at the same time to injury too, seeing your second season shows there's hope for me yet xD

Yeah the first year was heading for a disaster, but it seemed like the minute I changed my wingers from support duty to attack duty, we started ripping teams to pieces. The most minor of tweaks made the biggest of differences.

Barnsley don't have a bad squad really. It isn't brilliant but there are some very steady players. Davies, Yiadom, Roberts, Bradshaw, Williams, Armstrong, James are all very steady players at that level.

Out of interest, how is Mowatt doing for you? I've found him to be the biggest disappointment out of everyone. He's got attributes that made me think he could develop into possibly a lower PL player yet he can't get near my team, and I'll probably end up releasing him at the end of this season if he doesn't pick up.

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On 4/22/2017 at 2:49 PM, Dan said:

barnsley-fc-crest.jpg

2018/19

Season preview

Two years in a row I feel we have over-achieved, and to a degree, part of you thinks there's no way that is even possible. When it happens two years on the spin, maybe you are just a good team. Maybe you're not punching above your weight at all.

So my expectation this season is another top six finished. We scraped into it last year, but that isn't a criticism, it was a phenomenal effort in my eyes to get to that position. We would be hit by the loss of loanees such as Armstrong, Cook, Borthwick-Jackson & Sims, but we had a little bit of money to spend again and a few loanees to have an eye on.

It's a tricky league though. I sense plenty of teams will be thinking they can make the top six.

 

Transfer business
Ins:
- Dan Burn (Wigan, £350k) - Bit of an off-field one here as he was a part of the Wigan side that was relegated and had actually only played 9 games for them in their League One campaign, but he's actually got quite good attributes and I got the impression he was in need of a fresh start. An aerially dominant, left sided centre half. That'll do me.
- Bradley Dack (Gillingham, free) - It's a bit of a gamble with him so far spending a career in the lower leagues, but he's improved year upon year at Gillingham and is still fairly young. It is a gamble to replace Cook with him, but he's got a bit of potential I feel and suits the way I want to play. On a free, I had to do it.
- Adam Armstrong (Newcastle, loan) - Championship golden boot winner last year, yet again listed for loan by Newcastle. It's a safe signing.
- Ismael Bennacer (Arsenal, £625k) - Bit naughty this one, he caught my eye in that play-off final and having looked into him, he's actually an ideal signing for us, he's not quite PL level yet hence QPR not taking up the option to sign him, but he's only 20 and is a very solid midfielder at this level. I was really happy with this one. Tenacious with a touch of class.
- Tom Lawrence (Leicester, free) - I was eyeing up Lawrence and Matty James for a long time on frees but left James once I signed Bennacer, however Lawrence comes in. Again it felt like common sense, a very versatile midfield player and an upgrade on what I already have. A strong signing.
- Gaetan Bong (Brighton, loan) - Needed left back cover and went for the cheap option. He's quite good going forward which makes him a potential alternative to Pellenard if I'm chasing a game.

 

Outs:
- Released youngsters
- Adam Hammill (released)
- Shaun Tuton (released)
- Elliot Lee (released)
- Cole Kpekawa (Carlisle, loan) - Back-up centre half who hasn't really developed. I expect this to lead to a permanent move.
- Richard Horton (Mansfield, loan) - One of my brighter youngsters. Winger I signed from TNS.

 

Results - AUG 2018
CH 1 - Brighton (h) - We kicked the season off with the same team as last year, although at home this time. An even, open game was drawn 1-1. Mediocre.
LC 1 - Oldham (h) - We were really poor here. We won the game 1-0 but I was massively concerned by our performance. Absolutely shocking.
CH 2 - Swansea (a) - Unsurprisingly we were beaten. A bit of revenge for them after pipping them to the play-offs. It took them hitting the woodwork three times and missing a penalty all within the first half before they broke through, and eventually won 2-1 with our goal being a consolation.
CH 3 - Ipswich (h) - Bogey fixture, and we lost it again. What an utterly depressing start from us. 0-1.
CH 4 - Watford (a) - On paper the hardest game of the season, I expected to be battered, but we picked up the most textbook scabby 0-1 victory ever. They dominated us but we got a late goal and held on. Fantastic way to get our first win.
LC 2 - Wigan (h) - Oldham all over again, but this time it took penalties. Very concerning performance yet again.

SEP 2018
CH 5 - Aston Villa (h) - Expected us to lose this one, but yet again it was a draw. We always draw with Villa. 1-1.
CH 6 - Brentford (a) - I had a team meeting to raise spirits during the international break and it paid off, we looked ourselves in this game, becoming the first away side ever to win at Brentford's new Lionel Road stadium. 1-3 it ended, and it could've easily been more.
CH 7 - Blackburn (h) - Surely not 5-1 again? Tell you what, not too far off, 3-0 up by half time again, Blackburn got a consolation. 3-1 it ended.
CH 8 - Fulham (a) - Always a tough fixture. We turned around a deficit before having the same done to ourselves, I went for a really attacking formation and it paid off as we pinched a late draw.
LC 3 - QPR (h) - It just had to happen didn't it? The play-off final rematch. QPR once again had the last laugh, stealing it in the 119th minute. I'm beginning to hate these.
CH 9 - Birmingham (h) - Always seem to struggle in this fixture for reasons I can't explain. Bradshaw got a penalty to win it 1-0. Not impressive but it'll do.

OCT 2018
CH 10 - Rotherham (a) - The scene of good memories for us after the last day drama last year. It wasn't going that way though as Rotherham took the lead in the 65th minute, only for Tom Bradshaw to turn in a hat-trick fairly late on. An absolutely brilliant win.
CH 11 - Cardiff (h) - Newly promoted Cardiff so we ought to be winning really. We did. Same as the Birmingham game, 1-0 through a late penalty. 16 points from 6 games.
CH 12 - Hull (a) - Good run brought to an end at Hull, but we probably edged the game and that's something in a game this tricky.
CH 13 - Nottm Forest (h) - Forest are the shock league leaders under Sven xD but we raced to a 2-0 lead in the second half. But we somehow lost it. I was absolutely livid.
CH 14 - Huddersfield (a) - Huddersfield, along with Watford, are having a shocker upon relegation. They went into this game bottom of the table. I never know how to approach these games, I feel like a mug if I don't win it because I know they're a decent side, but they keep losing. We went ahead early on, only for Huddersfield's Michael Hefele, a clogger centre half to pull out a 30 yarder. Imagine my horror when he stepped up for a free-kick just before half time and he put that in as well. Absolutely unbelievable. We come out for the second half and Huddersfield run straight up and make it 3-1. I am seething with our defending. Fuck it, it's time for the ultra-attacking 4-2-1-3 I played at Fulham and got a point with. It leads to a frantic game, but we get a goal back in the second half. We're allowing them chances too, but we're in the ascendancy and we equalise with 10 minutes to go. Huddersfield concede possession from kick off, we get it up the other end and Armstrong curls one in from the corner of the box. The most extraordinary game and turnaround I've seen on FM17 yet. We hold on, meaning it's two games on the spin where the home team has been two goals ahead and lost.

NOV 2018
CH 15 - Sheff Weds (h) - I have a lovely record against these and go into it expecting victory. Sheff Weds have their shooting boots on though and pull out a couple of screamers. The game ends 2-2 though, we equalise twice and really, we ought to have won.
CH 16 - Reading (a) - Always a tricky game. Not this time, we walked it. 1-3 it ended. Bradshaw's absolutely on fire.
CH 17 - Bristol City (a) - Another tricky game, Bristol City took the lead but Bennacer equalised just before half time and that's how it ended. A fair result I'd say.

 

58f959c2b2c1e_201819LT1.thumb.PNG.0a49c73731d05c5cb6ead333c330573f.PNG

 

NOV 2018
CH 18 - Charlton (h) - Two poor performances against these last year, rectified in style. A perfect counter attacking performance where our 39% possession yielded 4 goals to their 0. A very satisfying win.

DEC 2018
CH 19 - Walsall (a) - Walsall have been surprisingly decent so far, and they caught us out with two quite early goals. No matter what we do, we hardly ever keep the goals out. We got one back shortly after conceding the second, before a push all second half for an equaliser was rewarded with 10 minutes to go as Dacks long range effort hit Armstrong and flew in. Two minutes later, a long ball was messed up by Walsall's centre half and Armstrong was in, he dallied, waited for Bradshaw and slipped it across to him who tapped into an empty net to give us all three points against the club we signed him from. What a turnaround. 2-3.
CH 20 - Bolton (h) - We took the lead in the 2nd minute but were behind by the 13th. Bolton happened to be a poorer version of ourselves, defensively atrocious and they had no answer to Bradshaw and Armstrong. We ran out 5-2 winners. We're on fire.
CH 21 - Millwall (a) - We came, we dominated, Armstrong and Bradshaw conquered again. We won 0-3. 4 wins on the bounce, unbeaten in 8 games, and 25 goals in those games. We look like we could get an automatic place, let alone play-offs.
CH 22 - Derby (h) - Back down to earth with a bump. I had lost this fixture the last two years and even despite our form and Derby's struggles in 21st, it was yet another defeat to them. 2-3 this time. What a blow.
CH 23 - Sunderland (a) - Sunderland turned up wanting revenge for the play-offs. They just happened to get even more heartache as Dack gave us a typically scrappy, December Championship 0-1 away win. The players fans booed off. Moyes sacked after the game.
CH 24 - Brighton (a) - These have gone from a team I always beat to a bogey team. A really poor performance was coupled with a 2-0 defeat. A chance to get into the top two bottled.
CH 25 - Swansea (h) - Massive game, 3rd v 5th. Swansea took the lead on the stroke of half time through Gomis, but we went straight up and won a penalty. Bradshaw hit the post. Gutted. You could sense it wasn't our day. Not until Ryan Williams picked the ball up and drilled a cross in for Bradshaw to poke him on the hour, and from kick off we won the ball and did it again. 2-1 to Barnsley. That's how it finished. A massive win decided by the best fucking Welshman on the pitch. Bradshaw is having the season of his career.

JAN 2019 (IN; Juha Alanko, TPS, £200 & Teddy Lia Okou, free)
CH 26 - Ipswich (a) - Ah, a busy period of the season. What do I specifically not need? How about, erm, a fixture against the team I never ever beat. More Portman Road misery. 3-1 to Ipswich, truly useless performance from us. Defensively all over the place.
FAC R3 - Scunthorpe (h) - Championship high flyers against League One high flyers. Changed about 5 players. Backfired. 0-0 draw and an unwanted replay. Absolute rubbish.
CH 27 - Watford (h) - Watford have picked up a little but they're still 18th, but they did go into this game with a new manager, largely unknown Bulgarian Martin Kushev. It was a very good, end to end game, which we took the lead in, then went behind, then equalised late on. 2-2. A fair result really, and not a bad one as I maintain these have the best squad in the league.
FAC R3r - Scunthorpe (a) - Changed a couple less players. Scowen sent off after 25 minutes. Dawson sent off for them on 40. Stretch the play, finish these off. Santos prodded home with 20 to go, but we blew it in injury time. I was absolutely livid. Extra time absolutely knackered us and we won it with the most hilarious goal. A total cock up of a pass from Alanko hit the corner flag, Pellenard reacted immediately with a cross and Armstrong prodded in, this coming in the 119th minute. Newcastle at home awaits, but I'm not happy with us needing 210 minutes to beat Scunthorpe.
CH 28 - Reading (h) - The first half was astonishingly bad, yet somehow, despite our one shot all game, we lead it 1-0. Reading pushed and pushed and got their equaliser late on, but to my amazement we stole it through Watkins with 5 minutes left. That's the kind of game that tells you you might just be onto something special.
CH 29 - Aston Villa (a) - Another ground I struggle at. Not this time I thought. We edged the first half and hit two goals late in it through Bradshaw and Dack. Irritatingly Veretout thumped one in just before the break. We fell apart in the second half and VIlla ended up winning 4-2. What an absolute disgrace. Two games this season now we have lost from two goals ahead. There are always goals when we go here but this was cruel, and worrying.

 

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3rd in the table as we're about to leave January. I expect no more business but I wouldn't mind another defender. Macdonald isn't doing that well this year. It might be time to give O'Connell another go. I paid £2mil for that bloke.

Last game I felt so optimistic at 0-2. Forest were 0-0 with Walsall, Fulham were 0-1 at home to Brighton, and Forest had just lost Assombalonga to Watford - good move for us as they won't bring in anyone better than him and we don't have to play Watford either. But we lost and Forest won, so Forest right now almost feel like an irrelevance. Top two has become the aim for me now. I can't be this close to it and not go for it.

It isn't too long until the crucial game at home to Fulham.

For all we've gone a bit off lately, we have done very well again I think. To be pushing for the automatics with our wage budget relative to the league is impressive, but it means nothing if you don't actually get promoted, as we discovered last year.

My prediction, right now, is another play-off loss. I think we have that bottlejob tendency and have shown it a few times. We're too leaky at the back and rely too much on outscoring the opposition - which I do kind of force as I think we're not good enough individually to control games either.

Bradshaw and Pellenard have both signed new contracts which were both needed. Bradshaw is the league's top scorer with 26 goals. Armstrong has 15. But it's worrying beyond those two as Dack as the only other player with more than 2 (he has 5). Watkins and Santos have both had poor seasons. Hedges and Williams are both playing well without scoring too many, and Lawrence keeps getting injured. Bennacer is an exciting player and I expect us to lose him in the next year or two for a few million, but the bloke is a walking yellow card.

February looks quite favourable on paper though.

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1 hour ago, Dan said:

Think of him as a slightly poorer Vardy, although he's got years to develop so could become something similar.

 

Yeah the first year was heading for a disaster, but it seemed like the minute I changed my wingers from support duty to attack duty, we started ripping teams to pieces. The most minor of tweaks made the biggest of differences.

Barnsley don't have a bad squad really. It isn't brilliant but there are some very steady players. Davies, Yiadom, Roberts, Bradshaw, Williams, Armstrong, James are all very steady players at that level.

Out of interest, how is Mowatt doing for you? I've found him to be the biggest disappointment out of everyone. He's got attributes that made me think he could develop into possibly a lower PL player yet he can't get near my team, and I'll probably end up releasing him at the end of this season if he doesn't pick up.

He's not amazing but he does like in with goals for me, I signed Josh Harrop on loan with a bee to permanent for 300k so once I lose Marty James I'll have to use Mowatt to replace James and Harrop at the tip of my diamond.

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16 hours ago, Danny said:

He's not amazing but he does like in with goals for me, I signed Josh Harrop on loan with a bee to permanent for 300k so once I lose Marty James I'll have to use Mowatt to replace James and Harrop at the tip of my diamond.

I brought in Stephen Quinn who was quite a steady performer and I wanted Mowatt to end up taking his place, but it's never really materialised. I have given Mowatt chances but he just doesn't do nearly enough for me.

Dack has been an inspired signing on a free. He's surprised me actually. I thought after doing it have I been a bit too tight here but he's ended up being well worth taking a punt on.

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Bradley Dack's progression on this game is what everybody expected him to do in real life. Always goes on to play in The Premiership on most people's saves. The only downside is the real Bradley Dack hasn't got the memo and probably doesn't deserve to be starting for Gillingham any more with his lacklusture performances.

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22 minutes ago, Aaroncpfc said:

Bradley Dack's progression on this game is what everybody expected him to do in real life. Always goes on to play in The Premiership on most people's saves. The only downside is the real Bradley Dack hasn't got the memo and probably doesn't deserve to be starting for Gillingham any more with his lacklusture performances.

Bradley Dack was really good for my Derby side in my progression from Championship to top half Prem. Had to get rid eventually but he was class, scored a lot and usually important goals off the bench. Big soft spot for him

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Late bit of transfer business and what a piss take. Adam Davies joins Middlesbrough for £1.4mil. He demanded the move. They're in League One, may I point out.

They came in with a bid and he wanted out, and neither me or my captain Marc Roberts could talk him around.

He's been a pretty good goalkeeper but not good enough to justify risking the dressing room over, so the deal has gone through and Watford's Giedrius Arlauskis has been brought in as a replacement for just £50k. He's of a similar standard really.

It's definitely a position I intend to improve upon if I go up though. I've got my eye on Smithies who is at QPR, has a release clause of £3.8mil which is mental, and a relegation release clause of £2.3mil - would be great if I could activate the latter while waving goodbye to them as we go up.

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1 minute ago, Cannabis said:

You leave my boy Adam Davies alone, he can do what he wants. 

Quite shit how he's jumped ship to go to League One though and especially to Middlesbrough who must be in free-fall on your save. I can't say that I know too much about Arauskis but at £50,000 he's surely going to be a coup.

David Bentley was my goalkeeper when I managed Barnsley, maybe he's worth having a look at along with Smithies?

Middlesbrough are coming back up but it's bizarre when we're in with a very realistic shout of going up. I could understand a bit more if we were bottom half.

Arlauskis is a bit older but he's got some solid attributes. Davies was quite a solid all-round keeper, Arlauskis I think is a better shot-stopper but not quite as good an organiser. Then again you could hardly call us organised before hand.

I'd have looked at someone like Bentley but I couldn't afford him. I have about a million left but our wages are well in the red, think it's the new Bradshaw and Pellenard contracts that have done it.

I need another forward promotion or not next year. Santos has gone to utter bobbins this season.

For all I've made some decent signings, a lot of my bigger money ones haven't really worked out.

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xD Middlesbrough's team in League One is...

 

Davies

Naughton - Sainsbury - de Roon - Taylor

Winks - Ramirez - Pasalic - Clucas

Joselu - Vellios

 

They should be getting literally 110 points. That's a side that I'd fancy to come top six in the Championship. The midfield is criminally mis-positioned though.

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On 4/25/2017 at 2:26 AM, Dan said:

NOV 2018
CH 18 - Charlton (h) - Two poor performances against these last year, rectified in style. A perfect counter attacking performance where our 39% possession yielded 4 goals to their 0. A very satisfying win.

DEC 2018
CH 19 - Walsall (a) - Walsall have been surprisingly decent so far, and they caught us out with two quite early goals. No matter what we do, we hardly ever keep the goals out. We got one back shortly after conceding the second, before a push all second half for an equaliser was rewarded with 10 minutes to go as Dacks long range effort hit Armstrong and flew in. Two minutes later, a long ball was messed up by Walsall's centre half and Armstrong was in, he dallied, waited for Bradshaw and slipped it across to him who tapped into an empty net to give us all three points against the club we signed him from. What a turnaround. 2-3.
CH 20 - Bolton (h) - We took the lead in the 2nd minute but were behind by the 13th. Bolton happened to be a poorer version of ourselves, defensively atrocious and they had no answer to Bradshaw and Armstrong. We ran out 5-2 winners. We're on fire.
CH 21 - Millwall (a) - We came, we dominated, Armstrong and Bradshaw conquered again. We won 0-3. 4 wins on the bounce, unbeaten in 8 games, and 25 goals in those games. We look like we could get an automatic place, let alone play-offs.
CH 22 - Derby (h) - Back down to earth with a bump. I had lost this fixture the last two years and even despite our form and Derby's struggles in 21st, it was yet another defeat to them. 2-3 this time. What a blow.
CH 23 - Sunderland (a) - Sunderland turned up wanting revenge for the play-offs. They just happened to get even more heartache as Dack gave us a typically scrappy, December Championship 0-1 away win. The players fans booed off. Moyes sacked after the game.
CH 24 - Brighton (a) - These have gone from a team I always beat to a bogey team. A really poor performance was coupled with a 2-0 defeat. A chance to get into the top two bottled.
CH 25 - Swansea (h) - Massive game, 3rd v 5th. Swansea took the lead on the stroke of half time through Gomis, but we went straight up and won a penalty. Bradshaw hit the post. Gutted. You could sense it wasn't our day. Not until Ryan Williams picked the ball up and drilled a cross in for Bradshaw to poke him on the hour, and from kick off we won the ball and did it again. 2-1 to Barnsley. That's how it finished. A massive win decided by the best fucking Welshman on the pitch. Bradshaw is having the season of his career.

JAN 2019 (IN; Juha Alanko, TPS, £200 & Teddy Lia Okou, free)
CH 26 - Ipswich (a) - Ah, a busy period of the season. What do I specifically not need? How about, erm, a fixture against the team I never ever beat. More Portman Road misery. 3-1 to Ipswich, truly useless performance from us. Defensively all over the place.
FAC R3 - Scunthorpe (h) - Championship high flyers against League One high flyers. Changed about 5 players. Backfired. 0-0 draw and an unwanted replay. Absolute rubbish.
CH 27 - Watford (h) - Watford have picked up a little but they're still 18th, but they did go into this game with a new manager, largely unknown Bulgarian Martin Kushev. It was a very good, end to end game, which we took the lead in, then went behind, then equalised late on. 2-2. A fair result really, and not a bad one as I maintain these have the best squad in the league.
FAC R3r - Scunthorpe (a) - Changed a couple less players. Scowen sent off after 25 minutes. Dawson sent off for them on 40. Stretch the play, finish these off. Santos prodded home with 20 to go, but we blew it in injury time. I was absolutely livid. Extra time absolutely knackered us and we won it with the most hilarious goal. A total cock up of a pass from Alanko hit the corner flag, Pellenard reacted immediately with a cross and Armstrong prodded in, this coming in the 119th minute. Newcastle at home awaits, but I'm not happy with us needing 210 minutes to beat Scunthorpe.
CH 28 - Reading (h) - The first half was astonishingly bad, yet somehow, despite our one shot all game, we lead it 1-0. Reading pushed and pushed and got their equaliser late on, but to my amazement we stole it through Watkins with 5 minutes left. That's the kind of game that tells you you might just be onto something special.
CH 29 - Aston Villa (a) - Another ground I struggle at. Not this time I thought. We edged the first half and hit two goals late in it through Bradshaw and Dack. Irritatingly Veretout thumped one in just before the break. We fell apart in the second half and VIlla ended up winning 4-2. What an absolute disgrace. Two games this season now we have lost from two goals ahead. There are always goals when we go here but this was cruel, and worrying.

FEB 2019
FAC R4 - Newcastle (h) - Expected little and got little. We went 2 down fairly early on, although to our credit we did push them in that second half and ended up losing only 1-2. Another cup run over, although this is an area I'll focus on more if we ever actually go up.
CH 30 - Brentford (h) - This is normally always a brilliant game. It delivered again, but sadly, we were atrocious. Brentford completely battered us and I think the 2-3 result actually flattered us. Slowly but surely giving on the top 2.
CH 31 - Blackburn (a) - Got a good record in this fixture. Blackburn went ahead early on but Bradshaw pegged them back immediately. It was a very open and stressful game, but neither side found a winner and 1-1 it ended.
CH 32 - Fulham (h) - If we want to sneak into the top two, we HAVE to win this. These are 2nd. Fulham looked the more likely early doors but we broke around the half hour mark and Tom Lawrence gave us the lead. How we went into half time ahead I have no idea, Fulham hit the woodwork four times. The second half was more of the same, but we slowly got more into the game and looked like doubling it, before being done on the sucker punch as Joel Asoro equalised with 15 minutes left. I had to attack them, and we got the unlikely reward in the 89th minute when Armstrong poked in from a scramble. Injury time was nervy, but we held on for what was for me, our biggest win of the season.
CH 33 - Birmingham (a) - Back down to earth with a bang. My most hated fixture along with Ipswich. We took the lead early on but ended up conceding twice in about 40 seconds, before Birmingham sealed it on the counter in the second half. It ended 3-1. An absolutely appalling result. We lose here every single year.
CH 34 - Rotherham (h) - We had to win this. We did. We dominated the game and Rotherham's resistance was broken with 20 minutes to go. 1-0 it ended, but it ought to have been more.

MAR 2019
CH 35 - Cardiff (a) - We have well and truly fallen apart on the road and this was the best evidence of it yet. A dreadful performance and yet another 3-1 loss. Defensively all over the place, discipline out the window as Bennacer is finally sent off, and our top 2 hopes dead bar a big turnaround in form.
CH 36 - Hull (h) - Hull are up there and this is tricky. I changed to a 4-2-3-1 for this game as I think we've been found out a bit in 4-4-2. We turned in a better performance, but we failed to hold onto a lead late on and drew the game 2-2. Another red card from us as well.
CH 37 - Nottm Forest (a) - Forest are going up. They're comfortably top of the league. They haven't wobbled despite the loss of their top scorer. Our record here, however, is pretty extraordinary, with wins of 4-6 and 1-5 in the last two seasons. Advantage Barnsley early doors as Forest's early pressure isn't capitalised on and we take the lead against the run of play. The first half is quite one sided but we go in ahead, to my surprise. We get more and more into the game in the second half and we eventually add a second, before hilariously, a third, and then a fourth. Top of the league away and we're 0-4 up. This is unbelievable. Our record here is inexplicable. Forest get one back in injury time but it ends 1-4. What a fantastic win.
CH 38 - Huddersfield (h) - From top of the league away, to bottom of the league at home. How Huddersfield are bottom I have no idea. I'd actually take their squad over Forest's. We look brighter early doors but to my shock (no, I wasn't shocked AT ALL by this) we went behind just before half time through Nahki Wells. I have to attack, and we equalise through Bradshaw on the hour. We keep going at them but it just isn't coming, one last gasp chance arrives though as Williams crosses for Bradshaw, the keeper comes out and punches it clear and Ryan Hedges volleys from 30 yards. The ball flies into the net. It's been a while, but this goal I genuinely jumped and and shouted YEEEEEEEEEEEEES at. It was unbelievable. To win a game with a goal like that is as good as it gets. We made hard work of it, but it's another 3 points.
CH 39 - Sheff Weds (a) - Another very big game between two teams near the top. We got a penalty after 2 minutes but Bradshaw missed it and from then on I knew we'd blow it. We ended up 2 down and a man down after just 20 minutes. It was a disaster. We didn't disgrace ourselves with 10 men, but ended up losing the game 4-2. We need a bit of a miracle to make the top 2 for me.

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So we're 5th.  It's very tight around the top, but we just aren't playing well enough to overthrow Fulham.

I do however think we will make the top six, which admittedly after that Cardiff game I didn't. Once again we're the leagues top scorers, but our defensive record is laughable, 62 from 39 games is a worrying record and if we do go up, the defence has got to be my focus.

The thing going in our favour is we have a nice run-in. There is only one team I play that are above 10th in the table, and that's our next game - and it's a big one, it's Bristol City at home. A bit of de-ja-vu as I seem to recall us playing a very similar style game with them late on last year - a case of Bristol City really needing something.

I predict we will finish 4th.

Edited by Dan

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April 2019

CH 40 - Barnsley vs Bristol City
Possibly the trickiest remaining game, against a side similar to ourselves - one that score and concede loads. Bristol City are pushing for a play-off place, but they face an uphill battle. We were brilliant here, we started slowly but I decided I had to really get at them and it paid dividends. Bradshaw and a double from midfielder Josh Scowen saw us win the game 3-0. A big statement. I'm confident of a top six place now.

CH 41 - Charlton vs Barnsley
Totally blew this one last year and this year looked to be going the same way when Tony Watt gave them the lead within ten minutes. We attacked in the first half but it came to little and Luke Freeman added a second just before half time. Absolutely embarrassing to crumble like this away from home yet again when we need a result. We got one back very early in the second half through Mowatt but more shoddy defending arrived soon after as Watt added his second to make it 3-1. Williams got one for us, but it wasn't enough, and we lost the game 3-2. So disappointing, yet unsurprising at the same time.

CH 42 - Barnsley vs Walsall
We have to beat these. We have no excuses. I want this game sealing as early as possible so I can lower the tempo in the second half as we have a trip to Bolton just two days later. We deliver. Bradshaw hits a couple against his former club in rapid succession and we glide through the second half, adding another couple in the process. Bradshaw with a hat-trick against the club we bought him from. It ends 4-1 to Barnsley.

CH 43 - Bolton vs Barnsley
Biggest game of the season so far. Bolton have been impressive this year and have surprised me, they sit 10th in the table which is a good effort for a newly promoted side. They start the game on fire and take a deserved lead after 10 minutes. It's more of the same from us. We were such a good away side earlier in the season now it's the same story every time. Not this time. Williams equalises and we go in level at half time. Bolton have taken the initiative again in the second half though and look more likely, but we break with 20 minutes to go and Williams crosses in for Bradshaw to prod home. The most typical Barnsley goal ever. The rest of the game is tense, but we hold out for an enormous three points, with Fulham and Sheff Weds both losing in the process. Hull win, putting them 2nd and us 3rd. Forest are promoted by beating Birmingham.

CH 44 - Barnsley vs Millwall
Must-win. This is a very favourable fixture, and like I said, we had a good run-in. Hull go to Cardiff, which is good for us as Cardiff are on fire lately. We absolutely dominate the first half, but we're foiled, Millwall have defended well and we've had little about us in the final third. 0-0 at half time, same story in Cardiff. Then on the hour, the dream - Lawrence free kick is headed in by Bradshaw for an astonishing 40th goal of the season, while Cardiff take the lead at home to Hull. We are 2nd in the table. This really could happen. The rest of the game isn't quite so one sided, and Millwall do get a couple of chances, but we hold out for another 3 points. We have hit form exactly when we needed to, and Hull ended up losing their game 2-1. We are in the driving seat.

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We have Derby away and Sunderland at home.

Hull have Watford away and Forest at home.

We're above them with in my opinion, the better fixtures. Hull have got the favourites for the league, and the actual winners. OK, Watford haven't delivered, but they still have players who can damage you. We play two sides who have absolutely nothing to play for, although my record against Derby is sketchy at best, and Sunderland would love some revenge for last season.

But we could be promoted with a game to spare. That was absolutely unthinkable a few weeks ago.

Edited by Dan

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Hull actually have them both at home, and have beaten Watford at home 3-0. Fuck sake. Pressure back on us.

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What a thoroughly excellent job done. We dominated from start to finish. Absolutely fantastic. Faultless performance.

This is it. Beat Sunderland and we are promoted.

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You better finish this soon @Dan only reason i'm still up 

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1 minute ago, Cannabis said:

So that makes two of us xD

 

He's a bloody tease

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