It’s been a merry-go-round of activity at Oakwell over the close season.
The departure of manager Mark Robins, after a rumoured disagreement with the board regarding the club’s transfer policy and budget, preceded the arrival of Keith Hill from League One side Rochdale.
Hill wasted no time in shaping a team capable of taking on the Championship’s middle order, quickly bringing in defender Scott Wiseman and midfielder Matt Done from previous club Rochdale, defender Jimmy McNulty from newly promoted Brighton & Hove Albion, along with the loan acquisition of combative utility player Miles Addison from Derby County.
This spate of new arrivals have been offset by the departure of club favourite Martin Devaney, who after six seasons at Oakwell has left to ply his trade at League One side Tranmere Rovers, along with Gary O’Connor, who having been largely instrumental for the side towards the end of last season, returned to Hibernian after his contract was terminated by mutual consent.
So, onto the pre-season friendlies. A flying start it wasn’t, with the proposed friendly with Hibernian called off due to a torrential downpour at Easter Road, and a visit from Dutch side Feyenoord cancelled due to crowd concerns, it was left for games against Hartlepool, Scunthorpe and Sheffield Wednesday.
Fifteen goals in three games. That’s a typo surely?Fifteen goals in three games, two of which coming against local rivals Sheffield Wednesday, with 3-0 and 5-0 victories against Hartlepool and Scunthorpe respectively. Has Keith Hill finally assembled a squad from meagre resources capable of pushing up the table this year? I for one am looking forward to the results.
And so onto recent developments, with the arrival of Ricardo Vaz Te on a one year contract, a player who by Keith Hill’s own admission can “light up the league on his day” and the announcement that the club’s longest serving player Bobby Hassell has been appointed captain.
The fans will now have a few reasons to be cautiously optimistic going forward into the coming season. If we can build on our promising mid-season form from last season, which saw the team lying a few points away from the coveted play-off places, then there will be no reason we can’t be up there again pushing the other teams all the way.
Is this the season to finally break free of mid-table mediocrity? Let’s hope so.
Written by Daniel Dobson, We Are Going Up’s Barnsley Blogger
Daniel tweets at @Dzzl