In no way am I saying that I expect 3-4 away wins with ‘keepers head-butting opponents, multiple penalties and full-backs playing in goal every week, but Barnsley’s mind-boggling match at Rochdale in the League Cup might just be a prelude to a crazy season.
Keith Hill’s transfer policy of bringing lower league players who will give 100% week-in-week-out saw Barnsley finish fourth bottom last time out, which is no bad result for the club. He seems to have ditched this ethos though and instead of gambling on players from smaller clubs has plumped for some bigger and more exotic names.
The marquee signing of the summer was Egyptian international Mido, who has washed up at Oakwell after a turbulent career around Europe and North Africa. Predictably though he has pulled a hamstring in pre-season and won’t be seen for a number of weeks yet.
A replacement was needed so in comes a man with a CV nearly as long as the Egyptian’s, Marlon Harewood, recently returned from a short spell in the second tier of Chinese football. Add to this Jacob Mellis who was sacked from Chelsea for letting off smoke grenades and Kelvin Etuhu who spent some of his time in prison last year for assault and you have a real motley crew of new signings.
Surely a goalkeeper given a first team opportunity after years warming the bench in the Premier League will at least show some professionalism. Sadly not, Ben Alnwick marks his debut by giving away a 90th minute penalty for head-butting an opponent and is duly shown the red card.
It is quite a task that Hill has set upon himself to mould this band of misfits and mentalists into a team capable of Championship survival and hopefully even a push further up the table and one that will be intriguing to see how it pans out.
If he can muster up the same kind of commitment and endeavour that saw the side survive last year then he could have quite a team on his hands, because all his signings undoubtedly have talent. If, however, some live up to their less than savoury reputations then it could be a disastrous season at Oakwell especially given the lack of reinforcement in defence.
Once again the Tykes are the bookies favourites for the drop with prices as low as 5/4 for a bottom three finish but that will bother no one at the club as it has been a similar story ever since the return to the Championship in 2006. The only thing the club is bothered about is keeping its name on the Championship roster, and to do that, these big name players will have to prove their worth.
Written by Phil Haigh, We Are Going Up’s Barnsley blogger
Phil tweets at @philhaigh_