Is this finally the year The Bees give up on surviving in League Two and succumb to the painful reality that they are no longer good enough to be classed as a Football League team? This is their eighth season in League Two and long gone are the glory days of Guiliano Grazioli banging goals in at Underhill for fun. The past two seasons have seen remarkably narrow escapes from the drop at the end of the season, but form this year suggests that no progress is being made and their luck may be up.
Saturday’s defeat to Dagenham and Redbridge increased Barnet’s winless run to six games and their 19 goals in 22 games this season is proof of just how important Izale McLeod was to the club last season. Compare this to the 36 goals they have conceded in those games and the evidence suggests that it is not only hitting the net that is a problem this year, but protecting it has proved tough too. To his credit, Mark Robson is taking steps to remedy the situation, completing three signings in the past month, if only to provide different options and cover, rather than first team players. George Barker, a 21 year old forward from Brighton and Andy Iro from Stevenage, have both signed on loan while Dutch winger Melvin Holwijn has signed a one month contract with the Bees. Barker has never made a senior appearance for the Seagulls, but Robson believes he has the quality to score in League Two and there is no doubt he will get a chance to prove this.
While I admire his attempts to save the club, I am afraid it may be futile for Robson and in fact it may do the club a favour to drop down a division. Everybody knows how hard it is to save a club from relegation if they are bottom at Christmas, so without any major spending or some serious luck in January and the coming months, I see no way for the Black And Amber Army to rescue themselves. Despite this, every cloud has a silver lining and with so many young players in the club, it can only be damaging for them to suffer defeats week in week out, and this will undoubtedly hamper their progression.
In the Blue Square league, they would have more opportunities to score and, particularly with Edgar Davids in the ranks, play better attacking football, as opposed to the typical long balls into the wind I’ve been watching flying up the field at Underhill every weekend. However, even despite Barnet’s highly developed, poor-mans Stoke-esque style of play, they have brought some real talent to the fore in recent years. Jason Puncheon and Nicky Bailey and are the most impressive of the names to move on to bigger things, although many have moved up to League One or the Championship and done well. With many of these players, it was clear they were head and shoulders above the other players, and of course most only had one good season before being snapped up, leaving a gaping hole in the side and therefore instability at the club. If Robson and Davids can build a strong team, rather than a weak team with one or two standout players, a return to League Two would be much more sustainable, but this can only happen via a step down.
I’m not saying that Barnet should try to get relegated, but rather that relegation could be a step forward rather than backwards in the long run. I love hearing my fathers stories about the unthinkable days when Barnet used to get the occasional win, and I pray for a return to a similar age, but I see no way for that to happen while my beloved club clings desperately to Football League status. So, on that note, call me a mad man, but I want my club to get relegated so we can rebuild and return much stronger. Even if it does mean I lose my place on this blog.
Written by Danny McGovern, We Are Going Up’s Barnet Blogger
Danny tweets at @DannyGRM