BREAKING NEWS :Barnsley FC were not ready to be promoted back to the Championship,. Leon Wobschall give 3 good reason

Were Barnsley actually prepared to be promoted back to the Championship?

The honest answer is no. Their supporters were aware of this, and those in positions of authority were likely to be as well.
Yes, the Reds’ play-off semi-final defeat at Bolton on Tuesday had the elements of pain that you would expect from such situations, and there was sadness after winning the battle but losing the two-match War of the Roses.

However, there was a sense of inevitability about things, even down to how Reds defenders were punished for further fitful qualities when they added to their litany of poor recent set-piece concessions just before half-time of a 3-2 win but 5-4 defeat on aggregate.

It came after Barnsley’s charity match at Oakwell four nights before; the club has kept two clean sheets since late November and conceded nearly 50 goals since Christmas. Therein lies a narrative.

Similarly, the squad’s contractual overview.With numerous important talents out of contract and obviously on their way to pastures new, what would Barnsley have had in the building if they had gotten their act together and been promoted in any case?

Barnsley's Sam Cosgrove (left) celebrates scoring the Reds' third goal of the game during the Sky Bet League One play-off semi-final, second leg at Bolton. Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.

Herbie Kane and Devante Cole, whose form has slipped, are expected to depart, along with Jordan Williams and potentially Nicky Cadden.

With Liam Roberts and John McAtee’s loan periods coming to an end, there’s a good likelihood that six key Bolton players will be gone before the start of the 2024-25 season.

Let’s be honest: unless recruitment was exceptional, the Championship could have been a disaster the next season.

And that’s not even counting the fact that a fresh face will be in charge of a nasty section that can quickly destroy reputations.

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Barnsley’s raison d’être is ultimately to acquire young players, develop them for a few years, and then sell them on.

Many may argue that there’s nothing wrong with that. In fairness, the club’s recruitment department has shown an eye for quality on multiple occasions during the last decade, but how many big players stay for more than three or four years?

Bolton Wanderers' Aaron Collins (right) celebrates scoring their side's first goal of the play-off second leg with Barnsley (Picture: PA)

That’s the trick. Without it, you can’t build.

Retaining a strong core of leading players to eventually build something sustainable in a Championship that is becoming increasingly competitive by the season is not Barnsley’s style.

Their true focus is player development and recruitment, as opposed to incremental table growth, as seen at clubs like Luton and Coventry. That’s the bottom line.

For a long time, the Reds’ defense has been subpar.

Yes, Donovan Pines’ injury, which occurred against Bolton in a league game at Oakwell on March 5, was unfortunate. In reality, Barnsley’s season did not recover after being pegged back at the death in that 2-2 draw.

Creating a tried-and-true backline takes patience. Barnsley relied on the great axis of Mads Andersen, Liam Kitching, and Bobby Thomas in two tense play-off games against Wanderers last May.

In the most recent doubleheader, they were everything the current core defense trio was not.
So, by consensus, Barnsley’s class of 2023-24 was lacking at the back and certainly not Championship ready.

Bolton Wanderers' Eoin Toal heads home their second against Barnsley in the play-off semi-final second leg. The Reds conceded an alarming number of goals from set-pieces this season. (Picture: PA)
There were also discernible difficulties at the top. By February 3, Cole had already scored 17 of his 18 goals.

Meanwhile, Sam Cosgrove scored three goals in two play-off games, matching his total from the regular season.

Nonetheless, the striker’s recent form is a positive sign. Barnsley will likely need him.

Cole is absent in 24-25.
Given the troubles at both ends of the game, it’s no surprise that Barnsley hobbled into the end-of-season lottery and were eliminated at the point most observers predicted – with manager Neill Collins already out.

The club’s late-season form was almost diametrically opposed to their stats in the celebrated promotion campaigns of 2018-19 and 2015-16, when the Reds ended with a wet sail and Oakwell was a lively and happening place to be.

Yes, Barnsley advanced to the play-offs during this campaign. But it won’t be remembered fondly.

Off-the-field issues such as the club’s exclusion from the FA Cup in November and their unsuccessful recent search of an Austrian head coach have fueled displeasure.

The Reds’ hierarchy must minimise such errors in the future. Fans’ patience is becoming thin, despite the board’s good intentions and openness and transparency.

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