Monday, 20 February 2012

A Striking Situation

With the recent lack of goals coming from the forwards department in recent weeks, The View From The Red Zone looks back at a selection of strikers from past years that have shone (or not) in front of the Oakwell faithful.

In my eight or so years of watching Barnsley play, I have never seen a striker who I believe can score 20+ goals and perform at a consistently high standard throughout the season, and I believe this is what is holding us back at the moment. Kicking the list off is a striker who we have to go all the way back to 2005 to see in a Reds shirt...

Paul Hayes

The first man on the list is Dagenham-born Paul Hayes, who came to Barnsley with high expectations after a magnificent 2004-05 season with Scunthorpe United, scoring 20 goals in 51 appearances for The Iron. A hard-working striker who gave his all for the club and scored seven goals in his first season, helping the South Yorkshire club to play-off final glory at the expense of Swansea City. He was always a grafter but never had the end product, despite scoring the opener in that famous victory over The Swans in Cardiff. He never really settled in to his surroundings at Oakwell and found himself shipped back to Scunthorpe in March of 2007.

Hayes went down in Barnsley folklore with this volley.

Three years after leaving Barnsley, Hayes found himself pulling on a Reds shirt again in 2010 - but this time to an unsuccessful loan spell in which he failed to find the net in seven games. In his time back at the club he did however show the same effort that he did in his first period at Oakwell and was very unlucky to wrongly have a 94th minute equaliser ruled out away at Swansea.

Istvan Ferenczi

Deemed as Paul Hayes' replacement, 'Stan' started his career in England with a bang, scoring six goals in his first seven games. The pick of these goals being a lovely curling effort in a televised game against Stoke City. Ferenczi made a name for himself due to his ability in the air. He scored a fair few headers in his time with the Yorkshire outfit - notably against Blackpool and Preston in which his goals helped the team to victory.

Although he had great power and strength, he never really took off and only chipped in with six goals in the 37 games after his impressive scoring run, which eventually saw him transfer-listed by then manager Simon Davey. This baron run may have been down the fact that his attacking partner, Peter Rajczi, had gone back to Hungary after his loan deal had expired. Had Rajczi not gone back to his homeland, we may have seen more high-calibre performances from the tall Hungarian.
Rajczi (left) and Ferenczi formed a formidable partnership when playing together.

Kayode Odejayi

Odejayi joined Barnsley in May of 2007 from Cheltenham Town. He went through a rough spell in his first season at Oakwell, being booed off the pitch at half time at home to Southampton after missing three one-on-one chances to score. Despite being publicly backed by defender Bobby Hassell and manager Simon Davey, Odejayi failed to recreate the form that earned him a £200,000 move to Barnsley.

A big build meant that Odejayi was never easy to knock off the ball and his electrifying speed caused defenders no end of problems, but his finishing left something to be desired. His terrible inability to put the ball in the net on a regular basis lead to him being labelled a donkey by a majority of fans. However, in March 2008, the 6 ft 3 in striker went down in Barnsley folklore as he rose highest to head home a superb Martin Devaney cross in the quarter finals of the FA Cup against Chelsea at Oakwell. This goal eventually proved to be the goal that knocked the holders out. His prominence was short-lived though, as in the semi-final of the competition he missed a glorious chance to equalize having been put through on goal by Brian Howard.


Scoring against Chelsea in the FA Cup quarter-final tie at Oakwell in 2008.

Iain Hume

A £1.2m signing from newly relegated Leicester, Iain Hume came to Oakwell with sky high expectations and started off in astute fashion, scoring just five minutes into his debut in 2-1 loss at QPR.
Effort was never a thing he lacked and this was shown in his performances through 'til the beginning of November - chipping in with three more goals vs Derby, Doncaster and Sheffield Wednesday. A downside to Hume's game was his inevitability to always be found offside. However there were more advantages than disadvantages to his game, until that game.

On November 8th 2008 in the 35th minute of a heated derby between Barnsley and Sheffield United, Chris Morgan purposely elbowed Hume in the head leaving the Canadian with a life threatening fractured skull.

Hume, moments after he sustained his injury.

Hume returned to action in the first home game of the 2009-10 season against Coventry City. He was never the same after returning to action and scored only five goals in his time with Barnsley after that. He'd lost many of his attributes and most notably he was pulling out of headers and tackles, wary of possibly suffering another injury. At the start of the 2010-11 season he was shipped out to Preston North End on loan and scored four goals in 14 games. He's since gone on to join them on a permanent basis.

Hume is a totally different player at Preston.

Daniel Bogdanovic

One of the most prolific men on this list, 'Boggy' started off in fine form with a goal on his debut against Ipswich. The tall striker had a little bit of everything in his game - strength, pace, finishing, awareness, and like a lot of foreign footballers in England, there was an element of greed. Bogdanovic looked to be the striker that the Oakwell outfit had been desperate to find for years, until the greedy side of him came out.

After scoring and impressive 16 goals in 45 league games for Barnsley, he rejected a new deal with the club to join South Yorkshire neighbours Sheffield United, whom he had 'supported as a boy'. Sheffield United were relegated the following season, with Bogdanovic scoring only five goals throughout the campaign and gaining the nickname 'Daniel Leagueoneovic' from Barnsley fans (This due to the fact that United were relegated to League One).

Since leaving Barnsley, his career has spiralled downhill, with his latest appearances coming for lowly League One team, Rochdale.

His career may have been so much better had he shown an ounce of loyalty.

Danny Haynes

Signed from Bristol City for only £200,000 in January, Haynes was another striker who had high hopes at Oakwell but never lived up to the expectations. He started off his Oakwell career in blistering form, scoring three goals in his first five games - including a brace in a 2-0 win away at local rivals Doncaster Rovers - as well as having two further goals chalked off for offside against Swansea and Leicester.

After scoring in the victory at Doncaster.

His main attribute was always his speed and was the main reason he was usually able to beat a man, by sprinting past with ease. His finishing was never the best it could be however he had a fantastic scoring record for the remainder of the 2010-11 season to say he was played out on the wing. He eventually left Oakwell with a record of six goals in 32 appearances. After only playing a handful of games in the 2011-12 season, he was shipped out to Charlton Athletic - of whom he played for as a youngster. This came after a supposed bust-up between the player's family member and another player's family member.

Craig Davies

The last player on the list, Craig Davies, has started his footballing career in South Yorkshire with a bang. A free agent after leaving League Two champions Chesterfield, he joined the Reds as Hill's second summer recruitment.

After picking up an injury at the start of the season, Davies didn't really start performing until late October, and when he did, he started with a blaze of goals. His first goal coming in a 2-1 home defeat to Bristol City. Following this, he hit another seven in seven to move him up to 3rd in the scoring charts. This run of form stopped after the new year and since then he's only scored twice. Davies doesn't do easy chances though. Having missed several 1-on-1s, he's more than made up for those with screamers against Peterborough, Leeds and Nottingham Forest. He is definitely looking like the striker that so many fans have missed gracing Oakwell in past years. His strength, height and ability to strike the ball so hard make him one of the most feared strikers in the league. All in all, another gem that Keith Hill has uncovered and will have to tie him down with a long term contract.

Scoring a contender for goal of the season against Peterborough.

The rest of a bad bunch

There have been contenders for other bad strikers on this list, but the two who offered nothing accept for the one goal each are a Peruvian ponce and a not-so-great Dane. Yes, the two players here are two acquisitions from the worst manager I have seen manage Barnsley, Simon Davey. Both signed by the Welshman at the start of the 2007-08 season, nobody had really heard of either of them which left thoughts pondering upon the Barnsley fans of whether or not they could perform to the standard needed at the Championship level. Evidently, the answer was no, they could not.

The Peruvian, Miguel Mostto didn't even look like a footballer, never mind a striker. His shooting was off, he was a slow starter and he just needlessly gave possession of the ball away. The only thing he ever contributed to the team was an equalizing strike in a home game with Watford which spurred the team to go on and win 2-1. His strike partner at the time was a Danish player going by the name of Kim Christensen. Another player who wasn't physically or mentally ready to play in such a demanding league but chipped in with a very important goal to give Barnsley a point away at Charlton Athletic. Despite his height of 6 ft 3 in, he failed to be a dominant presence in the air. After playing 11 times for Barnsley, he went back to his native Denmark where he has remained since.

Two of the worst strikers to play at Oakwell since promotion from League One?

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Bobby Hassell v Scott Wiseman

As the Barnsley game was called off this weekend due to a frozen pitch, I thought it would be wise to spend my free time productively, so The View From The Red Zone brings you its first of many Barnsley FC posts, and it's a topic which has been heavily disputed by Barnsley fans on both social networking sites and football forums.
The question I want answering is of who the better fullback is. The term 'age old question' wouldn't seem out of place here, despite the matter having risen only a few months ago. Two very similar players in the fact that they're natural right sided fullbacks, yet very different players based on their attributes and style of play.

Bobby Hassell

The first of the two players in question is the ever-present Bobby Hassell, who is currently the longest serving player at Oakwell having been at the club since July 2004. Brought in by Paul Hart at the start of his reign, the 'Ginger Ninja' as he is known by many Barnsley fans, has survived eight years and five managers in his time at the 'well. His 'loyalty' has been repayed by the Barnsley faithful naming him Sir Bobby and chanting his name throughout matches. However, is it really loyalty or is he just not good enough to find a better club?

Since his arrival he has kept his place up until recently, holding off players such as Neil Austin, Rob Kozluk and the now Stoke City first team right back, Ryan Shotton. In his time he has put in some sterling performances and popped up with some goals too, seven in as many seasons to be precise. For me, his best games have come when he's playing at centre back, rather than right back. The 1-1 home draw last season against play off champions Swansea springs to mind. A make-shift central defence consisting of Hassell and Nathan Doyle produced a glittering performance to limit Swansea to just the one goal and 'Sir Bobby' was first to every tackle. It was in that game too that he scored his latest goal for the Reds.

More of a defending fullback rather than an attacking one, he's never been known for his whipped crosses and taking of chances - evident in the home game against Millwall a few weeks back. What he doesn't offer in pace, he makes up for with 110% effort and commanding tackling. As of late though he has showed little of his qualities which have resulted in him losing his place in Keith Hill's starting eleven. Towards the end of 2011 he put in a great display in the 4-1 annihilation of Leeds United, but take that away and his season has been riddled with mistakes. The worst performance I have seen in a Barnsley shirt this season has come from the number two - away at Leicester - where he showed hesitancy in everything he did, he didn't react quickly and just really didn't look like he knew what he was doing. This is something I feel Keith Hill has picked up on and if so, it will be a tremendous feat should Hassell regain his starting place under the Hillcroft revolution.

Hassell's time at Oakwell could well be drawing to a close.

Scott Wiseman

The 2nd player in the debate over who the better right back is, is 26 year old Scott Wiseman. Brought in as Keith Hill's 3rd summer recruitment from old club Rochdale along with Matt Done, 'Wisey' has done an adequate job so far in the short period of time he's been playing and has recently managed to establish himself as the first choice right back.

The way in which Wiseman differs from Hassell is that he is more of an attacking fullback and loves to bomb forward and get a cross in. Not only can he play as a right back, but he's also shown that he can perform at a high standard down the right flank as a winger. His cause to be one of the best fullbacks to grace Oakwell is only improved by his lightning quick pace. As a winger he poses a constant threat to defenders and as right back he doesn't give wingers an inch of space to maneuver - both down to his speed and acceleration. Two of his better games have come as a winger in South Yorkshire derbies against Leeds United and Doncaster Rovers. He also puts in some marvellous performances from fullback. The home fixture against Derby County stands out. His first Barnsley goal came in this fixture - a sublime chip to put the Reds 3-0 up.

The downside to Wiseman's game is that he leaves a massive hole at the back when he gets forward. Scoring is all good and well but that's not his job. If creating opportunities at one end of the field leaves you exposed to conceding at the other, is it worth it? At 26, he doesn't have the most experience in the world and this is his first taste of Championship football, so the odd exposure is bound to happen.

Could Wiseman become a Barnsley legend?

So who would I choose?

The player I feel is the better of the two is Scott Wiseman and he would be my choice for right back. My reasoning for this is that in this league you need to have pace about you and Wiseman is one of the fastest players at the club. A lot of people would disagree saying that experience is the key. I partially agree. Experience is always handy, but experience comes with age, and the older you are, the more you lose your pace. Both players have their advantages and disadvantages, though I feel Hassell's disadvantages outweigh his advantages and vice versa for Wiseman. A determining factor in my choice here would also be the form of the two this season. Basically, Wiseman has had more better games this season than Hassell has.