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.

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