Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Is The Time Right For Jacob?

With Jacob Butterfield's impending departure edging ever closer, Barnsley will be looking to sign up a new midfield magician to replace their influential captain. This short blog post by The View From The Red Zone entails players that have moved on to be unsuccessful and options that the future star may want to consider before leaving Barnsley.

The huge gap that is bound to be left will need to be filled by someone with the flair and tenacity that Butterfield showed on numerous occasions at Oakwell. He further developed his talent and flourished under Keith Hill after being slowly drafted into the first team by ex-manager Mark Robins. He did appear during Simon Davey's reign in charge but never showed the promise back then that he did under Mark Robins and has shown at consistently high levels so far under Keith Hill's brilliant man management skills.

It's an inevitability that the gaping hole Butterfield will leave will take both time and money to fill and Hill's restricted budget means finding that kind of superstar will prove no easy voyage. This asks the question of whether Hill can resurrect another forgotten about player's career as he did with the now Premier League Ricardo Vaz Te. A majority of fans that I have spoken to all echo the same view as I do, in saying that now is not the right time for Butterfield to leave, especially after such a demoralising injury just before the transfer window when it looked certain that the scintillating young talent was going to earn his big money move and achieve his dream of playing in the promised land of the Premier League.

Will he follow in the footsteps of others?

Departing Barnsley now could prove to be an impetuous decision from Butterfield as he only has to take a quick glimpse at the careers of other ex-Barnsley players who thought the grass was greener on the other side.

Firstly we come to Brian Howard. Once dubbed a hero at Oakwell after his Anfield heroics back in 2008, but his hero status was short-lived with the fans and he endured the unfortunate change of hero to villain after joining local rivals Sheffield United. His three year spell at Barnsley was undoubtedly the best of his career in which he won a player of the year award and made it into the team of the year for the 2007-08 season. He was made captain in January 2008 which showed the club's intention to keep him, yet this was to no avail as Howard's time at the club ended in October later that year. Since then he's found himself benched at fellow Championship clubs Reading and Millwall after leaving Sheffield United only a year after signing for them. Howard is similar to Butterfield in the fact that he's an attacking midfielder that can change a game in an instance. He has recently issued a 'come and get me' plea to manager Keith Hill, which I'm sure will have provoked mixed reactions from the Barnsley faithful.

Will the legend be putting on a red shirt again this summer?

Next up is Adam Hammill, his sparkling performances in the first half of the 2010-11 season earned him a £500,000 transfer to Wolverhampton Wanderers where he started off as a regular in the team, but his inconsistency shone just like it did at Barnsley - as Mark Robins said it would - and this saw the tricky winger drop back down into the Championship with high flying Middlesbrough. As it is with most footballers these days, money could have played a massive part in Hammill's decision to move on, and as the young winger found out, moving at the first chance you get isn't always the way forward. This could be food for thought for Butterfield as he ponders over an exciting prospect at such a crucial stage in his career.

Adam Hammill was on course to be Barnsley's player of the season.

Another player who left Oakwell for seemingly bigger things was Maltese target man Daniel Bogdanovic, who followed in Brian Howard's footsteps and jumped on board the sinking ship that was Sheffield United. Loyalty was not a highly ranked priority in his life, as it was after only one-and-a-half seasons with Barnsley that he left to join their South Yorkshire rivals, whom he had 'supported as a boy'. His reasoning for joining the Blades was that he felt they had a better chance at playing in the Premier League than Barnsley and what happened? They were relegated the following season. A gruelling debut year at Bramall Lane saw Bogdanovic net a mere total of five goals from 34 games which was enough to see him shifted on once again from club to club. A surprise move to newly-relegated Blackpool saw him try to rekindle his Championship career, however this never came to fruition and he spent the latter stages of the 2011-12 season on loan at League One strugglers Rochdale and then play-off hopefuls Notts County, notching only three goals across those two spells. Currently without a club after being released in May 2012, Bogdanovic may look to heading back to his native Malta in search of first team football.

Is Bogdanovic's time in England coming to an abrupt end?

The couple that did do well
I've watched Barnsley for about eight years now and in that time I've not seen many players leave and go on to better things, but there are two players that seem to have excelled at their new clubs. Of course, it's that man Ricardo Vaz Te, a nobody in July of last year who looked as though he was going to be left to rot after unsuccessful periods in Greece and Scotland. Keith Hill saw something in him and offered him a trial. After signing a one year deal, Vaz Te went on to score ten league goals in 22 games for Barnsley before moving to West Ham - who are managed by his old boss - where he scored another ten goals including the winner in the play-off final. The other player that has gone on to do well is Jason Shackell, player of the season at Barnsley for the 2010-11 season and all things looked rosy, only for his agent to twist his head at the prospect of doubling his wages. A 12th place finish last season for his new team, Derby, and a considerably better goal difference shows how good a defender he is. The only thing that separates these two doing well and Butterfield doing well is that Butterfield seems destined for the Premier League which will of course prove to be a much harder venture for the young starlet.

My view on proceedings is that it would be foolish for Butterfield to move on at such an early stage in his career, however if he doesn't want to be here then he should go as this would benefit the team morale and his bank account, but would tarnish his reputation with some Barnsley fans as well as show total disrespect towards the club and its fans. Granted we'd all take a doubled salary if it was offered, but for the sake of his career I believe the best option would be at least an extra year at Oakwell. Only time will tell...

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