Comment: Why Barnsley FC are being shown the way by Doncaster Rovers

GOING DOWN is bad enough, going down without a fight is reprehensible.

Proper fans, when push comes to shove, will tolerate the former. It happens; it is as much a part of footballing life as cup runs, joyous final-day pitch invasions and glorious days out at Wembley.

Barnsley fans should know. They have experienced all of those above emotions and a bit more besides.

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Which brings us to January. Not a month you usually associate with relegation, in particular. In the Reds' case, it is impossible not to.

Oakwell, home of Barnsley FC.

At the start of the month, Barnsley and South Yorkshire neighbours Doncaster Rovers found themselves in pretty dire situations at the bottom end of the table in their respective divisions.

It has scarcely improved too much since. But at least, there is a kernel of hope at one club, if not the other.

The Rovers hierarchy publicly pledged that funds were available to improve the squad after a uniformly awful first half of the season and have kept good on their promise at the very least, mindful of how 2021 was a complete and unmitigated disaster.

They were not hollow words either, to be fair. Five players have been brought in so far, including the experienced duo of Adam Clayton - who counts Leeds United, Huddersfield Town and Middlesbrough among his former clubs - and Kieran Agard.

In terms of turning the tide and inspiring a 'Great Escape' from relegation, it might work or it might not.

What Rovers will hopefully have, should they lose their League One status, is two senior players in Clayton and Agard who are up to speed and ready to play their part in a fightback next season in an unforgiving League Two and play key roles in the dressing room as well.

Given his strong debut in the heart of the backline at MK Dons last week - when he helped Rovers record their first away win since May - defender Ollie Younger may be one to watch too.

There's a touch of hope at least going forward.

In contrast to Rovers, Barnsley have done next to nothing and are meekly accepting their Championship fate en route to one of the most pitiful relegations seen across this county for a number of years.

This month's focus appears to be on recouping some income ahead of a relegation which looks a case of when not if. At this rate, around when the clocks go forward. Maybe before.

With a number of players having relegation clauses, many rival clubs are unlikely to dive in during this transfer window and will instead wait for the fire-sale in the summer and strip the carcass.

Should that happen, Barnsley will be left with little in the cupboard, just young, confidence-sapped players. It has the potential for a second grim pre-season in a row already and we are still only in winter.

As a short-term stop-gap - and to maybe bring on some young players in midfield who are not fit for Championship purpose at the minute - a move for Clayton would have surely made sense. He would have been someone useful in League One season as well and a senior dressing-room voice for others to rally around. It is fair to say he will not be on a king's ransom at Doncaster.

Barnsley are listing in a tortuous season which has been akin to death by a thousand cuts.

It is not only their supporters who crave hope. Crucially, so do the players. To have any chance of changing the narrative of the season, they will know deep down - despite all the public utterances to the contrary - that it can only be achieved through the arrival of new faces. Footballers are quite savvy in that regard

The current set of players - many of whom are very young - have taken too much punishment. They need help as much as anyone.

Barnsley followers will accept relegation. But not what is happening at the minute, which is unacceptable.