LAST summer, Barnsley co-chairman Paul Conway’s declaration that the club’s transfer activity represented the ‘best transfer window ever’ back-fired somewhat on the Reds hierarchy.
During the club’s autumnal malaise and haemorrhaging of points, goals and belief, it was an assertion that was open to increasing derision, with many supporters quick to make their feelings known on social media.
Twelve players were brought in from home and abroad, with the common denominator being that most were young and had next to no experience in the ultra-competitive second-tier.
To say that some have fared better than others is being kind.
In mitigation, few boards can boast of a seamless and perfect transfer policy. Even the biggest clubs get transfers wrong. From Madrid to Manchester.
The trick is learning and wising up and that is why Barnsley’s signing of Wolfsberger midfielder Marcel Ritzmaier might, just might, be significant.
We have more aims in the coming weeks to have a smaller squad and more quality and experience to help this squad – which is more helpful for me and the development of the squad here.Gerhard Struber
Described as a leader with experience by head coach Gerhard Struber, his request for the club to break their policy of signing players aged 23 and under with sell-on value was heeded on this occasion.
Barnsley have followed up with another ‘project’ signing in the loan addition of Red Bull Salzburg’s German-born teenage right-back Kilian Ludewig, 19, for the rest of the campaign, but the major watchword for Struber this month remains experience when talk turns to his dealings.
He said: “It is not the end for new players and this is the beginning and we hope that we can find other new players in the next week.
“What we need is quality. For me, it is not so important that they have experience in the Championship. The most important thing for me is the player has the right quality for our team.
“The player must have the right attitude and character and big mentality to fight to stay in the league and that they have the skills for my game idea with Barnsley.
“We have more aims in the coming weeks to have a smaller squad and more quality and experience to help this squad – which is more helpful for me and the development of the squad here.
“Now it is okay and not too big, but in the next days, we must have the right players.
Specifically on the addition of Ritzmaier, he said: “He is a player with big quality and experience. He can help us from the first second. He is a play-maker in the build-up and last third.
“He can also score and is very interesting. He is a very high-quality player and this is what we need.”
Alongside his clarity in what he wants to bring in during the window, Struber is also preparing the ground for several players to follow Cameron McGeehan out of the exit door and leave the club to boost their game-time levels and streamline the numbers in his squad at Oakwell.
Those out of his plans include Mallik Wilks, who is understood to still be in talks with Hull City, Mamadou Thiam, Dimitri Cavare and Dani Pinillos.
And as far as Struber is concerned, he is unequivocal in his view that star turns Cauley Woodrow and Alex Mowatt will be staying put.
Expecting activity, the Austrian, without Woodrow until the end of the month with a hamstring injury, added: “We have a good squad and players we will speak with and (say) maybe it is better to change the situation with maybe a loan or we sell.
“We must look in the next weeks what is best for the players with no game-time.
“We are in a good exchange with the players and the next weeks will show what is the best.”
As for the future of Woodrow and Mowatt, he added: “Cauley is injured and I expect him to be back in two weeks and it is very important that by the end of January, he can play.
“I am confident that Cauley and Alex will remain at Barnsley.”