Where has it all gone wrong for Barnsley FC this season?

ELEVEN matches without a win, five straight defeats, no goal in the second half of a game since the opening day of 2021-22, the lowest goalscorers in the Championship with just four scorers this season and no goal from open play in eight games.

It’s been an awful run for Markus Schopp’s Barnsley. Here are the key reasons why.

Changing playing style: Barnsley had a defined and highly successful way of playing last season under Valerien Ismael, even if it was not necessarily pretty. Teams hated playing against them and the results vindicated the means.

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They squeezed the pitch, worked relentlessly without the ball, won second balls, got in team’s faces and enjoyed the ugly side of the game. They played the ball behind opposition defences and were strong at set-plays. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, surely.

Barnsley's head coach Markus Schopp. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

The Reds have looked a pale shadow of the side who were arguably the Championship success story of 2020-21. The decision to change style has backfired spectacularly and drained confidence.

Barnsley are easy to play against and the possession-based game that Schopp favours has only brought carelessness and aimlessness and it is no coincidence that many of last season’s stars have suffered. There is no clarity and cohesion.

Injuries: As a new head coach, Schopp needed injuries to leading players from last season in Mads Andersen and Carlton Morris like a hole in the head.

Andersen was outstanding and the impact of Morris was not lost upon anyone. The absence of Josh Benson has also been a blow. That said, all sides suffer injuries. The art of management is dealing with them.

Recruitment: Barnsley could not have bargained for the visa fiasco regarding the availability of Aaron Leya Iseka and Obbi Oulare, but even if they had been available, both would not have been up to Championship speed in any case. Both look punts done in a hurry as opposed to strategically made signings.

Claudio Gomes and Remy Vita are rookies with plenty to prove, while Devante Cole has made just one start in the league this season, which begs the question: ‘Why was he brought in?’

The lack of Championship-experience in Barnsley’s line-up reflects poorly on the decision-makers in the corridors of power at where there is a distinct absence of ‘football people.’

The decision not to bring in an experienced midfielder to help compensate for the loss of Alex Mowatt looks reprehensible.

Barnsley have had some poor transfer windows and the one last summer is right up there.

The head coach: The biggest factor. The bottom line is that Schopp has palpably failed to adapt to the Championship. The game plan looks muddled and players look lost. Aside from a convincing half at QPR, there has been no identity. 

Fans have been craving hope and to buy into something positive regarding the Schopp era. But 13 games in and the cupboard is pretty bare . There is no evidence to suggest that things will significantly change – other than the return of Andersen, Morris and Benson.

The fact that Barnsley have not scored in the second half of a game since August 7 conveys an inability to change things successfully from the bench and the Austrian has lost the faith of the majority of the fanbase. 

You get the feeling that some players have also lost faith in him and unlike Ismael, Struber and Stendel, he does not have the look of a leader, someone who players are buying into or following.