Get the first instalment of our 2012/13 season Championship preview
WITH THE 2012-13 n.Power Championship season kicking off in just 24 days, it’s time for VitalWatford to get down to the real business of scrutinising every club in the Championship in order to preview the forthcoming campaign. First up, it’s Barnsley.
For Keith Hill’s Tykes, the 2011-12 season was a tale of ‘what could have been’. Star striker Ricardo Vaz Te departed for West Ham United in January, promptly dragging the east London outfit to promotion, whilst skipper and midfield string-puller Jacob Butterfield missed a large chunk of the campaign through injury.
Ultimately, 21st was hardly a stupendous finish, but Barnsley rarely looked in danger of going down and even, briefly, flirted with the upper echelons of the league after a particularly good run.
Strengths: An unknown quantity. One of Hill’s main traits in the transfer market has been to utilise his knowledge of the lower leagues and scout around for rough diamonds.
Players such as Stephen Dawson (Leyton Orient), Lee Collins (Port Vale), Matty Done (Rochdale) and Chris Dagnall (Scunthorpe), have all been added in the last 12 months, whether or not they’re up to it remains to be seen.
Weakness’: Butterfield has since departed for Premier League Norwich City, leaving a huge creative void in the Tykes midfield, something that former Liverpool trainee Toni Silva will be charged with filling.
Goals will also be a problem with Vaz Te and regular Championship menace, Andy Gray, also departing Oakwell at the end of the season.
Best business so far: The addition of former Spurs, West Ham, Roma and Ajax forward Ahmed Mido on a free transfer.
It’s hard to believe the Egyptian international in only 29, but with his impressive CV, he could well prove an astute piece of business on a free transfer.
Much like Vaz Te last summer, this is Hill’s big-name gamble; will it pay off, or will he just eat the Yorkshire outfit out of house and home?!
Star man: Irish winger Jim O’Brien may not have the same big-name pull of Mido, but the former Celtic trainee is crucial to the side.
Signed on a pre-contract agreement from Motherwell in 2010, O’Brien has made 64 appearances as a Tyke, playing on the left-wing.
In: Ahmed Mido (Zamalek) free, Toni Silva (Liverpool) free, Ben Alnwick (Spurs) free, Lee Collins (Port Vale) Undisc, Jacob Mellis (Chelsea) free & Kelvin Etuhu (Portsmouth) free.
Out: David Cotterill, Nathan Doyle, Andy Gray, Jay McEveley, David Preece & Alistair Taylor (all released), Jacob Butterfield (Norwich City) undisc.
Prediction: Relegation. Hill hasn’t improved the squad and with an already injured Mido, it’s hard to see where the spark needed for survival will come from.