Things weren’t going so well for Barnsley until Lee Johnson arrived at the club, the club won their two games before Johnson officially took over and extended that run to six wins when the former Oldham man was on the touchline. Only one win followed amidst a run of draws but the signs were much better going into the new season.
Last Season: League One (12th)
Manager: Lee Johnson
GKs: Adam Davies, Christian Dibble
DFs: James Bree, George Smith, Marc Roberts, Lewin Nyatanga, George Williams, Alfie Mawson, Mason Holgate, Jack Cowgill, Callum Evans, Bailey Gooda, Cameron Scott, Matty Templeton
MFs: Josh Scowen, Conor Hourihane, Paul Digby, Marley Watkins, Brad Abbott, Ben Pearson, Joe Rothwell, James Bailey, Ben Drennan
FWs: Sam Winnall, George Maris, Conor Wilkinson, Mike Phenix
In: Alfie Mawson (Brentford), Marc Roberts (Halifax Town), Marley Watkins (Inverness), Conor Wilkinson (Bolton Wanderers – Loan), Ben Pearson (Manchester United – Loan), Joe Rothwell (Manchester United – Loan)
Out: Luke Berry (Cambridge United), Nana Boakye-Yiadom (Released), Martin Cranie (Huddersfield Town), Kane Hemmings (Dundee), Dale Jennings (MK Dons), Leroy Lita (Released), Darren McKnight (Shrewsbury Town), Jean-Yves M’voto (Released), Rhys Oates (Hartlepool United), Ross Turnbull (Leeds United), Milan Lalkovic (Walsall)
First Six: Chesterfield (A), Burton Albion (H), Millwall (A), Bradford City (H), Rochdale (A), Shrewsbury Town (H)
Likely Lineup: (4-4-2) Davies – Bree, Mawson, Nyatanga, Smith – Scowen, Pearson, Rothwell, Hourihane – Winnall, Maris
A word from…Martin Devaney
On his move to Barnsley It was a strange one really, at Cheltenham I was ever present in the team, I was a young man who was used to being on the teamsheet, I did well under John Ward and then teams started coming in for me when I decided to go on a free.
Watford decided to sign me, I was 24, moving to London and the initial few weeks were tough, I was living in a hotel, it didn’t feel right but I got my head down. Aidy (Boothroyd) had put a good team together but Ashley Young was the player in front of me, he was a Watford lad and he started off like a house on fire. There were times I felt I could have come on and there were teams I hadn’t signed for who were still after me, it was just an accumulation of things.
I was honest with Aidy, I said I needed to play, Ashley was scoring left, right and centre so I decided to go to Barnsley, they’d been after me in the summer, London was so expensive and despite earning good money it’s still expensive compared to where you’ve come from. I spoke to Andy Ritchie, I liked what I saw and he told me I’d play every week, he said all the right things and I knew they’d been keen before.
On all three of his teams getting promoted in one season Yeah that was funny, my father-in-law told me it wasn’t the Da Vinci Code, it was the Devaney code. Cheltenham, Barnsley and Watford all went up, it was a great season for everyone!
I look back now and I wouldn’t change anything, my time at Barnsley was fantastic, I really enjoyed my football, they saw the best of me like Cheltenham did. Every year, we weren’t a massive club in the Championship, we were always going to be around the bottom half but I’m proud to have been part of a team that kept surviving and had a great cup run. We became a good team in that league and we became an ever present side.
On needing some experience You really do need them, I’m doing my coaching badges now for that reason and in that dressing room we did have some strong characters, disciplined lads like Bobby (Hassell). There was a nucleus there of lads who had been there and knew what it took.
Anyone who came in saw that and we knew we’d have to be at our best every single game, especially away. At home we could give anyone a go but we always knew it would be tough away from home. (Simon) Davey came in and we did well under him for a few years and then Mark Robins took over.
On his love for the club Since I moved I’ve been here 10 years here, I got married here, had two boys here and they go and watch them with me. I’ve worked with the academy at Barnsley, that’s been part of my transition into coaching, I love the club, I have great memories here and the fans have always been fantastic with me. Being around the area, the fans always mention that cup run. I do miss it but that’s why I stayed here, I’ve loved working there but I’m moving on this year. Hopefully one day I might be back there, we’ll see.
On a potential promotion Honestly, from watching them last year I would say no. I watched them a lot but they weren’t good enough at either end. Lee (Johnson) came in and settled things down but I still didn’t think they had enough quality across the pitch. When you come out of football you don’t know as much about the players coming in so you never know until they all get together and cross that white line on a Saturday. I hope they are good enough and people say Lee’s a good coach so hopefully they can have a good season.
On needing some consistency Most clubs do it now, they move players on and bring new ones in. I’ve seen it myself, people come in with reputations, some live up to them and some don’t. As a fan now, I want them to be in that top half and give themselves a chance at the end of the season.
At the moment, everyone will think they can be up there because that’s what fans and supporters do. It can be difficult when players are changing all the time, but finances are tight throughout the league, players are holding out for more money butt he longer you leave it the best players have been snapped up. You need that time to gel, to get a bond in the dressing room as well as on the pitch. You start to become good friends and you’ll run through brick walls for each other. You get to know the ones you’ll have to put an arm around and you’ll know the ones who can fight for themselves, that’s always important, especially in pre-season.
The Offside Rule Podcast Prediction: Lee Johnson clearly had a big impact at Oakwell last season and has brought in some good players to help his push. Alfie Mawson was coveted and the two loanees from Manchester United have plenty of talent, Barnsley could easily make the play-offs this season.
Key Player: Ben Pearson – Like his manager, Pearson also had a big impact when arriving from Manchester United in January. He scored on his debut and now the midfielder is back for another season alongside fellow Red Devil Joe Rothwell.
One to Watch: James Bree – The 17-year-old made his break into the Barnsley first team last season and with Mason Holgate departing for Old Trafford, the right-back should get many more chances to impress this season.