This Championship season has the potential to be the greatest one of all time given some of the huge names that are currently playing in the division. Former Premier League ever-presents Aston Villa join the likes of Newcastle United, Fulham, Queens Park Rangers, Wolves, Derby County and Nottingham Forest in the second tier.
But there’s one surprise outfit that’s quietly going about their business near the top of the table at the moment – Barnsley.
Paul Heckingbottom’s men have already picked up an impressive nine points out of a possible 15 this season and currently sit in third place, having beaten promotion-chasing Queens Park Rangers and Derby County as well as breezing past Rotherham before the international break.
Barnsley have come a long way in the last nine months, given that they were in the relegation zone of League One on Christmas Day last year. But since Heckingbottom took over initially as caretaker boss back in February, they’ve lost just three out of 23 league games, winning 13 in the process.
And what will excite fans most is that the new permanent manager has got his men playing truly exciting football– arguably the best in the league so far.
Though they’re the highest scoring team in the league, the responsibility of finding the back of the net is being very much shared at Oakwell, with no less than eight players getting among the goals so far this season.
Early results would suggest Barnsley are following both the Southampton and Norwich models this year on their return to the Championship, as both the Saints and the Canaries opted for the we’ll score more than you approach en route to their second promotion in as many years.
At 28/1, we’re not exactly urging you to go out and back Barnsley immediately. But for a team that was expected to drop straight back down to League One this year, they’re already proving a lot of people wrong.
While the talented Alfie Mawson left Barnsley for Swansea in the summer, Heckingbottom himself has been extremely busy rebuilding his side, bringing in a staggering 16 players, while overseeing the departure of seven.
And it’s his activity towards the tail end of the transfer window which will have especially excited fans in south Yorkshire, acquiring the services of Sam Morsy, Cole Kpekawa, Saidy Janko, Jake Charles, Adam Jackson and Adam Armstrong.
Barnsley fans are likely to see several of those newboys feature in Saturday’s fixture against Preston, where the Championship returnees are 5/2 to take three points away from Deepdale.
Win there, and they’re another step closer to achieving the unthinkable.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.