Much of the media focus ahead of last weekend’s League One games was on Sunderland’s first third-tier game since 1988. But it was fellow promotion hopefuls Barnsley who stole the show on the opening day.
Here’s why we think the Tykes could continue to rip up the third tier…
Stendel appointment bodes well
Not many fans on these shores knew Stendel’s name when he was appointed as boss in June. But on paper at least, he looks a smart appointment.
Stendel was made head coach of Hannover 96 in April 2016. And despite failing to keep the beleaguered side in the Bundesliga, he quickly bounced back.
Hannover won promotion from 2.Bundesliga in 2016-17. And though Stendel exited in March of that year, there’s no doubt the 44-year-old was instrumental in the club’s recovery.
He also helped bring through a number of talented youngsters like current Norway international Iver Fossum and powerful forward Kenan Karaman. That’s promising news for the latest crop of young Tykes.
They’ve bought quality, not quantity
Only four senior players have arrived at Oakwell this summer. And one of those – young midfielder Callum Styles – has been loaned back to former club Bury until January.
Even without the new buys, Barnsley have retained the basis of a decent Championship squad – one that shouldn’t have gone down last year.
But the additions have been savvy. Midfielder Kenny Dougall impressed in the Netherlands’ top two tiers, for Telstar and Sparta Rotterdam. He’s likely to be Barnsley’s midfield anchor this season.
Meanwhile, teenage right-back Jordan Williams was among the few bright sparks in Bury’s relegation season last term.
And pacy 20-year-old forward Gerry McDonagh is another man to watch, after good loan spells in League Two and the National League.
Next up for the Tykes is a visit to Bradford City tomorrow. The visitors are 13/10 to win at Valley Parade.
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