Sky Sports pundit Andy Hinchcliffe has suggested that Barnsley might have potentially gone on an impressive run of form too early in the campaign for them to sustain as they target a top-six finish.
It has been a remarkable last few months for the Tykes and Barnsley’s 1-0 win against Birmingham City on Saturday made it seven successive wins in the Championship. That has lifted them into sixth place in the table and they now have a real chance of going on to secure a top-six finish come the end of the campaign.
Barnsley also have a game in hand on both Cardiff City and Bournemouth below them which comes against Derby County on Wednesday and that could be a chance to extend their advantage on those two sides. That shows how good of a job Valérien Ismaël has done since taking over the Tykes after Gerhardt Struber’s departure early in the campaign.
Speaking on Sky Sports latest EFL Podcast, Hinchcliffe outlined that he believed Barnsley could be capable of getting into the top ten this term, going back to their game at Leeds United last term when he was impressed with their display. However, he warned they might have gone on a run too early to sustain in the top six battle.
He said: “What I always go back to with Barnsley, incredibly impressive what they’ve achieved, but am I that surprised? I remember being at the game last season when they were at Leeds and they absolutely battered Leeds and they lost the game 1-0, but they could have scored four or five.
“Their pressing, their passing they created chance after chance but didn’t take any of them and it looked like they were going to get relegated at that point and I remember Gerhardt Struber at the end of that game slumped in his technical area just sat on the bench at Leeds thinking we play that well and we don’t actually beat a team that’s actually going to go on and play in the Premier League.
“They managed to save themselves in the last couple of matches, but the way that they played in that Leeds game. There was always the thought that if they could do that consistently, they’d have a chance of maybe finishing top ten I thought would be impressive this season for them.
“But it’s just got better and better, and the change in coach as well it dosen’t seem to have knocked them off the path either, with Struber going to America. Ismael has done an incredible job.
“So again, their playing this high pressing game, quality football confidence is on the rise they’ve got the momentum. But I just wonder has it come a little too early? Can they sustain it so many games to go can they keep this going? But again, they are ticking so many boxes.”
Hinchliffe is right to praise Barnsley for their performances so far this campaign and the way they have managed to establish themselves in the top six battle. However, there might be something in the fact they have gone on a run so early and with so much time left for potential dips in form and slip-ups along the way.
However, it is certainly better to be consistently picking up the points and that is what they have been doing better than anyone else in the league in recent weeks. It will be interesting to see how they respond to the potential setback that will likely come their way before the season ends. That could make all the difference.
Barnsley do not have the pressure on them that Cardiff and Bournemouth do, and the Tykes can therefore play with more freedom. It would be a remarkable story if they could sustain their recent excellent form.