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Oakwell expects: Barnsley’s hopes hinge on free-flowing style

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Barnsley will be looking to turn the despair of relegation into the joy of promotion, much like their South Yorkshire rivals Rotherham did last season.

The Tykes dropped out of the Championship in confusing circumstances, with Jose Morias never really understanding his players, nor settling on a firm approach.

The disruption of losing Paul Heckingbottom mid-season didn’t help either, just adding to the fractious and disjointed approach to survival.

Daniel Stendel might not have been the first name on fans’ lips as he was announced, but the noises he’s making seem to be about right.

They have a very clear pattern of play, one talked up in the media before a ball has even been kicked.

They’ll adopt a heavy counter-pressing game with lots of football being played on the floor, similar to Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool.

Winger Ryan Hedges has already spoken of his joy at being asked to play free-flowing attacking football in training, something he believes the players are responding too.

Whilst a Plan B will always be required when up against physical, anti-football sides such as Wycombe, it will be refreshing for the Oakwell faithful to have something easy on the eye to enjoy on a Saturday.

Hedges is one of a group of players expected to rise to the occasion too.

He was in and out of the side last season, as much a victim of the ever-changing culture as anyone. In flashes, he was brilliant, especially at Oakwell against Forest where he bagged a wonder goal.

That strike in August was his last of the season though, those moments were few and far between and more often than not he appeared as a last role of the dice rather than a regular starter.

The change in direction may well suit the 22-year old and there’s little doubt one or two defences in League One will be a touch more generous than those in the second tier.

That’s not to at it is an easier league, not at all, but it might allow a developing player such as Hedges the time to morph into something other than a 70-minute show pony.

The fans will expect to be challenging in the top six, if not the top two and if Stendel’s approach is adopted quickly and efficiently, there’s no reason why that couldn’t be the case.

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