EFL pundit Sam Parkin has suggested that teams might need to start emulating Wayne Rooney’s tactical blueprint for stopping Barnsley by matching up against them setup-wise.
Derby travelled to Oakwell on Wednesday night facing the daunting task of trying to prevent the Tykes from continuing their recent upward momentum. Barnsley had secured a seventh successive Championship win on Saturday with a 1-0 win at home against struggling Birmingham City. It was therefore always going to be intriguing to see how Rooney set up his side.
The Rams boss decided to make the bold decision to match Barnsley up exactly and played a 3-4-1-2 formation that saw them almost go man-to-man with the Tykes. It was a plan that worked as they limited the usual attacking flow and momentum that the Yorkshire club like to build up and in the end, they limited them to just two efforts on target.
Speaking on EFL on Quest, Parkin outlined that he believes Rooney made a good decision matching up Barnsley exactly in their formation and suggested that could well be the right model to follow for other clubs aiming to take points of the Tykes in coming weeks.
He said: Derby had a couple of good chances, but Wayne Rooney said it there, no teams have matched up Barnsley completely, Derby went 3-4-3 a few teams have done a 3-5-2 , and they went direct Derby. Maybe that’s the way to go about it.”
Parkin could well be on to something here and Derby certainly showed that matching up Barnsley exactly could negate the attacking threat that the Tykes were able to pose. It is a massive credit to the way that the Yorkshire club are performing that teams like the Rams are having to change the way they approach the game out of respect for them.
However, Barnsley might be concerned that other teams might follow that approach and get similar joy out of stopping them. The question will then be asked whether they can come up with a plan B, or tweak play A enough for it to still be effective whatever opponents do in terms of their shape.
Barnsley have arguably become the most tactically interesting side in the Championship in recent months, and it will now be good to see what they can come up with as a response to teams maybe having finally found a way to stop them somewhat. You would back them to come up with something different.