This article is part of Football League World’s ‘Comment’ series, this content strand is where the author of the article issues their personal opinion on the topic at hand….
This week spelt the end of Daniel Stendel’s reign at Barnsley with the club announcing on Tuesday that they had parted company with the German.
Following a difficult transfer window for Stendel and Barnsley, they found themselves second-from-bottom having only recorded one league win, which came back on the opening day. Barnsley’s transfer window wasn’t difficult in the sense of getting numbers through the door, in fact, they signed 12 players; the issue was that they failed to adequately replace their outgoings with similar quality.
Barnsley’s club statement suggested a large disagreement in ideas throughout this sequence of events with barely any explanation of the situation plus zero thanks for his efforts whilst in charge.
In the summer Barnsley lost four key first-team players: ‘keeper Adam Davies, central defenders Ethan Pinnock and Liam Lindsay, and forward Kieffer Moore, all of whom went to Championship rivals. While Stendel was at the helm to oversee these transfers, he cannot be held responsible for the club replacing his key players with ambitious punts at youth.
It is documented that Stendel was not happy with the club’s summer dealings and this led to growing tension between him and the board, leading to him leaving. Off the back of the weekend’s 5-1 defeat to Preston (Stendel’s last game in charge), he told the Lancashire Post: “You can see today over the 90 minutes that both in the small things and the big situations we played like a youth team – bad touches, fouls and mistakes.
“Preston had enough chances to scored five goals, we didn’t have so many chances.
“At half time I thought it wasn’t our best half but we were at 1-1 with one chance for us and that was a good result; so maybe we could keep going for a bit longer and make more chances.
“But the second half was the worst I can remember since coming to Barnsley.”
Stendel’s comments about his team playing like a ‘youth team’ stand to reason, with Barnsley having an average age in their match-day squads largely ranging between 22 and 23 years old, and the youngest being the fourth youngest in the division ever (22.1).
Inexperience has been a major issue for this Barnsley side, as they are struggling to close out games or hold on to scorelines for very long. Stendel had clearly voiced his concerns over the lack of Championship experience being brought in, Alex Mowatt is Barnsley’s most Championship-seasoned player with 136 appearances in the division, and he’s not necessarily a veteran of the league himself.
Having sold their key defenders, let the goalkeeper go, and sold their star striker, it should not come as a massive surprise to see Barnsley hold the worst defensive and attacking record in the league, conceding the most (22) and scoring the least (8). While many fans are unanimous in their praise for Stendel’s, there are equal amounts pointing out the straining circumstances in which he had to work, with less than ideal recruitment to replace players very much required for the battle to consolidate in the division.