Are Barnsley in free fall after losing top stars?

By Tom Sargent

Rotherham host Barnsley at the New York stadium in their upcoming match, with both sides having contrasting fortunes in the league this season.

Barnsley are flying high in 8th after 27 games whilst Rotherham are rock bottom of the Championship after a torrid season which has seen them looking for a third permanent manager of the season.

However, much of the pre-match talk is about Barnsley losing many of the players that not only got them promoted from League one last season, but have helped the club to a highly attractive position in the league.

The Oakwell side first lost leading scorer Sam Winnall who joined Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Wednesday earlier in the month.

The bad luck didn’t stop there and Barnsley soon realised the poisoned chalice that comes with over-achieving, when Championship rivals Aston Villa snapped up midfielder Conor Hourihane and defender James Bree earlier this week.

Marley Watkins added more woes to the club when he handed in a transfer request which was firmly rejected by the club.

Watkins joined Barnsley in June 2015 after two seasons in Scotland with Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

Manager Paul Heckingbottom has softened the blow of losing his top players by bringing in Matty James from Leicester on loan for the rest of the season.

Meanwhile there are strong reports that midfielder Alex Mowatt is close to joining the reds from Leeds.

Heckingbottom stated on Barnsley’s website that “It’s time for new heroes”. He also pleaded with club’s fans, many of whom were left furious at the club’s willingness to sell their top players so easily:

“People have to realise where we are as a team and as a football club in terms of the pecking order in this league. We’re never going to be able to compete financially and when players come to the end of their contracts their heads are going to be turned by money.”

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