Barnsley midfield still lacking

Thursday 26th September 2013 22:01

David Flitcroft (right): Needs more from midfielders like Kelvin Etuhu (left)

David Flitcroft (right): Needs more from midfielders like Kelvin Etuhu (left)

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Barnsley FanZoner Chris Ellison believes the Reds need to follow up the loan signing of Jack Butland with a change of personnel in midfield.

The latest battering to be inflicted on the Reds has been met with mixed reviews, with some showing faith in our gaffer and others asking why is this happening?

One qualm that is shared by every supporter, though, is that something needs to change.

Immediately after the 5-1 defeat to Watford last weekend I believed that new personnel was the way forward, and David Flitcroft in his post-match interview was quick to acknowledge that the performance of the players was, in his own words, 40% below standards and that he would not stand for such incompetence.

For me this swung the pendulum back in his favour because, unlike many managers before him, he made no excuses and seemed to be genuinely hurting at our demise.

Prior to the game the Reds directors had scheduled a meeting with Flicker for Monday, and following the result many expected and indeed wanted the plank to be walked.

Instead, though, the manager was given the vote of confidence and told that he must not spend money on new recruits and try to turn fortunes around by solving the problems that already exist at the club.

This caused a bit of a stir and again another difference of opinion. Where do the problems lie? Some say we need more goals so should bring in a striker, some think that defence is our Achilles heel, and some just believe a total revamp is needed.

Well, it is of my personal opinion that only little changes are needed for a big reward. I will explain my views.

I have said in past posts that the defence will come good once there is more stability and fitness within the squad, and even though the table shows that we have conceded 22 goals in eight games (five more than anyone else), I stand by my beliefs.

To me our issues lie just in front. Midfielders, it has to be said, are the hardest-working players, having to operate at both ends of the field for 90 minutes, but I have said it before and will say it again: Stephen Dawson, David Perkins and Kelvin Etuhu cannot play together.

Despite different styles, all three are defensive-minded players and have scored only six goals between them in 158 games. This is very worrying yet Flitcroft persists with 3-5-2 when he may as well play an 8-2 formation.

No wonder the defenders and strikers have their work cut out and are taking all the flack; if we are playing with three midfielders whose job it is to win the ball back and not to supply creativity then this to me only invites teams to have a go at us.

By playing further up the field with players who can make things happen then opponents will find it more difficult to break us down.

Ultimately it is Flickers' decision and he has to do what he sees fit to save both his job and our season.

The first thing he has done is raid the loan market and brought in a quality goalkeeper in Jack Butland. A lot of Reds fans are bemused that we are still looking for someone between the sticks but I think the recruitment of a keeper who is a regular England international at Under-21 level and has also represented the senior squad is a fantastic and shrewd move by the manager.

The only problem with this decision is that it will upset a lot of Luke Steele fans who believe that he is still our number one and to thank largely for our survival last year.

Steele is a loyal servant and passionate to Barnsley, but he is a keeper currently struggling with a bad back - hardly surprising given the amount of times he bends over to pick the ball out of the net - and is bang out of form; therefore having a high profile player like Butland is extremely healthy for competition.

The word is that two more loanees are due at Oakwell before the weekend's match away at Leicester. It will certainly be interesting to see which positions are strengthened.

Whatever happens, let us all put last week out of our minds and see this as a new beginning. Up the Reds.

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