Out of the Box Barnsley – Part 10: The Barrera of Bad News

Good day and greetings to you all. It’s that exciting time where a new season dawns and we all ask that important question – who is this a regen of? Jesting aside, Barnsley were a distant second to Arsenal last season but I’m sure we’re going to go one better this year. Let’s recruit!

I’m going to put this unpopular opinion out there – I hate regen goalkeepers. This is obviously Peter Schmeichel but they are so poor to start with I’m relying on somebody loaning him and making him good. They won’t.

Can you think of anybody less like to be called Gerard Digby than Ian Wright? Honestly, Off the ball, Pace and Shooting being 20 is pretty much the dream. Get good quickly please.

The Champions League qualifying draw is usually fraught with minnows but somehow we’ve landed the big fish. Heading back to the San Siro already…

This is a pretty good signing if I say so myself. He can play either wingback position or just the defensive midfield role. Stamina is 20 and nothing else matters.

Let’s win the Charity Shield! Arsenal are hopefully on the decline.

Lovely Georgi equalises against AC Milan but it’s not a win and it means we’re going to have to go for the jugular in Milan.

Old Trafford…what a start to the season this is. The Man Utd team has quite a German look about it including Oliver Kahn in goal and Fredi Bobic up front. Either way, they are no match for the Barnsley entertainers who win 4-2. The early signs are promising.

Sheffield Wednesday are tough to put away but once we injure Michael Oakes it becomes a lot easier. Ra Juhl gets his first goal for the club and we are living it up. Darren Purse gets the award for most pointless elbow to the head in history.

The standard two months out for Georgi. It eases the non-EU issue for two months.

The good times continue away at West Ham. Despite the early concession to Kitson the B squad turn it around and Billy Mac gets sent off for singing love is all around and forgetting to change the word to Christmas.

84,633 people witness the birth of a European superpower. Or maybe we just had a good night. Bakayoko and Barrera are looking like a spicy strike force.

A shock indeed.

Urgh Arsenal. And two long away trips. But it could be worse.

Chelsea next and despite having Roberto Baggio, Zola and Michael Owen on the books they’ve snapped up a former player of ours on a free. He was quite average for us, went to Darlington and scored an obscene amount of goals before triggering his non-promotion release clause. Probably not welcome back in Darlo.

Anyway, we go ahead in the first half after Michael Owen goes off injured early doors. Some bloke called Gardner equalises

Tottenham have been a bane of our existence but today, it all clicks. Iversen pegs us back but in the second half that devastating front two smash them to bits.

Oh howay man. Settle down.

It’s all going quite well at Pride Park but with 10 minutes to go the wheels fall off and out of nowhere we end up losing.

Straight back to winning ways against Kiev. A solid start.

We spend an hour trying to break down Leeds, Boxall motors gets sent off and Signori scores from the resulting free kick. We should win but a man with an odd name equalises and that’s a disappointing one.

Liverpool get battered. The sad news on the back of this is Liverpool sacked Kevin Keegan, so that romance didn’t last.

We make Preston looks like ordinary boys. That’s a tedious one.

Barrera, the lad from Chile, warms us all up in Belgrade. His hat-trick makes it 6 from 6 available in the Champions League.

More needless points dropped this time in the North East. We lead, we give it away. Nee win.

Our next game after the International break will be Newcastle. They’ve a perfect 10, and if they win they’ll wear a 12 point lead. Won’t you save a little Toon for me?

Will you stop being a twat? We’ve got big games to attend to.

Balls. They’re really quite good. John Curtis is obviously great but I’ve never seen Eddie Howe be good, it’s absolutely dripping with irony.

Back in the Champions League and a useful point at Highbury gives us every chance of going through. Three games to go though.

Yet another lead is squandered though, this time at Wolves. We fail to put them away and who else but Gabriel Batistuta equalises with the last kick of the game. They have him and Savicevic up front which is bizarre.

All of that leaves us 14 points adrift of perfect Newcastle. Who wins 12 out of 12? That’s monstrous.

We’ll take a quick visit to nerd corner but please do join us next week for the always important middle months of the season. Toodles for now.

Was he always this good?

Seeing as Newcastle are absolutely flying here it seems like a good time for them to be the focus of nerd corner. It is of course a subject I know a bit about.

The 97/98 season was a strange one for Newcastle. After the whole 12 point thing in 95/96 we signed Alan Shearer for 96/97. That went so well Kevin Keegan left in January 97 to be replaced by Kenny Dalglish who went on a good run and we finished 2nd, securing Champions League football. Big things were therefore expected for 97/98, especially considering Dalglish’s success at Blackburn just a few years earlier proving he could do it somewhere other than Liverpool.

It was therefore rather strange that Dalglish dismantled the squad. Out went Les Ferdinand, David Ginola, Peter Beardsley and even Robbie Elliott. In came Stuart Pearce, John Barnes, Alessandro Pistone, Shay Given, Timouri Ketsbaia and Jon Dahl Tomasson. Alan Shearer got badly injured in pre-season the same day as Ferdinand was sold and the game plan to play the promising Tomasson off Shearer went out the window. Asprilla is still here though, one of the best players in the game on ability – hold that thought.

Anyway, whatever reasons for this overhaul are not relevant to us here. After such a strong finish to 96/97 and Dalglish having a whole summer to stamp his authority on the squad, we were still fancied to be in the mix for the start of 97/98.


Asprilla 180
Shearer 180
Pistone 160 (-1)
Albert 155
Barnes 152
Given 152
Tomasson 148 (-1)
Pearce 145
Rush 90
Beresford 130

Asprilla was sold in November to be replaced by Andreas Andersson. Gary Speed signed from Everton, whilst John Beresford was sold to Southampton to be replaced by the younger Andy Griffin.

Patch (same unless listed):

Andersson 145
Speed 148
Griffin 110
Barnes 150
Rush 60

Obviously the big drop off from 180 to 145 in Asprilla to Andersson isn’t great and Griffin gives away 20 to Beresford but neither would be first choice – Pearce or Pistone can play left back and are better. Ian Rush being reduced to 60 from 90 is entirely fair, he was hopeless but Barnes had a good season, I’m not sure why he was docked 2 ability points really. The arrival of Speed is the big plus, but with Rob Lee (143), Batty (154) and Barnes, central midfield was already quite well taken care of. Speed is on a midfield left in the Everton side on the original, he’s a left/centre on the patch.

Fundamentally the Champions League money means they get a decent bank balance and turn out strong on either version, although like all the big sides if they drop out of the Champions League after signing a lot of players on high wages the drop off is massive.

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