After the play-off weekend which the Reds just missed out on, Doug O’Kane looks at the 23 clubs who will join them in the second tier from next season
Fulham, Last season: 18th in the Premier League. Distance from Oakwell: 179 miles.
Reds’ record: Played: 85. Won: 26. Drawn: 23. Lost: 33.
The Cottagers have now been promoted, relegated, promoted and relegated in their last four seasons as they tend to thrive in the Championship but have been double figures for points away from safety in each of their last two top flight seasons. Scott Parker looks set to remain in charge despite collecting just two points from the final nine games of the season. Alfie Mawson, the former Barnsley captain, still has a year left on his contract after his loan at Bristol City was ended by injury.
Fulham was the place where this run of success at Barnsley started, with a 3-0 win in February last year.
Sheffield United. 20th in Premier League. 16 miles. P:78. W:20. D:26. L:32.
Barnsley fans may have smirked to see both Sheffield clubs relegated this season under the management of former Reds – although both Paul Heckingbottom and Wednesday boss Darren Moore took charge when much of the damage had been done. Heckingbottom will return to his previous role with the under 23s, with Slavisa Jokanovic taking over the Blades’ first team and looking for a third promotion to the Premier League after success with Watford and Fulham. After the relegation of Wednesday and Rotherham, the Reds’ only South Yorkshire derby will be against the Blades who finished 16 points from safety at the bottom of the top flight.
West Bromwich Albion. 19th in Premier League 106 miles. P:69. W:22. D:24. L: 23
The Baggies are understood to have considered a move for Valerien Ismael
but Chris Wilder, the former Sheffield United boss, has been the heavy favourite to take over at the Hawthorns.
The Baggies sacked Slaven Bilic months after he led them up to the Premier League then brought in former England manager Sam Allardyce who was relegated for the first time in his career.
The Reds have not lost to West Brom in five meetings, including two draws in the 2019/20 season.
They may struggle to retain Brazilian star Mattheus Pereira who is expected to return to the Premier League.
Swansea City. 4th. 236 miles. P:78. W:24. D:16. L:38.
The team that knocked Barnsley out of the play-off semi-finals were easily beaten by Brentford at Wembley on Saturday, conceding both goals in a 2-0 loss in the first quarter of the game then having a man sent off in the second half.
That means the Reds will have a chance for revenge next season while making their longest trip of the season to the South Wales club.
Swansea may be a very different team by then as several of their key players, such as former Barnsley captain Conor Hourihane, are on loan while others are out of contract like Andre Ayew who netted the decisive goal at Oakwell.
Bournemouth, 6th . 241 miles. P: 44. Won: 17. Drawn: 13. Lost: 14.
It is incredible that Barnsley finished a place above Bournemouth this season.
The Cherries’ squad was recruited for more than £100million during their Premier League stint while the majority of their players are on at least £20,000 per week which is more than double Barnsley’s highest earner. They are likely to offload several of their most high-profile players this summer, while it is unconfirmed whether Jonathan Woodgate will remain in charge.
Bournemouth looked set to play in Saturday’s play-off final but lost a 2-0 aggregate lead to Brentford in a 3-2 loss, which seemed to hinge on a red card for Chris Mepham in the first half of the second leg.
Reading 7th. 191 miles.
P:78. W:26. D:21. L:31.
The Royals were in the top six from the first day of the season until their Good Friday trip to Oakwell when they drew 1-1 and Lucas Joao missed an open goal.
They would have reached the play-offs if not for Barnsley’s superb second half of the season.
They have now lost young left-back Omar Richards to Bayern Munich and will hope to keep hold of other star players such as Michael Olise, Yakou Meite and Ovie Ejaria.
The Royals made the most dribbles and were the most fouled of any team in the Championship.
Cardiff City. 8th. 217 miles. P:55. W:14. D:13. L:28.
Valerien Ismael will hope to return to the Welsh capital with a more competitive team than the side that was crushed 3-0 in his first away game and worst performance under him.
The reverse fixture in January was Mick McCarthy’s first in charge of Cardiff and saw them come from 2-0 down to draw amid controversial officiating.
The Bluebirds are the only side who scored more goals from set pieces than Barnsley last season and also the only side to win more headers. City’s top-scorer and former Red Kieffer Moore is set to play in the European Championships for Wales.
Queens Park Rangers. 9th. 177 miles.
P:58. W:19. D:11. L:28.
If form and momentum can be taken from one season to another, then the Hoops should be among the favourites for promotion in 2022. They were 19th at the end of last year but collected 46 points in the second half of the season, a tally only bettered by top two Norwich and Watford. That was despite losing 3-1 at home in March to Barnsley who completed the double over the London club and made it two victories behind-closed-doors at Loftus Road after 25 unsuccessful trips. Manager Mark Warburton has lost all five of his games against Barnsley.
Middlesborough 10th. 88 miles. P:64. W:19. D:12. L:33.
‘Go up now lads’ was Neil Warnock’s message to Valerien Ismael and his staff after Boro lost 2-0 at Oakwell in April.
The former Barnsley winger said after the game that he hoped his old club reached the Premier League but also warned
their tactics of ‘just hoofing it’ will not work for a second successive season in the Championship.
Having lost tens of millions last season, Boro released some high-profile big-earners. They include £15million club record signing Britt Assombalonga, and ex-Red Ashley Fletcher, who is set to join Watford.
Millwall 11th. 181 miles.
P:63. W:26. D:14. L:23.
Ismael watched from the stands when Barnsley drew 1-1 at the Den in October, having been appointed head coach the previous day then flying into London that morning.
They won 2-0 at home to the Lions in February, reaching their initial target of 50 points and setting a new target of eight more wins which they also achieved.
Barnsley have only lost one of their last ten league meetings with Millwall, winning seven.
Gary Rowett has already signed goalkeeper George Long from Hull and made Scott Malone’s loan from Derby permanent.
Luton Town 12th. 150 miles. P:63. W:28. D:10. L:25.
Luton went from staying up on the final day in 2020 to finishing comfortably in mid-table which is excellent progress but overshadowed by Barnsley’s far greater leaps forwards. The Hatters have lost top-scorer James Collins, who has scored four times against Barnsley, to Cardiff City on a free transfer. Their large former Barnsley contingent is dwindling after Matty Pearson moved to Huddersfield and George Moncur was released.
Martin Cranie and Ryan Tunnicliffe have been offered new deals while Elliot Lee was loaned out last season. Luke Berry, James Bree and Jordan Clark remain.
Preston North End. 13th. 84 miles. P:60 W:21. D:14. L:25.
Frankie McAvoy is the head coach after a strong finish to the season as caretaker following the sacking of former Barnsley midfielder Alex Neil.
Preston – for whom former Reds chairman Peter Ridsdale is a prominent behind the scenes figure – do not have a large budget for the Championship so have to rely on sensible appointments and recruitment.
They also have former Barnsley midfielder Brad Potts.
Deepdale was the last stadium the Reds visited in the regular season, losing 2-0 on May 1.
Stoke City 14th. 88 miles. P:62. W:23. D:17. L:22.
The Potters posted astonishing losses of £88million last week. While they have a passionate and extremely wealthy owner Peter Coates so are unlikely to face financial oblivion, they could face sanctions under financial fair play rules in the future so are likely to curb spending.
Stoke have a huge wagebill after dropping out of the top flight in 2019 and have spent big to try to return there while finishing 15th and 14th. Jacob Brown’s first season after leaving Oakwell saw him score five goals in 41 league games.
Blackburn Rovers. 15th. 62 miles. P:67. W:15. D:20. L:32.
Former Barnsley loanees Adam Armstrong and Joe Rothwell are being linked with moves away after impressive seasons.
Armstrong netted 28 goals, including home and away against the Reds, and is reportedly being chased by Premier League clubs.
Tony Mowbray is the longest serving manager in the Championship and ninth longest in the top four divisions.
He abandoned his usual possession-based style to cope with Barnsley’s pressing at Oakwell in February but saw his side lose 2-1.
Rovers were the top-scorers and top six contenders early in the season before falling away.
Coventry City. 16th. 99 miles. P:63. W:18. D:15. L:30.
When asked if Coventry could repeat Barnsley’s promotion challenge after avoiding relegation in their first season in the Championship, Mark Robins was dismissive.
“You can’t compare Barnsley to us because they paid £2million for a loan player. That is impossible for us,” said the manager who left the Reds a decade ago over a budget dispute. He is thought to have been referring to Daryl Dike, but the Reds deny paying any loan fee.
The Sky Blues could have dropped into the bottom three on April 16 but, three weeks later, finished 12 points clear. They have agreed a deal to return to the Ricoh Arena for next season.
Nottingham Forest 17th. 55 miles. P:87. W:33. D:23. L:31.
Chris Hughton suffered from direct comparisons with Valerien Ismael who took over at a similar time in the season with the club in a lowly position. But Hughton made nowhere near as much progress despite having a far more expensive squad that finished seventh a year before.
Forest were the second lowest scorers with 37 goals in 46 games. The Reds beat them three times at Oakwell in 2020 then drew 0-0 at the City Ground in January. Going to Forest will be Barnsley’s shortest trip next season after Yorkshire derbies at Sheffield United and Huddersfield.
Birmingham City 18th. 101 miles. P:85. W:26. D:20. L:39.
The Blues were saved from relegation by Lee Bowyer who took over in March from Aitor Karanka and won five out of the last ten games.
The Reds won 2-1 at St Andrew’s in December – the first time they were victorious at that level after conceding first in four years – then completed the double with a sensational Daryl Dike winner in March.
City made the made the most fouls in the division in 2020/21.
Former Barnsley captain Marc Roberts is now in the final year of a five-year contract.
Bristol City 19th. 191 miles. P:99. W:31. D:24. L:44.
When the Reds face the Robins, it will be the 100th meeting between the two clubs.
City drew 2-2 at Oakwell for the fifth time in a row then Barnsley won 1-0 at Ashton Gate for the first time in 17 attempts since 1993. Dean Holden, who replaced Lee Johnson as manager last summer, was replaced in February by veteran Nigel Pearson who won two of 14 games, losing nine. He has released ex-Reds Jack Hunt and Marley Watkins. The Robins had – by far – the fewest shots in the division last season while their expected goals tally placed them last.
Huddersfield Town 20th. 19 miles. P:76. W:29. D:15. L:32.
Before Barnsley’s season was over, two of their former players had signed for Huddersfield.
Jordan Rhodes, the former Oakwell youth player who netted twice on his return with Sheffield Wednesday in March, signed a three-year contract aged 31 to go back to the Terriers.
Huddersfield have also signed former Barnsley defender Matty Pearson on a free transfer after his contract at Luton expired.
Huddersfield have won just three of 25 games in 2021, losing 13, and finished fifth-bottom.
Derby County 21st. 57 miles. P:72. W:21. D:17. L:34.
The Rams stayed out of the relegation on the final day thanks to a dramatic 3-3 draw with Sheffield Wednesday and a late Cardiff City equaliser against Rotherham United.
The two South Yorkshire clubs went down but Wycombe Wanderers - who finished 22nd - are still waiting to see if a points deduction will be imposed on Derby after the EFL won their appeal against a financial fair play ruling that initially cleared County.
It has been widely reported that any points deduction is likely to come next season.
The Rams, managed by Wayne Rooney, won one and lost ten of their last 15 league games and finished as the lowest scorers in the division.
Hull City, 1st in League One. 60 miles. P: 105. W:42. D: 23. L: 40
The Tigers are the team who Barnsley have played the most of all of next season’s Championship clubs.
Barnsley’s last goal in front of fans was Cauley Woodrow’s winner at Hull in February last year.
That completed the double for the Reds over their Yorkshire neighbours who were relegated.
But they bounced straight back under the management of ex-Red Grant McCann while Mallik Wilks – who moved to Hull from Barnsley last year – top-scored with 19 goals.
Peterborough United, 2nd in L1. 101 miles. P: 38. W:16. D: 5. L: 17.
The Posh are back in the Championship for the first time in eight years since Luke Steele, from Peterborough, famously kept the ball at his feet in injury -time as Barnsley drew at Huddersfield to stay up.
They are the side Barnsley have played the fewest times out of next season’s Championship clubs.
The Oakwell club have won the last three meetings, including a 4-0 thrashing at London Road on their way to promotion in 2018/19.
Darren Ferguson released Louis Reed, from Penistone, but still has Marc Beevers from Higham.
Blackpool, 3rd in L1. 101 miles. P: 103. W:46. D: 25. L: 32.
Former Barnsley midfielder Kenny Dougall netted both goals as the Seasiders beat Lincoln City 2-1 at Wembley in the League One play-off final on Sunday.
The Australian midfielder did not score in 43 appearances for the Reds, who he left in June last year, and had only struck once in England football before also scoring in the semi-final win over Oxford United. Blackpool are in the Championship for the first time since 2015 under the management of Neil Critchley who previously worked in Liverpool’s academy with the likes of Herbie Kane.
The last time the clubs met, Barnsley won 2-1 at Oakwell which sent them into the Championship.