A player-by-player review of Barnsley's 2021/22 season in which they finished last in the Championship.
CALLUM STYLES 46 games (3 goals)
The player who made the most appearances for Barnsley in 2021/22 encapsulates their descent from last season to this.
He looked to be growing into one of the most exciting talents in English football last season but, like many of his colleagues, his performance levels have dropped significantly.
Styles began this season hoping to play in his natural central midfield, but had to return to left wing-back where he excelled last season. He spent most of the second half of the campaign in attacking midfield, missing some big chances. He is still a 22-year-old with huge talent, the ability to play in various positions and international experience after making his debut for his grandmother’s nation Hungary, so may be one of the players sold this summer. The Reds rejected a bid in January of about £1.5million.
Styles made the most tackles of any Championship player last season but made the 12th most this time. He blocked the fourth most passes of any player in the division, and made the joint most ‘key passes’ of any Barnsley player – which led to a chance for a team-mate. He scored excellent goals at home to Birmingham then at Huddersfield as relegation was being confirmed. He finished the season wearing the captain’s armband after Cauley Woodrow was taken off on Saturday.
BRAD COLLINS 40
Barnsley’s fan-voted Player of the Year, and deservedly so.
Without the goalkeeper, who produced a series of man of the match performances in the first half of the season including penalty saves against Coventry and Stoke, the Reds would have been relegated far earlier.
He had a five-game spell of errors in late January and early February, following a month without action due to Covid-19 call-offs, but returned to much better form before his season ended with a shoulder injury at Millwall last month.
Collins would probably have finished with the most saves in the division, if not for the injury, but ended up third with 125.
He still played the most minutes of any Barnsley player.
He has a year remaining on his contract, although the club announced when they signed him that they have an option to extend the deal for another season until 2024.
It is fairly unusual for goalkeepers to be bought and sold in the EFL but Collins has been one of the best stoppers in the division this season so will have admirers.
MICHAL HELIK 40 (1)
The Poland centre-back did not quite match his standards of last season but they certainly did not drop as dramatically as some of his colleagues and, overall, has been one of the better players.
After some errors in the autumn, he was generally solid throughout 2022 before an injury in training the day before the vital clash with Reading in April ended his season.
Helik made the most interceptions in the division, the second most clearances and is in the top ten for winning headers and blocking shots. He also made the most passes of any Red.
Having been part of the Poland squad that qualified for November’s World Cup, and impressing in the Championship over two years, he is highly unlikely to stay with Barnsley in League One. The Reds need to make money through player sales and, at 26 with one year left on his contract, they would probably have looked to have sold Helik this summer even if they had stayed in the Championship. He is known to have attracted a lot of interest in previous windows, mainly from overseas.
He scored just once this season – after netting six times last campaign – with Barnsley’s set piece prowess badly fading.
He was voted Player of the Year by his team-mates.
CALLUM BRITTAIN 37
On Tuesday, it will be exactly a year since Swansea goalkeeper Freddie Woodman spilled Carlton Morris’ shot straight to Brittain six yards out then his low and weak effort was saved. That should have been an equaliser in the first leg of the very closely-balanced play-off semi-final, which the Reds eventually lost 2-1 on aggregate.
Brittain has never seemed to totally recover. He was allowed freedom to burst forward last season, with an extremely well-structured and disciplined side around him. But, with no such organisation this season, he often looked lost – unsure whether to go forward or what to do when he does, while he has been caught out defensively many times. Brittain has admitted his ‘head went’ this season, during which he openly criticised head coach Markus Schopp in October, and has clearly found it very tough mentally. He is still without a goal for Barnsley but has the second most assists this season with three – all in the early months. He blocked the second most shots in the division last season, but the 19th most this campaign, although he did block the most passes. He made more dribbles than any other Barnsley player but they often ended with him being dispossessed or lacking end product. He could be one of several first team regulars to leave this summer.
ROMAL PALMER 35 (1)
It has been a very tough campaign for the midfielder who has been at the club since he was 15.
Palmer impressed in his first full season of senior football under Valerien Ismael, next to Alex Mowatt and playing a direct style.
But he was expected to step up after Mowatt left to become the midfield leader and, at 23 with fewer than 50 senior appearances as well as no real experience around him and a poor manager, he wilted under that pressure. Palmer, and the other painfully young central midfielders, were hung out to dry by the club who should have recruited a more experienced player in that position.
But he also has to take responsibility for poor performances.
The season started well as he got the assist for the winner in the first home game against Coventry and was given a huge standing ovation by all sides of Oakwell after coming off.
But he then lost form badly, losing the ball in dangerous areas for a series of goals while stats show he is the most ‘dribbled past’ player in the squad by far.
He was close to signing a new much-improved contract last summer but, after the exit of key personnel at Oakwell, did not agree terms and he could be released next week.
LIAM KITCHING 34
The centre-back has been inconsistent, as you would probably expect from a 22-year-old who had never started above League Two and was plunged into a poor side.
Kitching, pictured right, looked hot-headed earlier in the season, receiving a three-game ban for a headbutt against Birmingham and being involved in several other flare-ups.
He had some very poor games, such as against Barrow in the FA Cup, but also some good performances – especially in recently weeks.
Starting 29 Championship games will have given him a lot of experience which he must put into practice next season as he could be one of the older defenders if Helik and Mads Andersen are sold.
CLAUDIO GOMES 32 (1)
A signing which cost the Reds throughout the season.
That is not because Gomes is a poor player – he is a neat and tidy defensive midfielder with a good engine and a terrific attitude.
But, when Barnsley desperately needed an experienced central midfielder at the end of the summer window, they signed a 21-year-old who had never played a senior game.
The loanee from Manchester City will have gained plenty of experience from his 28 league starts but it is a return to Barnsley developing another club’s players which they stated they had wanted to get away from.
He was probably Barnsley’s most consistent central midfielder, although there is not much competition, but he made a few big mistakes for goals while never totally dominating any games.
MADS ANDERSEN 30 (2)
One of the factors in their relegation for which Barnsley have been genuinely unlucky is the high number of injuries. Andersen suffered a serious knee problem in pre-season and missed the first three months, having started every league game of the previous campaign. Since his return, he has not hit the heights of last season – with a huge mistake in the harrowing loss at Nottingham Forest a low point – but it was very difficult for him to be thrown back into a badly struggling side after injury. He is still more than capable of playing well in the Championship, if not higher, and will surely have suitors this summer.
CARLTON MORRIS 30 (9)
The striker has now played for the teams with the two lowest points tallies in the Championship across the last eight seasons – having been at Rotherham when they finished last in 2016/17. He was not to blame for that relegation, as a teenage loanee who played eight games when the damage was done, and can be nearly totally absolved of blame for this one.
Morris, left, injured his knee in the opening home game against Coventry City and was out for three months. He has finished as top-scorer – albeit with seven which is the joint lowest league top-scorer tally ever, with Alec Hellewell in 1903/04.
For much of the season, he appeared to be carrying the side at least in terms of attacking threat. He has shown more than enough in his 18 months at Oakwell to suggest Championship clubs should be trying to sign him this summer, as long as they are not put off by the 26-year-old’s injury record.
CAULEY WOODROW 29 (4)
The campaign started fairly well for the striker as he was named captain in the summer, netted his 50th goal for the Reds in August then scored Goal of the Season at Stoke in September. But he would admit that, since then, his goal return has not been what he had hoped.
He was given very little service by a poor team – it is difficult to think of any big chances he missed – but has not played at the same level in the last two seasons as he did in his first two at the club.
The season might have been slightly different if he had started more than just eight games with fellow striker Carlton Morris, who also had a long injury stint. Or if he had started more than once with January arrivals Amine Bassi and Domingos Quina – the relegation game at Huddersfield – who would have created far more chances for him than in the first half of the season.
Woodrow is in the top six for shots per game in the league, and has had the most per game from outside the box.
He is the Reds’ top-scorer in the 21st century and one of their best strikers, if not the best, of recent decades.
He has said he would be happy to stay and play in League One but, as a top wage-earner and with a year left on his deal, the Reds may be tempted to accept any bids that come in.
VICTOR ADEBOYEJO 28 (3)
The striker was heavily involved under Valerien Ismael last season but made just seven league starts this time and played only 955 minutes of Championship football – less than 11 games.
He scored three goals from 15 shots, a better ratio than all the other senior strikers.
He ended a 38-game goalless run with a deflected equaliser in the win over Derby County in November then also netted in the defeats at Fulham and Birmingham before an injured jaw put him out for two months.
He has an excellent attitude and work-rate, as well as good strength and hold-up play, but a goals record of nine in 98 appearances is not encouraging – although they only tot up to 30 league games when you add the minutes together.
Adeboyejo – the outfielder who has been involved in the first team squad the longest – will turn 25 during next season and could be one of the most experienced players, if he is offered a new deal.
He must become a more regular scorer in League One.
DEVANTE COLE 27 (2)
Eyebrows were raised when the striker was given a three-year contract, despite netting 32 goals in 158 League One games during a career that had not kicked on since a loan spell with the Reds in 2014. Cole was signed under Valerien Ismael, who pushed for his recruitment after he impressed with Scottish club Motherwell, but the head coach left weeks later and was replaced by Markus Schopp who barely played him despite promising signs in his rare appearances.
He was given a chance under Poya Asbaghi when numbers were low in early 2022 but did not play well.
The 26-year-old started eight league games but none since February 2. He was at fault for Stoke’s late equaliser in March.
He scored two of Barnsley’s best goals this season but neither were particularly meaningful – volleying in at the end of a superb team move for a consolation strike against Sheffield United then a brilliant long-range curler against Barrow in the FA Cup. He has not scored in 19 league appearances.
He was on the bench on Saturday for the first time since March but young striker David Bremang come on instead.
JASPER MOON 27
The 21-year-old targeted 15 appearances this season and has nearly doubled that.
Academy manager Bobby Hassell has said he has played more than would be ideal, due to injuries to others. It has been a tough season which could either kill his confidence or make him mentally stronger.
He was used mainly in his preferred position of centre-back but also occasionally in defensive midfield which frustrated many fans.
Often a scapegoat for supporters which was harsh since he came through the academy and is in his first senior season, with mixed performances like many young players.
A regular under Schopp, he was barely used by Asbaghi after Andersen returned from injury. Asbaghi inexplicably brought him off the bench late on at his hometown club Coventry and he made a mistake for the winner. He then spent two months out of the side before starting the last three games under mentor Martin Devaney, and being one of the better players which might restore some belief.
JOSH BENSON 27
While Obbi Oulare and Aaron Leya Iseka have been rightly held up as the poor signings from last summer, the midfielder has been almost as disappointing. Acting chief executive Paul Conway seemed to prioritise Benson’s six appearances in the Premier League for Burnley last season over whether he would fit in to the Reds’ team. It was a lot to ask a 21-year-old to suddenly start dominating Championship games, with equally young players around him.
He started well – brilliantly assisting the first goal of the season at Cardiff, then played some magical passes as the Reds raced into a 2-0 lead at QPR.
But he has not been the same since a bout of Covid in September, from which he came back too soon and picked up an injury. His alleged set piece skill was never shown.
Benson was in and out of the side, with Barnsley’s midfield constantly changing and underperforming, until Asbaghi benched him and others in February when he seemed to work out his best team and began to win a few games.
Benson had not played after mix-up between him and Palmer allowed Fulham to level late on at Oakwell on March 12, until Saturday when he made very energetic cameo off the bench.
He has three years left on his contract and could be an asset in League One if he improves the physical and tactical sides of his game while playing in a well-blended midfield with others who let his footballing ability shine.
AARON LEYA ISEKA 26 (3)
While not as much of a laughing stock as his Belgian compatriot Obbi Oulare, the forward has been another flop.
A regular in the French top flight previously, the 24-year-old looked as though he might add the attacking flair and end product the Reds had lacked in the opening months – after he waited for a visa – when he netted three goals in as many games in late October and early November.
But, since then, his performances have been generally very poor.
He has not scored in 15 games since the winner against Derby under caretaker Jo Laumann and has not started in the league since January.
He could be moved on in the summer.
JORDAN WILLIAMS 24 (1)
The 22-year-old defender’s knee injury was a major blow for the Reds after he had been crucial in a run of three wins out of four in February and March, while they only won one more game when he was sidelined.
He had been producing his best consistent run of good performances in his four years at the club, playing on the side of a back three.
Williams, pictured left, has now undergone surgery and may be a vital player for the Reds next season. He is one of the fastest players, can confidently burst forward and is improving defensively. His last game, the 3-2 win over Middlesbrough in which he made a crucial last-ditch tackle, was his 100th for the Reds.
He scored in the FA Cup against Barrow, having previously netted in the EFL Cup and EFL Trophy, but is yet to strike in the league.
A series of injuries have seen him constantly dip in and out of the team in the last two seasons.
CLARKE ODUOR 21
It is two years now since the Kenyan scored the goal that kept Barnsley up at Brentford, and his career has not moved forward.
It looked as though, for the second successive season, he would not start a game after New Year, but he was in the 11 on Saturday – often exposed before a poor penalty decision went against him. After being an unused substitute for 27 successive games under Ismael, who considered him a left wing-back, he was used as a wide forward under Schopp and impressed with some breath-taking runs at QPR, but was not consistent.
But he was barely played by Asbaghi, except as a substitute in the crucial match against Reading when he was beaten for the late leveller, bringing criticism to the head coach from the stands and in the boardroom. Oduor is one of, if not the most, technically gifted players at Oakwell, but the ‘street footballer’ is yet to show how that translates into the professional game where pace, strength and tactical nous are just as vital.
He will be 23 this summer so needs to soon find a consistent position – he wants to play the number ten role behind the striker – and play week in, week out. If that cannot happen at Barnsley, a move away might be best for all parties.
REMY VITA 20
It has been a strange loan for the 20-year-old from Bayern Munich. The deal was done with two minutes left in the summer transfer window but he did not play for four months.
Schopp said he needed to develop more in training to match the physicality of the Championship then Asbaghi repeated a similar mantra before giving him a debut in January. Despite starting on the right wing, he soon became first choice left-back and generally impressed.
Many expected him to be good going forward but struggle defensively. It has been the opposite as he has defended well generally – with the most tackles per game of any Red and the seventh most in the division – but has not made a big impact in the attack.
Barnsley are unlikely to trigger their buy clause for him in League One so may now have to sign a left-back permanently for the first time in four and a half years.
AMINE BASSI 16 (2)
The loanee from Metz was a fine January signing, significantly improving Barnsley’s previously toothless attack.
He only made 14 league starts but registered the most assists of any Barnsley player this season with five and made the joint most key passes. Despite being a slight, technical player, he looked to have the strength and attitude to play in the Championship and other clubs at that level may be monitoring him.
He was sensational in the home with over Middlesbrough with two goals and an assist.
DOMINGOS QUINA 16 (2)
The Portuguese loanee from Watford added some much-needed flair to Barnsley’s attack after arriving in January. His deflected strike in the win over QPR and fantastic goal in the draw against Stoke were two of the five scored by Barnsley from outside the box this season. He made the most fouls per game of any Championship player and was also the most fouled per game. He also made the third most ‘unsuccessful touches’ per game in the division and was dispossessed the most – partly because he tried ambitious tricks, flicks and passes but also because he could be sloppy in possession. Also in top ten for dribbles per game.
MATTY WOLFE 16
One of the few success stories from a miserable season.
The 21-year-old midfielder, who has been highly-rated during his decade in the academy but struggled with injuries, played for Reds’ sister club Esbjerg in the first half of the season then was a regular in the centre of Barnsley’s midfield from January.
He was partly at fault for some recent goals and chances, but that it is to be expected of a young player put into a badly struggling team in a challenging position on the pitch.
Wolfe looks a real talent for the future and must aim to dominate League One matches next season while playing 40 plus games.
DOMINIK FRIESER 14 (2)
The Austrian forward netted twice in August, in the win over Coventry and the draw at QPR, but slowly faded out of the starting 11.
Frieser, pictured left, was released from his contract just before Christmas and joined third tier Italian side Cesena, making 16 appearances and scoring once.
A popular player for his workrate and attitude – which were missed often once he had departed – his name was sung in the stands long after he had moved on.
Whereas Oakwell had previously been packed with Austrians, his departure meant there were none left – although loaned-out Patrick Schmidt is still contracted to the club for another year.
TOBY SIBBICK 12 (1)
A sad decline after an excellent second half of last season.
The defender scored the first goal of the season at Cardiff then was in and out of the side under Schopp – who dropped him for a breach of discipline – while struggling defensively at times.
Asbaghi did not play him and questioned his attitude.
The defender was sold in January to Scottish club Hearts for whom he has played 15 games.
JACK WALTON 10
The only current first team player to be relegated twice with the Reds. But, like in 2018, the goalkeeper has come in right at the end of the season and done fairly well.
At 24, he will surely want regular football next season which may depend on whether Collins leaves and, if so, who comes in.
He recently passed 50 Reds games, for eight managers.
WILL HONDERMARCK 10
The 21-year-old French-born Irishman signed in September for the under 23s but was immediately involved in the first team and impressed many fans with his bursts forward, which few other midfielders have done this season. He played just one minute in the league under Asbaghi, despite clamour from fans, then has looked raw at right wing-back in starting the last two games.
AAPO HALME 7
The Finnish centre-back has started just five league games across the last two seasons, with the most recent in September.
He was taken off at half-time in the FA Cup loss at Huddersfield in February which could be his final game for the club who have an option to extend his deal by another year.
Has been often injured for long spells.
BEN WILLIAMS 5
The left-back missed all of last season with a major injury and played early on under Schopp before slipping out of the first team squad. He moved in January to Cheltenham Town, who he is likely to play for against Barnsley next season.
He was sent off on his debut but has played 11 games, scoring his first career goal in a 4-0 win over Doncaster.
AIDEN MARSH 5 (1)
One of the best moments of a horrific season was the 18-year-old from Monk Bretton scoring 16 minutes into his full league debut for his hometown club against Preston last week, having been a supporter since he was four. The striker has since turned 19 and may get more opportunities in League One.
ISAAC CHRISTIE-DAVIES 2
The midfielder finally made his Barnsley debut – and his first appearance in English league football – 593 days after signing.
He came off the bench in the loss at Huddersfield which confirmed relegation then started the loss to Blackpool days later.
The 24-year-old still has a year left on his contract.
CAMERON THOMPSON 2
The winger came off the bench for his professional debut in the EFL Cup at Bolton in August then in the league at Birmingham in January.
The 22-year-old then impressed on loan at National League North club Darlington.
OBBI OULARE 2
Likely to go down in infamy as one of the club’s worst signings.
Recruited by Paul Conway, who did not rely on the usual data-led approach, on a three-year deal as one of the bigger earners but struggled to get fit and was loaned out to Molenbeek, where he will also spend next season. Looked well off the pace in the second of his sub appearances, against Swansea, with laughter in the stands.
DAVID BREMANG 2
The 22-year-old striker, who signed a one-year deal in the summer after leaving Coventry, came off the bench in the 3-0 loss at Nottingham Forest in January and the 4-0 defeat at West Brom on Saturday.
He played three games on loan to Guiseley in-between.
JASON SRAHA 2
The 19-year-old centre-back started the last two games of the season after a loan at National League North side Guiseley.
He could have done better for several goals and chances but will have learned a lot and looks to have the physical attributes to be a professional. He joined the Reds at the start of the season after spells with Chelsea and Arsenal’s academy.
JORDAN HELLIWELL 2
The academy graduate, who has been at the club for a decade and played in the EFL Trophy in 2018, made his league debut off the bench against Preston in the penultimate match then started the last game. A right-back, the 20-year-old has played mainly in central midfield for the under 23s and has played in both positions already for the first team. Out of contract.
GEORGE MILLER 1
He made his first and only Barnsley start at Bolton in the EFL Cup as a right wing-back then was loaned out to League Two Walsall for whom he played as a striker and scored 12 goals.
He is out of contract this summer so is expected to be released next week after making nine appearances for the Reds across three and a half years.
HERBIE KANE 1
The midfielder came off the bench in the EFL Cup at Bolton then was loaned out for the season to Oxford.
The Reds did not bring him back in January despite needing help in central midfield. Kane played 37 games for the League One Us but has suffered a serious groin injury which may scupper the chances of moving him on this summer or giving him a good pre-season ahead of a second chance with Barnsley.
JOE ACKROYD 1
The 19-year-old midfielder from Darfield came off the bench at half-time in extra-time in the FA Cup win over Barrow, making his debut after nine years in the academy.
Later that month, he was loaned out to Czech second tier club MFK Vyskov whose season ends tomorrow, playing 12 games and scoring once.