NCM L2 Predictions - 10th
Feature by Jacob Daniel
Updated Thursday, 30th July 2009
BarnetToday we edge closer towards the play-offs with our League Two predictions, and Ian Hendon's Barnet...
Kind of par for the course for the Bees since their return to the Football League, the odd flirt with the relegation zone but finishing in a relatively safe lower mid-table position. Manager Paul Fairclough couldn't survive the chop however as he was sacked mid-way through the campaign, paving the way for his assistant and former Notts captain Ian Hendon to take the reigns at Underhill. After Fairclough had struggled to get Barnet performing in the first half of the season leading to genuine relegation worry, Hendon steadied the ship and lead Barnet away from the bottom thanks to some impressive football and good loan signings.
The two shining lights of Barnet's season were winger Albert Adomah and striker John O'Flynn, both of whom probably won't be at Underhill for much longer. Adomah once again terrorised League Two with his pace and direct running, which has lead to recent interest from Norwich City. John O'Flynn, a free transfer from Cork City, impressed hugely in his first season at Underhill by hitting 17 goals, despite missing periods of the season with niggling injuries. The key to Barnet's chances of improving on their performance last campaign could lie with ensuring Adomah and O'Flynn remain at Underhill.
Former Notts County captain Ian Hendon has impressed hugely since taking over from Paul Fairclough at the end of 2008. Fairclough had left the Bees in a mess with 19 points from the first half of the season, but Hendon steadied the ship and a stream of intelligent loan signings helped Barnet move away from danger and to mathmetical safety with 4 games to spare. It was his second spell as caretaker manager at the club following a short joint spell with Danny Maddix on 2004, but this time Hendon was to be handed the job on a permanent basis at the end of the season.
Many have predicted the Bees to struggle, but they are underestimating a cracking captain who is likely to be just as impressive as a manager. He's already shown excellent motviating skills in leading a squad low on confidence and down in the dumps on an impressive run and his knowledge of the players available on Barnet's limited budget appears to be sound judging by some of his acquisitions last season and through the summer.
Low on numbers, but we think pretty high on genuine quality, with a few more additions and squad players Barnet could challenge for the play-offs, let alone the top half. In goal one of Hendon's loanees, Jake Cole, has signed permanently and provides a far safer pair of hands than either Ran Kadoch or Lee Harrison. Their achilles heel however is the defence infront of him, with Kenny Gillett at left back having struggled recently despite impressing when first bursting onto the scene. In the centre Ismail Yakubu and Joe Devera will both be looking to find their best form alongside player/assistant manager Gary Breen, who's experience and composure is key to the Bees at the back. Massive Aussie Daniel Leach has also been brought in on a free transfer, he is a former captain of Oregon State University.
In midfield Albert Adomah could be set for a move to Norwich City or somewhere else higher up the food chain, but should Hendon be able to convince the flying winger to spend another season at Underhill then he has one of the division's most prodigious talents. In the centre he has excellent options in the form of the experienced Micah Hyde who's cool head means they are unlikely to miss Neal Bishop too much, while he is complimented by the skillful and creative Nicky Deverdics and the tough tackling Mark Hughes, giving Hendon excellent options. On the left Hendon has managed to secure Yannick Bolasie on a long term loan following his impressive spell last season, whilst Albert Jarrett has also joined to provide Hendon with options. Upfront O'Flynn will be hoping to stay fit and improve on last season's goal tally, whilst he should be partnered by the old head of Paul Furlong, who is expected to sign. Despite being 40, Furling impressed hugely on loan last season. Youngsters Jake Hyde and Elliott Charles provide back up, although a further option or two upfront is needed if Barnet are to progress.
It may be a year early for Hendon and his squad, but with the experienced trio of Breen, Hyde and Furlong complimented by a refreshing mix of youth and pace, Barnet could genuinely surprise everyone and go all the way this season. A somewhat suspect defence and a lack of cover upfront will just see them in mid-table, we think, but if injuries are kind and Hendon can wave his magic wand in the loan market once again, the play-offs and beyond may not be out of their reach.