Back in One Season?
Six clubs departed our league in May, and after Lloyd’s assessment of Wolves’ top flight chances last month, it’s now time for Burnley to be thrust under the spotlight. I was at Turf Moor on a cold October night last year and the sight of Owen Coyle patrolling the touchline in skimpy shorts and white sweatshirt made me shiver – here was a hard as nails, driven gaffer. Persuading Coyle to stay loyal in the teeth of a rumoured approach from his boyhood heroes Celtic is the crucial move of this Summer for Burnley – and will overshadow any transfer activity they may indulge in, no matter how precipitous.
Thus far, it’s been a low key Summer for the Lancastrians, with David Edgar the latest to hop on the Red Rose waggon, in something of a downsizing move from the Toon. Burnley certainly needed steel at the back with the reformed Clarke Carlisle and Steven Caldwell unlikely to prove good enough for Premier Fields. Those two behemoths are guarded behind and in front by the considerable mass of the underrated Brian Jensen and the midfield screen of Graham Alexander, author of a quite outrageously good season. Indeed, Burnley’s middle ranks ticked along more and more impressively as the season wore on. The Alice banded Chis Eagles posed pretty much all the threat before Christmas, but the likes of Chris McCann, Joey Gudjonsson and Wade Elliott all grew in confidence over the campaign, with the latter capping it all with that strike at Wembley. In addition, Martin Paterson proved to be a minor revelation up front, with twelve goals and grafting performances aplenty.
So can they survive? Probably not I’m afraid; but that’s not to denigrate a team that will still enjoy some fine moments – as foreshadowed by last season’s cup thrillers. Whereas Wolves have moved quickly to address clear deficiencies with the acquisitions of Nenad Milijas and Ronald Zubar, Clarets have taken the more homespun route via Edgar, Tyrone Mears and Scottish striker Steven Fletcher. My impression of Burnley last term was of a somewhat wooden side, ever willing, but lacking flair, the fitful Eagles apart. Extending the transfer policy south of Manchester might not go amiss.