“Listen,” he said, as if he was going to tell me something confidential and conspiratorial, “I’ve seen two recessions and there’s always money around.” Cameron, Clegg and Osborne seem to think not.
Fortunately for Liverpool there must be some, as American John W Henry rode in to take over from the bad guys, equally American, Gillette and Hicks. The latter tried every trick they knew to stop the deal. Having lost, next they planned a billion pound compensation claim and threatened to tie Liverpool in knots for years with litigation. But from whom exactly would they cream off this mythical £billion? Just in time, before we all fell asleep, the Liverpool saga was then replaced by Rooneygate.
What is the tenuous link between Pato’s fabulous goal at Reading and the rescue of the Chilean miners?
Well: I sat spellbound by the marvel of the rescue of these guys. My TV was on for just about 24 hours non stop. I couldn’t stop watching it. I sat transfixed. It was one of those things we’ll probably never ever see again. In that respect it was like other things where I’ve sat glued in front of a TV set. The first I can remember was Churchill’s state funeral years ago. Then there was man landing on the moon for the first time, Bob Geldofs first Live Aid concert, Princess Diana’s funeral, the Twin Towers atrocity. I can remember for each one where I was and the vividness of the images and the thoughts that stayed behind long after the pictures ended. In the great world-events scheme of things the night at Reading was trite, but in terms of being glued to a TV set it was right up there with them. I was in Hornsea and stunned by Pato’s goal. When Thompson’s went in I dived off the settee head first onto the carpet howling and shouting and banging my fists on the floor. Like all the other ‘TV’ memories it will be something I will never forget; just like watching the rescue, one by one, of the blokes stuck below ground for 69 days. Some things will stay in your mind for a long, long time and the images of Chilean miners and Pato’s goal, for me, will stick around a long time.
Anticipation grew as the Sheffield United game got nearer. Two weeks without a decent game to watch (I don’t count the shambles that is England) is a long time. For various reasons this was the first away game for me and Mrs T, Sheffield just an hour down the motorway and then surprisingly no trouble finding somewhere to park just 5 minutes walk away. In the past we have been unlucky Mrs T and me, and never seen them win there. The one time they did, in the promotion season, we missed it.
The last meeting had been at glorious Wembley and in that season in the three games played Burnley had won each one of them. It was maybe too much to expect yet another win. But supporters turned out in numbers with the initial allocation of 1800 tickets completely sold out. So far Burnley had scored nine headed goals and Brian Laws was expecting a torrent of abuse from the United supporters on account of his Wednesday association, but if there was any I must have missed it. Nosworthy in the Yorkshire Post was saying that Sheffield United needed to get back to being “horrible” again having lost three home games already and the lowest scorers in the division. But the atmosphere was tame at the Sheffield end. What was missing was the feeling of going into a bearpit that we used to get there. For sure it used to be a ‘horrible’ stadium to visit, intimidating and a bit like a gladiatorial arena. This time it was almost silent until they scored. The home atmosphere was poor for long spells.
Anyway the side that had scored just 5 goals all season scored three against Burnley, and there are two ways to look at the game. The neutral could say: “This was a marvellous, toe to toe, end to end, pulsating game that had everything – great individual performances, fast, flowing football from Burnley, some tasty tackles, finger-tip saves from Jensen and a 6 goal second half that kept each and every spectator glued to the spot wondering what might happen next, until the dramatic ending levelled the scores for the second time, leaving Burnley to come away with a well deserved point after a stirring performance.”
On the other hand I could say this was a thoroughly frustrating game where Burnley threw away the lead twice, couldn’t defend for toffee, Fox was lucky not to be red-carded, Eagles was taken off presumably for injury reasons and what should have been a comfortable first away win eventually became a backs to the wall desperate panic in the last 5 minutes. Brian Laws said afterwards what was lacking at the crucial stage was organisation and leadership. In that case then maybe the old fox Alexander might have brought on to bring exactly that. Left back Fox, having an excellent game, going off injured was also crucial. His replacement Edgar, a good solid centre-back, is a fish out of water at full-back. Why not have put Alexander there? Frustrating too were the low crosses put in during the first half with nobody on the end of them, and Bikey’s glaring headed miss from a Fox corner.
Mears, creator of two Burnley goals, slipped to give away the first Sheffield goal otherwise he might well have been Burnley’s MOTM. Rodriguez, Eagles, Cort, Cork (his fizzing 20yard shot might have made it 4 – 2), Fox until injured and Elliot were excellent. Jensen made two stunning saves and even if he could have saved any of the goals he was badly let down by defenders in front of him, second one maybe a deflection. The way the third Sheffield goal was defended was utterly galling; so near a win – close but no cigar.
All in all we came away hugely disappointed with the stats beginning to suggest a trend that, without being an alarmist (there’s a long way to go), will not bring promotion. At the 11 game stage, more or less a quarter the way through the season, we were not in the top six, had won 4 League games, had not won away, and the defence was as soft as Laughing Cow spread cheese (one of my favourites). And, it was just 7 points from the last 18. Any chance of a top six place means shifting up a gear or shots that hit the post start going in. Automatic means a run of at least four wins to do some serious catching up. After this game Burnley were unbeaten in six, only two defeats all season so far; but unfortunately some great performances had not brought the wins they merited.
Manager Laws was far from pleased and made a telling comment bearing in mind that to his credit the style of football has been excellent: “I don’t want to win plaudits for attractive football; I want to win football matches.”
Meanwhile: Big Kev McDonald, loaned to Scunthorpe, was alas injured training at Scunthorpe so did not feature in their game. The manager explained, “He said the training was quicker than anything he’s done at Burnley.” Boss Ian Barraclough obviously hadn’t seen how quick Kev ran to the pub at HT during the Man City game earlier in the year.
Football fans are the same everywhere. The next couple of games are always crucial. The glass is always half empty. It’s a must win game… we should be doing better than this… and so on and so on. So yep the next two Burnley games were crucial. They were must win games. Home to Barnsley and Reading; must win games because if they weren’t the Clarets might slip even further behind Cardiff and QPR. Fox was crocked, Carlisle still suspended and Bikey you wondered which one would turn up. And Andy Gray was back, he who thought the grass was greener at Charlton and desperate to get away for the fatter pay cheque as good as refused to play when he said he wasn’t in the right frame of mind. Barnsley arrived for the Tuesday night game having failed to win away from home. The glass half empty bit took over – you just knew what would happen.
But it didn’t.
And what we got after a very even first half was a display of pass and move football that was not just pleasing on the eye; it was devastatingly pleasing on the eye. This was pass and move at pace, Harlem Globetrotters style, with tricks and flicks, and Fancy Dan stuff, with showboating and so much to smile at that my face ached by full-time (very rare). If there is such a thing as sexy football, then this was it.
By half-time, not firing on all cylinders, there could already have been two or three goals as crosses were fizzed in at regular intervals but with no one on the end of them, or players racing in and just missing, the score remained 0 – 0. Barnsley were no slouches and broke quickly and passed the ball around impressively. The result was no foregone conclusion.
But if the first half was patchy with Barnsley more than holding their own, then the second half was outstanding and the beauty was; the goals came. This was a second-half of superb, scintillating, swashbuckling football. Eagles was electrifying, a stunning 20 yarder and a screamer of a penalty his reward. Mears ran and raided and ripped down the wing into the box time and again. Easton was at left back and overall did himself proud. Elliot was everywhere, neat, tidy, nimble and creative. Rodriguez ran at defenders and could easily have scored two. Iwelumo, strong as an ox, scored his usual goal with calm aplomb. Cort was outstanding and Bikey beside him was back to Mr Reliable. When needed Jensen made a couple of top saves. But in midfield the two stars were Marney who ran, tracked, tackled, burst into the box, covered every blade if glass. And Cork: boy what a second-half he had. I can’t think of an occasion in that 45 minutes he lost the ball, wasn’t able to wriggle out of trouble, didn’t make the right pass, and had a couple of cracking shots.
It was the complete team performance once they came out again, but at the same time sprinkled with individual flair and skill. So many players able to run at the defence with pace and conviction and on top of all that the passing skills and moves down the right hand side were a joy to watch all night long. With consistency and the ability to convert this stunning football into goals away from home, then this is a side that CAN do well.
After 12 games: Burnley 4th with 20 points, QPR still top and Bristol City bottom (and Rooney says he wants to leave Man United).