Back to the Future
Scunthorpe 0 Burnley 0
Portsmouth 1 Burnley 2
It’s funny how things work out sometimes. The last game for Eddie Howe at Bournemouth was televised. Just days later, his next game and first for Burnley was televised. The Scunthorpe game at Turf Moor was Brian Laws’ last and that was the only win Scunthorpe have had in their previous nine games; the other eight all being defeats. And, on top of all that, this was where Graham Alexander started his career all those many years ago.
Immediately prior to the game Richard Sutcliffe in the Yorkshire Post grabbed the chance to accuse the Clarets of having double standards regarding the appointment of Eddie Howe. Sutcliffe, who lives in Keighley, has family who are Burnley season ticket holders, and his late father was a life long Claret. So, he is not entirely unfamiliar with BFC.
“What has made me laugh, however, in the days since Howe opted to move north is the way not one Burnley fan of my acquaintance, and living in Keighley, there are plenty of them around, has batted an eyelid at the manner of the new manager’s messy departure from his former club… Nor is anyone, it seems, able to recognise the irony of Howe doing exactly what Coyle did this time last year when swapping Burnley for Bolton… namely attempting to better himself… I have found the selective thought processes employed in the wake of Howe’s appointment rather strange and feeling even more sympathy for a manager whose only ‘crime’ was to lead a club back into the top flight after a 33-year absence and then opt to join another team with more potential, as Bolton’s current seventh-place standing in the Premier League vividly illustrates."
Sutcliffe conveniently left a lot of the dissimilarities out of his article. He should talk to his aunty and uncle. Maybe it would make a good exam question at the new BFC University of Football: “Discuss the ways in which the managerial moves of Owen Coyle and Eddie Howe were the same - but different.”
The week before, two footballers came into the public eye, but for very different reasons. Jermaine Pennant allegedly forgot he owned a Porsche, and at the other end of the IQ spectrum Clarke Carlisle was a panellist on Question Time. I use the word ‘allegedly’ because for the life of me I cannot imagine anyone forgetting they own a Porsche – not even Jermaine Pennant – who doesn’t ever really come over as the sharpest tool in the box.
According to reports he left it a railway station in Spain and there it stayed for five months before his old club Real Zaragoza contacted him. The personalised number plate ‘P333NNT’ was a sort of clue. According to one Spanish newspaper, Pennant said he did not recall owning the car. Since joining Stoke City he has denied he forgot he owned it. Well you would wouldn’t you?
No such memory loss for Clarke Carlisle who in his role as ‘everyman’ did well on BBC Question Time. Rob Bagchi in The Guardian was complimentary: “Clarke Carlisle acquitted himself well on Question Time last night… he kept it simple, played the percentages and emerged unscathed after an hour of political knockabout in front of a warm and friendly home crowd… the chairman of the Professional Footballers’ Association was prepared, thoughtful and cautious enough to escape the opprobrium heaped on such predecessors as Davina McCall, Jim Davidson and Tracy Ermin, whose shallowness made watching the programme, even through a mask of the viewer’s fingers, a cringingly awful experience… Carlisle said nothing controversial and before the show had maintained that he had accepted the invitation because he thought he could give a ‘layman’s view’. It was all about teamwork for Carlisle and as a member of a five-strong team he put in a dependable shift… But in not joining QT’s celebrity hall of shame, the boy done good.”
There is no doubt that Clarke Carlisle is a one-off. He has never shied away from discussing his past problems. Presumably a media career awaits him (espcially now there are two vacancies at SKY), although somewhere there’s a quote that he might consider being a teacher; word of warning there Clarke – NO. A previous manager Aidy Boothroyd once said: “If his football ability matched his personality, he would be captain of England.” In a sport where the stereotype footballer is awash with money but can’t string a sentence together clearly; and is so short on brains so that he leaves a £98,000 Porsche in a car park for five months; Carlisle provides the accomplished and articulate, alternative role model. The best summary came from Carlisle himself: “I was so far out of my comfort zone, it was ridiculous,” he said before the Scunthorpe game. Nevertheless, the Daily Telegraph’s Jim White in the aftermath of the Keys/Gray furore included Carlisle as one of his 5 nominees for the vacant studio pundit chair.
In a few articles about him there was mention that he was the first footballer to appear on QT but another was Derek Dougan, also chairman of the PFA a few years ago. He wrote a number of books and a later biography of him is The Doog and it’s mentioned in there. Dougan was a complex, fascinating, sometimes controversial character, at one stage the chairman/chief exec of Wolves. The Doog is a book worth reading.
The first half of the Scunthorpe game was certainly no TV Armchair Theatre. A small, cramped pitch and a dreadful surface, the high bounce, all conspired to produce 45 minutes that was average at best, dire at worst. What little football there was came from Burnley, a few shots from Eagles, a goal-line clearance from Elliot, a kung-fu tackle by Duff after the whistle had gone for a Burnley free kick, and that was about the sum total of anything interesting.
And then, second half, wow, transformation. Carlisle injured was replaced by Bikey. The ineffective Wallace replaced by Iwelumo. Elliot went wide left. And it was pretty much non stop Burnley for the majority of the half. Iwelumo hit the post with a great header, Lillis in goal made a stunning save from Iwelumo again. Eagles and Marney peppered the away-end with shots – but alas few of them on target; Marney particlularly wayward – the new Gudjonnson – blasting the ball high every time. But, by the end, you were left thinking one point was a poor reward for a great second half display on a pig of a pitch. And Eddie Howe, spot on – the change to Iwelumo and the switch of Elliot to wide left transformed things. What a pity there was no 3 points.
After Scunthorpe came Portsmouth and a re-union with Steve Cotterill who has worked miracles there after a horrendous pre season tour of the USA and a very dodgy early run of League games when they looked certainties for relegation. He had just had a go at his footballers having banned them from tweeting: “I have told the lads not to go on Twitter or Facebook and write about anything about Porstmouth Football Club or what goes on here. I have told them if they do I will fine them £1,000 a word.It is a load of old rubbish. If they spent less time on the computer and more time playing football we’d have a better set of players.”
You wonder how he would cope with Clarke Carlisle then these days, with all his TV stuff. “Clarke you are banned from Question Time – it’s a load of old rubbish.”
But it’s another funny thing about football and how we perceive former managers. Stevie C took us on the longest run without a win in club history, and yet I still think of him with respect and some fondness. He wore his heart on his sleeve, and was as baffled as the rest of us by that run of games. But on the other hand, the other man who brought glory and the Premiership place will be forever seen as a pariah by many.
Thirty years after the last Burnley win at Fratton; there was another with goals from Rodriguez and Marney with the latter adding his name to the small list of players who have scored with a superb overhead kick. This one was even more impressive for being well outside the six-yard box and there it was nestling in the corner of the net with a bemused goalkeeper and defender stood watching. Much criticised for his wayward shooting in recent games, how ironic he should score this one with a moment of pure skill and great technnique.
The win was much needed. What a boost it provided. It was a mystery how the game against Scunthorpe yielded just the single point. This one might have been a bit of a backs-to-the-wall display in the second half but the points kept Burnley in touch with the top six on a day when Andy Gray was sacked by SKY for indiscreet remarks, comments and behaviour. His laddish references to women officials at football matches and their knowledge of the offside rule was seemingly the tip of the iceberg. Andy Townsend commented that there was nothing wrong with women officials – as long as they were attractive. Be careful Andy – you could be next.
After the game you could see the steam coming out of an agitated and irate Steve Cotterill’s ears after what he described as Portsmouth’s worst display of the season. It was a classic post-match Cotts “strange mad ramblings” interview full of frustration and irritation. We saw a lot of them. It was clear this was one game he was desperate to win “tonight of all nights” to get one over his previous employers. The PortsmouthMad site described them as clueless and dreadful in a poor game. No such feelings from Eddie Howe and the few hundred Clarets who were there. It must have been a happy ride home for those who went all the way from Burnley.
Suffice it to say that there are some growing criticisms of Owen Coyle over Bolton way after the humiliation the other night and the 4 – 0 whupping from Chelsea. Comments included “no better than Megson was doing… clueless… wants to be everybody’s friend… relegation battle soon… utter joker… ain’t got a clue… dross… time Coyle started earning his wages… the honeymoon is over.” Gosh they’re hard to please over there and there were boos after the game with fans walking off in droves before the end.
QPR still top, Cardiff second. Burnley 9th 5 points from top six and 7 points from second place. Preston still bottom. And boy did I feel aggrieved for Blackpool against Man U. 2 – 0 up and then lost 2 – 3. That was a certain penalty when they were 2 – 0 up. 3 – 0 and you would have thought game over.