A plea for patience
The best story of the week was surely that ex player Jean Louis Valois, now (it said) the owner of lucrative fine French vineyards (really?) but once a cheap claret, was preparing a 250million consortium bid to take over at Turf Moor. Even after the demoralising defeat at Crystal Palace I managed to raise a smile at that one. Jean Louis was a sort of poor man’s Kevin Keegan brought in by Stevie C to bring some pep into the team. There were indeed flashes of brilliance from Monsieur Valois every now and then. They were the days (of the Blessed Stan and then Stevie C) when we truly knew we were hard up and that we should not expect anything much. We lived with it then and accepted it. There was no cash; it was as simple as that and it was Barry Kilby who propped the place up. Life was less complicated as a result, for us that is. We knew our place and not to expect too much. Excitement came from mere survival and an occasional win. I remember a 2 – 1 win away at Bradford where we sang and danced at the end just as much as down at Wembley. We were grateful for scraps, for Arthur Gnohere, Dean West, Big Gareth, for Camara to land a cross in the penalty box and not Towneley Park, and for Jean Louis to occasionally do something out of the ordinary once a fortnight. Tottenham came up for a Cup game and lost. Glen Little that night was unplayable. Ah, happy days.
We have been spoiled now haven’t we? Through extraordinary good fortune we tasted the good life and the money flowed in. Alas it flowed out again just as fast. But it still flows in courtesy of the paramoney but it seems that it is still flowing out again just as fast. Yet still we simple folk don’t understand how we can purportedly be so hard up again so quickly. The programme to cut costs is being done with bewildering alacrity. “Was this really in the script?” someone asked. What we need is an idiot’s guide to what came in and when, and what went out and when, who lent what and when, who was paid back and when, what commercial loans were taken out as a result of cash flow factors, and when. And all this needs to go right back to the Cotterill days. If this came from the club it would be a PR masterstroke.
But, after the Palace game the news was released that we would be signing Danny Ings from Bournemouth. Apparently he comes under the heading of “promising” and Burnley will fork out an eventual million for the lad (allegedly). I thought we already had two promising lads in Wes Fletcher and Alex MacDonald. David Edgar was given the midfield nod at Selhurst, and looked like a fish out of water, whilst yet again Alex Rae-Harvey was either injured or overlooked. He was later loaned out to Accrington.
“We’ve signed Danny Ings,” I said to Mrs T. I waited for a whoop di doo but there wasn’t one.
“Who?” she replied instead, looking thoroughly puzzled. Her answers and reactions are usually a pretty good barometer
Just prior to the Palace game Director Brendan Flood asked for patience and insisted that the only players sold were those who didn’t want to be here. He emphasised that Jay Rodriguez was not for sale. But Paul Jewell a few days later stated that he too (as well as Southampton) had enquired after Rodriguez in the summer and had been told that Burnley would not consider anything under £6million.
“We bid a lot of money for Rodriguez in the summer but were told that he wasn’t for sale unless it was for £6million.”
Does one infer from that, that despite the “populist rhetoric”, there is indeed a price at which he might be sold and that had Ipswich offered that money, Jay Rod would now be an ooh ar tractor boy?
It was inconceivable during the pre season that a season of struggle was an option. But when the “couple of tweaks” that Eddie Howe mentioned, prior to thje sales, became “a period of transition”, it was clear that the whole scenario had changed from real optimism to something very, very different. Howe referred in interviews to the unsettling affect the sales had on the squad seeing good players leave. “The players we have here have seen the other players leave. It is incredibly difficult at the start of a new season mentally for players to accept that.”
On the front bench of the new official club picture, I counted an astonishing eleven members of Eddie Howe’s staff, the complete front row, plus the club were advertising for an ‘away scout’. Then there’s Terry Pashley and Martin Dobson as well. That was one row out of three consisting of staff. I thought we were hard up. You think the daftest things. Perhaps next year it will be two rows of staff and just one row of players. The size of this bench kind of undermined the suggestion that the dismissal of Stuart Gray and Ashley Hoskin was down to making savings. I doubt anyone mourned the exit of Gray, but it could be said the dismissal of Hoskins was just a little shabby.
But in came Ings with the announcement and confirmation that he had signed a 4-year deal. We waited for news of others. Without any others the consensus was that this was going to be a long hard season. The name Zavon Hines kept cropping up. The Ryan Shotton link wouldn’t go away. But the fantastic announcement was that the Barnet Carling game was a designated Curry night.
And then Zavon Hines signed. The rumours were true. It seemed to have been going on all week. “We’ve signed Zavon Hines from West Ham,” I told Mrs T enthusiastically.
She looked puzzled again. “Who,” she replied making greengage jam at the time. We have a cellar full of millions of jars of jam and our kitchen floor is permanently sticky. Some of my shoes have been stuck to the floor for months.
Living in Leeds you can’t avoid all things Leeds United. Tthe anti-Bates demos outside the ground inspired another batch of pure-Ken programme notes. He opened by calling the fans who demonstrated morons and then:
“Some fans may not like me, or agree with me, but you’re stuck with me. I saved your club in 2005 and 2007 when nobody else would. The re-building of Leeds United is a bit like sex. In an age of instant gratification Leeds United is having a long drawn out affair, with plenty of foreplay and slow arousal.”
Bates will be an astonishing 80 years old this coming December and is now the official owner of Leeds United having bought the club in May from the shadowy unknown owners based in the W Indies somewhere. Bates would not reveal who he had bought the club from nor the amount paid. You can’t help wondering if he owned them all along.
There was a degree of trepidation regarding the visit of Cardiff City. At one time, on the brink of oblivion, utterly broke and millions in debt, with a financial policy directly the opposite of Burnley’s, nevertheless there they were riding reasonably high after two wins and 6 points. With one club bouyant (ish) and the other at the wrong end, if ever a game was an away banker then this was it.
The way they have survived countless winding up orders and financial crises has been either a fairy tale or a scandal, depending on your point of view – and somehow they even managed to build a spanking new stadium. When last I heard they had a billionaire Malaysian backer, Tan Sri Vincent Tan Chee Yioun, and a debt of £40million+. My local restaurant does a delicious number 29 Tan Chee Yiuon.
In July the chairman memorably said: “If this is a business you may wonder at times whether we are in the loony house.” Past residents of the Cardiff loony house have been Peter Ridsdale and Sam Hamman If I understand things right; although things get a bit blurred and Hamman is reputedly still the frontman for the shadowy Langston Corporation to whom £24million is allegedly still owed. I thought the Langston Corporation were the bad guys in the Bourne Conspiracy.
Could it be that the Leeds slow arousal model has been adopted at Burnley and that we will have to wait a while for Eddie to bring us all to a climax? There was certainly nothing climactic about the Cardiff game, ending as it did in a 1 – 1 draw, though like all good foreplay, as a 90 minutes it was enjoyable enough. Mind you if you can keep foreplay up for 90 minutes you must be taking something and live on sun-dried tomatoes. Over ‘ere in Yorkshire we don’t muck abart like that.
Fortunately the experiment of Edgar in midfield was not repeated. Marney was back. Amougou was not even on the bench. We learned that Ings had been injured in training and would be out for some months. It was a lovely summer’s day when the game started. By the time it ended the lights were on, and it was like a dull drizzly October.
Burnley took an early lead with a goal that was slick and simple; a beautiful cross from Tripper on the right at pace, and there was Austin to head home. Cardiff offered little threat until bit by bit they began to come into the game more after the half hour. As the half wore on you feared a Cardiff goal as Burnley succumbed to their bullying style and rugged physical presence. One challenge that took Austin out warranted a red. “Smashed,” said Eddie Howe. The Cardiff goal duly arrived courtesy of Burnley defenders giving the wily Earnshaw all the room and time in the world to control a cross on his chest about 7 yards out, make a cuppa tea, read the newspaper and then stroke it past Grant. We groaned at its predictability. There had been much to admire from Burnley in the first 35 minutes but gradually their hold on the game lessened. Maybe there should have been a penalty and other chances flashed by. The refereeing was poor. Cardiff are a big side and Burnley are small. There was promise but there was something missing up front – presence, physical power and substance – an Iwelumo with mobility and pace, an Andy Lochhead, but from where do you get one of those? It won’t be Ings for a while.
The second half was very much a stalemate. McCann had a glorious opportunity to take the points with a header but he headed the ball down and it bounced up over the bar when it seemed easier to score. A fizzing shot from Wallace just after the half started. The defence looked solid; horrible Cardiff never looked like scoring again. The refereeing got worse and worse.
Nobody played badly, though you felt that Rodriguez, McCann and Treacy never got beyond 3rd gear. Wallace was everywhere, the best game I’ve seen him play. Austin grows in stature every game. Easton and Duff were solid, Trippier and Mee impressively skilful. Overall you felt it was a learning experience for a new team. There’s a long way to go to get this team to really fire on all cylinders and cope with brute force. It looked lightweight up front. Cardiff brutish muscle and the gorilla like centre backs eventually strangled the game.
But the chance that fell to McCann. It really should have been 2 – 1. Patience will definitely be needed and itt could be a close run thing by the end of the season. It may be a little while before things click. We might be in for a lot more foreplay and slow arousal before the climax comes.