January 2009 part 3
SO TWO OLD PENSIONERS STOOD SHOUTING BOING BOING, BOING BOING at the tops of their voices like a pair of idiots at the West Brom fans opposite - and these let me add are two respectable old pensioners, one a former headteacher and the other a former deputy headmistress… we don’t come much more respectable than that. Oh and then there was ooh are yer… ooh are yer… anything Rocky can do we can do better. Football does strange things to grown people.
And all this was because of an 89th minute goal that levelled the game and earned a replay back at Turf Moor. You could say, I suppose, the next Cup adventure might just have started. Yet again a defeat would have been a travesty; in fact, even a draw could so easily have been a win.
It was a late decision to go this game, but we felt we had to. We were so furious at the manner of defeat at Preston, so distraught at the events of Wednesday night, so full of compassion and sympathy for players who had given everything; we felt we just had to go to West Brom to show our loyalty and solidarity. How glad we were there.
If we had thought that Burnley might be out on their feet, downhearted and still drained, how wrong we were. It was almost as if they carried on where they left off on Wednesday. OK it was a soft penalty we were awarded to take the lead, but who cares, Alexander smacked it home. And then we thought the fates would once again make sure we went home empty handed. A debatable corner was cleared but straight to a West Brom player who cracked it home from 25 yards. As if that wasn’t iffy enough, Mike Dean awarded a free kick 30 yards out that again was debatable to say the least. If anyone can tell me what it was for please let me know. Jensen had it comfortably covered but the deflection took it away from him into the corner of the net. At this point you simply thought here we go again.
A shuffle round was the key to Burnley taking control of the game. Eagles went off. Gudjonnson came on to stiffen midfield, and Elliot moved from midfield to where he plays best – wide right. He had done well enough in midfield but back on the wing he was almost unplayable and both he and Blake caused untold problems for West Brom. They too had their moments but Jensen was always in the right place. Chances went begging, Carson made a miracle save from a Thompson header, the minutes ticked away. It looked again that what you deserve and what you get would be two different things – until – with just two minutes to go Elliot whipped a cross over and there was Paterson steaming into the far corner of the 6-yard box to put it home. Never has a goal been more deserved. Tired – you must be joking they looked like they could have played another game straightaway. The new goal celebration had us chuckling when Paterson and Thompson faced each other and gave each other a kiss – on the lips. OK it was only a little peck but you worry about where this is heading. Perhaps they’ve seen too much of lovebirds Johnny and Paul on Emmerdale. I blame society and lack of discipline in schools for this outrageous behaviour.
All of them after the goal, and the game, came over to our away fans’ end and showed their utter joy and elation. There’s a closeness between them and us at the moment which is almost tangible. Mind you, I don’t want any of them kissing me.
Coyle’s substitutions were spot on again. It makes his use of Akinbiyi against Tottenham, all the more baffling. At West Brom he wasn’t even on the bench.
Mrs T says Paterson and Thompson can give her a kiss on the lips anytime. Me – if they come anywhere near me – I’m outta here. I dare not think what Andy Lochhead or Stan Ternent would think if they heard of this. Blokes wearing earrings sent Stan ballistic.
TOTTENHAM LOST THEIR FA CUP GAME at Man United and it was interesting how as the couple of days went by, between games, Harry changed his rantings about his team after the Carling game. He said he would be sending a weak, mish mash team to Old Trafford because he was so miffed with them and had so many injuries, and then quickly changed that to sending his “strongest available team.” He was roundly criticised and censured in the Press. Anyway, his strongest available team lost and with that wonderful symmetry that so often appears in football it was their much disliked-at-Tottenham ex player Berbatov who scored the winning goal for Man U. Folk are not too happy with Harry at the minute least of all Sunderland who are annoyed because Kenwynne-Jones could well be unsettled when it leaked that Tottenham are interested in him. Harry who already has 17 right backs at Spurs has bought Chimbonda back. Harry was none too please either because Teddy Sheringham gave them some stick after their Man U defeat and said they looked quite happy to go out of the competition. Everybody is having a go at Harry at the minute. I ask one question. Would I buy a used car from this man? I recommend you all read the chapter about him in Tom Bowyer’s Broken Dreams.
THE DRAW FOR ROUND FIVE at the ridiculous time of 20 past 6 on a Sunday night, (goodbye tradition, I remember Monday lunchtimes gathered round an old radio), further debased the glitter of the FA Cup. The two ball pluckers Mabbutt and Pallister had the charisma and personality of a pair of corpses. But the draw set up a mouth-watering, intriguing tie for us if we beat West Brom first and Arsenal dispose of Cardiff in their replay back at The Emirates. “We’re going,” I said to Mrs T “and that’s another ground we can tick off our list.” I’ve always wanted to pay £12 for a coke and a pie. Can we assume that this will be another day when 6,000 Burnley fans make another trek south? We were the very last name out of the hat (why do we call it a hat it’s a transparent plastic bowl now). This was the first Sunday I can remember for years when there hasn’t been a Sunday game to watch. They were all on Setanta and I curse them every time there’s a game on their channel I want to watch. But I’ll be damned if I’ll subscribe.
WE CERTAINLY ARE MEDIA DARLINGS THE MOMENT: There wasn’t a paper that wasn’t fulsome in its praise for us after Tottenham’s “grand larceny” (their words) and all this praise increased even more after West Brom when all the pundits (they know so much more than we do ) were sure we’d fold and collapse like a pack of cards. Well we didn’t and Stan Collymore (used to be a good footballer) in his Daily Mirror column said this:
“Well done to Championship Burnley for their Cup heroics this season. They went so close to reaching the Carling Cup Final in their semi-final with Spurs. And now Owen Coyle’s men have pulled off a fantastic late draw at Premier League West Brom. They’ve had matches this season they’ll remember for a long time. But I hope it doesn’t hit their promotion hopes. I think the Clarets’ guile and imagination would grace the Premier League.”
NO JANUARY REINFORCEMENTS: seems to be the message coming out of the club. Last night was Watford away and Xanadu (where Kubla Khan a stately pleasure dome did decree) it ain’t. By general agreement it is a place even more ghastly than Rotherham. Centuries ago when people thought that the world was flat Watford was the place you went to before you fell over the edge. And so it was, last night, when on a pitch that made an allotment look like first-day Wimbledon, a morass of mud and sand with an occasional tuft of grass, Burnley went a goal down inside the first minute when OC said a double decker could have driven through the defence, contrived to lose 3 – 0 and Coyle continued to blast the defence long after the game.
This was a game that sounded so bad I turned off the commentary after the second goal went in and watched the Emmerdale recording from earlier in the evening. Dejection can’t get much worse than that. Since Jarvis (our own Claret Richard Moore) the bin man left, I’ve seen better acting by the Chuckle brothers.
Not since the days of the blessed Stan has a Burnley manager publicly blasted his players as savagely as OC after the debacle. “I could probably go in at 42 and defend better than that, it’s not on!” he raged. “I’m not going to stand by and watch that defending week in week out. We defended abysmally.” There were even threats that he would do something as drastic as bringing the kids in, which would be drastic indeed as few of them are more than 5’ 6”.
With Harry Redknapp publicly threatening that his missus could take chances that his strikers missed, and OC threatening that at 42 he could defend better than our back four, there must be some decidedly inept footballers out there.
Dozens of supporters didn’t even make it to the ground having been caught up in M1 three-hour delays due to some sort of fuel spillage. The Supporters’ Club coach stood still for three hours and headed back home at 9.30 as soon as it could turn round. At least they were spared the joy of seeing a poor Watford side humiliate us.
Clearly, we are paying the price for having highly paid players who hardly feature, inasmuch as there is no money to bring in fresh faces. Akinbiyi, Mahon, Kiraly and Van der What’sisname (nobody knows his name because he is always ill or injured) are soaking up money like sponges.
Much is being made at the moment in the media about the amount of money Brendan Flood has loaned the club.
Brendan: most of it is going on players whose silly wages and lack of involvement, to be truthful, mean we can’t wait to get rid of them in the summer.
FINAL GAME OF A BAD MONTH COMING UP: I won’t call January disastrous or tragic. A disaster is an earthquake where people lose their lives. A tragedy is when a supporter has a fatal heart attack during the Tottenham game. We use these words in football too often and inappropriately. But the Charlton game became one of those games that we describe as a ‘must-win’ game. A sixth consecutive League defeat would be unthinkable and another defeat at home might lead to much unrest on the terraces.
However, the bright news before the game was the loan signing of Rhys Williams, a defender from Middlesbrough and at last the movement of Gabor Kiraly who went to Leverkusen. In the case of both of them, one can only say thank God for that.
I felt a bit sorry for Andy Lochhead who came out in the LET and more or less said it’s time the directors put their hands in their pockets and found some money for the team. I would imagine Andy knows how much they do put in and have put in already, and that this club is now losing £4million a year. Plus which the man who has put £2.65million in, in a very short space of time, is now probably pulling his horns in and being very cautious as the current financial problems undoubtedly affect his company, Modus.
Andy’s column is written by a reporter who rings him up and asks him a few questions. Unless Andy sees a proof copy and can study it carefully he probably has no real control over what any reporter writes or how his answers are presented. So whilst it sounds like Andy is giving the directors a rocket, I doubt that was his intention.
WBA’s PAUL ROBINSON’S RED CARD WAS RESCINDED: This was awarded for his assault (sorry tackle) on Park the Man U player last week during the 5 – 0 demolition of West Brom. It was a quite horrendous challenge as he came flying in horizontally from about ten yards away and smashed into Park. The words reckless and wild are an understatement. On appeal it was overturned. I thought back to the red card given against Duff during the Swansea game for the slightest of holds he had on the Swansea player’s shirt as they both steamed towards the box and Duff then timed his tackle to perfection. Robinson’s was as dangerous a tackle on a player I have seen for years and he is then let off. The rules of football at the moment are just plain crazy. Of course he is clear to play in the Cup replay on Tuesday.
WELL IT WAS BY THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH but thoroughly deserved. The win against Charlton was critical. Six defeats would have quite probably ended any hopes of top six. Yes we won but there are two ways to look at things. Yes the substitutions were spot on and turned the game. Or team selection was again wrong in the first place and it’s back to the question can you really have Elliot, Eagles, Paterson and Blake effectively in the same line-up. Not until Elliot went wide right, Thompson came on and Eagles went off did we look like we might win. When big McDonald came on later we moved up yet another level.
Charlton’s time wasting was abysmal and ten minutes extra time would not have been unreasonable instead of the six give. Nevertheless six extra minutes was time enough to score the second and winning goal.
OC’s substitutions were much lauded by all and sundry and for the umpteenth time this season resulted in goals. “Has this man got the Midas touch?” asked one person.
The other side of the coin is, “Why doesn’t he start with these players and give us fewer headaches?”
And, it is truly ironic that the one substitution of the season that didn’t work was the big one of the Tottenham game. Most of us will forever wonder why Akinbiyi was brought on.
The enigma that is Eagles: Is he an expensive luxury? Should he simply be a bench player? Should he simply be seen as Elliot’s understudy? Is he the icing on the cake or just the froth on the coffee?
The minute Elliot goes wide right in any game we play the team is transformed and we look likely to create something. Assuming there are no fitness problems the West Brom and Charlton games showed that there is a hard core of players who MUST play – Elliot wide right, Thompson, big McDonald, Paterson, and Blake with a clear left-side role.
The Charlton manager’s comments after the game were simply laughable. You wonder what planet people like Phil Parkinson come from. He said the 6 extra minutes were a joke and the referee had been sucked into it by the crowd. Charlton got what they deserved. Their time-wasting was the worst I have seen.
So the month ends and we are still clinging on to the possibility of a top six place and have a good chance of an FA Cup game at Arsenal; plus the story that Ade may possibly be on the verge of a move to Qatar until the end of the season thus freeing up another £7,500+ a week.
WHO DO WE WANT TO PLAY NEXT SEASON?
I would imagine it’s likely that West Brom will be one of the Prem teams to come down. After that, who is there; just two points cover the bottom seven clubs? Portsmouth are in freefall, Adams looks doomed, and that’s a nice place for me and Mrs T to visit from her sister’s place in Sussex. It doesn’t bother me if Blackburn stay up or come down. Middlesbrough are a good candidate for the drop and that’s another decent away game for me and Mrs T. Stoke I would like to stay up – it’s a horrible away day experience even on a sunny day. But my third selection is Newcastle. What a shambles that place is. The joke up there is that if you put Newcastle Comedy Store into your Satnav it takes you to St Jame’s. An away day up there is an enticing prospect.
West Brom, Portsmouth and Newcastle is my not-too-sure prediction but if West Brom do just manage to survive wouldn’t it be nice of Tottenham came down?
THE TRANSFER WINDOW CLOSED with that Dutch bloke we signed going off to Norway on loan till the end of the season. There were last minute rumours that bids were received for McCann and Eagles but then such stories were always likely. The fun of Monday and the minutes slowly ticking by was watching the Sky Sports News blokes doing their very best to make it sound exciting that Robbie Keane was leaving Liverpool to go back to Tottenham. Is anyone really bothered? The other one was N’Zogbia leaving Newcastle to go to Wigan. When Joe Kinnear called home N’Somnia, he took the huff, had a hissy and said he wouldn’t play for Kinnear again. Sometimes don’t you just love football?
Dave Thomas January 31st 2009