Welcome back to Brian Laws as Burnley’s new manager. I say welcome back because Brian is a former player.
Fair to say Owen Coyle’s departure to Bolton was like a kick in the guts of a lot of Burnley fans but chairman Barry Kilby and fellow board member Brendan Flood have moved quickly to fill the gap. I made a video reflecting on Coyle’s leaving, but didn’t get a chance to put it up because I was preparing for the Iraq inquiry. So this blog continues after these messages:
I welcome the Laws appointment and am glad it has been made in time for the little matter of the visit to Manchester United on Saturday as we seek to do the double on them! I am also thrilled Graham Alexander is stepping up to be coach as well as player. The departure of first team coach Steve Davis, a real Burnley legend, was for many an even bigger gut-kicker than Owen Coyle going. ‘Grezza’, the oldest outfield player in the Premier League, and one of the fittest, is rapidly developing legend status too and this will add to it.
There was an embarrassing moment yesterday when a text pinged in on my phone as I sat down to give evidence in one of my sessions at the Iraq inquiry. It was a voicemail message from one of the managers whose brains I had been picking for Barry and Brendan on the various names that had moved in and out of the frame in recent days.
It is no secret Shaun O’Driscoll was really fancied and clearly the top names in football management see him as someone who will be a Premier League manager one day. But I know Barry and Brendan felt Brian Laws, in addition to knowing the club and the area as well as he does, edges it on experience. They are also hard-headed users of stats and I know they did a pretty rigorous assessment of Brian Laws’ results set alongside the relative budgets his clubs had. Yes he has known relegation but he has known it from the perspective of being starved of funds.
Lots of people have been asking why they didn’t go for an Alan Curbishley or a Steve Coppell. They were not options, for different reasons. It is also worth remembering that the management team that decided on Laws is the one which did the same kind of tough assessment on all available talent before taking the risk of going for Owen Coyle. So I am happy to trust their judgement and urge all Burnley fans to welcome Brian Laws and give him real support.
We will troop to Old Trafford knowing it will be a tough contest, followed by Liverpool in the Cup, Coyle’s Bolton away, then Chelsea. That is one hell of a tough start. But it reminds me of the tough start we had to the season. This is our season starting all over again.