Date:Sunday October 5 2008
When Clarets fans saw Chris Eagles proudly hold up his Number 33 Burnley shirt after signing from Manchester United, how many thought they would see the former Premier League player for the Premier League Champions struggle to get a starting eleven place?
It maybe hasn`t quite worked out the way it was planned. Our poor start led to ridiculous accusations that Eagles flattered to deceive and even more bizarrely had an unsettling influence on the players around him struggling with the new formation. Elliott in particular admittedly looked lost for a time.
I think there lies the problem. Eagles is such a good player that it took some time for his team mates to keep up with him and reach an understanding.
It was just starting to happen for Eagles when he foolishly lost the plot and was red carded for dissent against Plymouth at home. His three match ban coincided with an improvement in form by the Clarets as the 4-1-4-1 formation without Eagles began to pay dividends as we embarked on a nine game stretch without defeat.
Chris Eagles has been on the bench in each of the matches he has been available after returning from suspension. He has come on each time and been influential in all the games, in most cases assisting and/or scoring.
Owen Coyle had quite rightly stuck with the same starting eleven for the last three matches before we faced Reading and with the Clarets undefeated in nine games and winning their last three matches, it was no surprise when Coyle choose the same sixteen again with Eagles once more named on the bench.
The run however is over after losing to Reading with some of the players looking jaded and I don`t think we can now afford not to name the former Manchester United player in our starting eleven.
Yesterday against Reading, he came on from the bench and he immediately livened things up. You could see the grit and passion ooze out of him whilst looking determined to earn himself a starting eleven place in the next game by impressing the gaffer. According to most Burnley fans at the game, he easily earned the Clarets Man of the Match Award despite only playing from the 56th minute!
Eagles must surely start in our next match after the two week International break.
Birmingham at home will be a tough test and we need someone who is fired up and has some Premier League experience to play against the current Championship leaders newly relegated last season from the top flight.
The question is who would we drop? The midfield had a bad day against Reading, notably Chris McCann despite his late consolation goal. Joey Gudjonsson also had an average game. It will be interesting to see if one of those makes way for Eagles in the next game. It would be a tad harsh though as both players will be refreshed after the two week break and their form could return with both midfielders having impressed in September. Joey Gudjonsson's impressive performances throughout September have earned him a nomination in the Coca Cola Championship Player of the Month awards. Chris McCann, on the other hand is maturing by the second and has also improved consistently having been named Man of the Match numerous times this season.
Should they be penalised just for one poor performance against Reading?
Another option could be to drop Thompson,. Our new striker too has been impressive in some of the recent matches although he has yet to score and he has struggled in the last two games against Watford and Reading.
I think the option to drop Thompson for Eagles but keep him on the bench is the better one rather than tinker around with the midfield.
With Jordan now suspended for the Brum game after his second yellow card sending off in the last few seconds of the Reading match maybe it is time to revert back to 4-4-2.
We tried this in the second half against Reading after Eagles came on for Duff with Alexander reverting back to the right back position and we didn`t fare too badly
My team selection for the Birmingham game would be as follows:
Jensen, Alexander, Carlisle, Caldwell, Kalvenes (if fit), Elliott, Gudjonsson, McCann, Eagles, Paterson, Blake
Subs: Penny, Duff, Thompson, Rodriguez, Mahon
Whatever happens, there is one plea I must make to Owen Coyle-Please let the Eagles Swoop for the full 90 minutes!
Vital Burnley wish to thank Burnley FC for the use of the photograph above
Date:Sunday October 5 2008
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