Date:Saturday May 23 2009
Former Clarets manager and player, Adrian Heath thinks Burnley could be the victors against another of his former clubs, Sheffield United in the Championship Play-Offs Final at Wembley on Spring Bank Holiday Monday.
Speaking to the Yorkshire Post he said:
'It will be a far greater achievement for Burnley to win promotion, but the Premier League would be graced by either club as both have long histories and great support. It's going to be a really tight game on Monday but I have a sneaky feeling Burnley will go through on penalties,I worked with (Blades manager) Kevin Blackwell at Leeds and he is a good coach who knows what he is doing. His side must start as favourites but I think Burnley might gatecrash the party.'
Adrian Heath's comments are particularly interesting because of his previous connections with both clubs.
Heath is currently manager of Stoke City's feeder club in the US, Austin Aztex but started his managerial career with the Clarets as player-manager in March 1996. His tenure was not a long one and he left at the end of the 1996-97 season after Burnley had finished ninth in the Second Division (now League 1).
In June 1997 Heath was confirmed as the new assistant manager of Everton under Howard Kendall.
He became Sheffield United manager in 1999, but it would be a short spell,Heath leaving Bramall Lane after just five months in charge. These were turbelent times for the club with fans protesting and demanding change. Heath walked out on the club a few hours after the departure of chairman Mike McDonald no doubt still thinking about the angry protests of thousands of Blades fans after his last game in charge against Port Vale.
Neil Warnock would replace him.
Recalling those times Heath said:
'Unfortunately, it was a case of right club, wrong time.I hold up my hands and say I was probably not experienced enough to cope with what was going on.It would have been lovely to be the manager at a time when the club was stable and more money was available - but I was stuck in a situation where everything happening off the field was affecting things on the field.'
A series of assistant and caretaker manager roles then followed with various clubs. He helped his former Everton team-mate Peter Reid at Sunderland, Leeds United and Coventry City. Reid left Coventry in January 2005 allowing Heath to have his first spell as caretaker manager until Micky Adams arrived. He stayed on to assist Adama and again acted as caretaker manager when Adams left in January 2007. he left Covenrty though after Iain Dowie was appointed manager.
In February 2008 he became manager of USL side, Austin Aztex. The US club have a close relationship with Stoke City, where Heath started his playing career. Heath had two spells with Stoke City in a much travelled playing career that would earn him the journeyman tag. Heath's first spell with Stoke was between 1979-1982 and he then joined Everton in January 1982 for a club record fee at the time of £700,000.
He left Merseyside for Spanish side, RCD Espanyol in 1988 and then had spells with Aston Villa and Manchester City before rejoining Stoke for a brief spell in 1992.
Heath signed for the Clarets from Stoke on a free transfer in 1992 and the midfielder played 115 times for the club in his first spell scoring 29 goals. He of course also played for the Clarets the last time we were in a play-offs final against Stockport in 1994 at the old Wembley.
He left the club in 1995 to play for our Wembley opponents this Monday, Sheffield United. He played just 4 times for the Blades before returning to Turf Moor as player manager in March 1996.
Heath, now 48 does still seem to have a soft spot for the Clarets and last month before we knew whether we would be in the play-offs he said:
"This is a huge period for them. If Burnley go up into the Premier League it would be the re-birth of the club. If Burnley don`t make it this year, you would expect them to get stronger next year. But you can never pass it up. I know Owen Coyle and the chairman (Barry Kilby) are very ambitious. The chairman`s done a great job and has backed the manager, buying good players - players who will go on again - and there`s a good fanbase building again. If they got into the play-offs I think this could be a turning point for the club."
So one more 'Burnley Backer' to add to the list and a former Blade at that!
Date:Saturday May 23 2009
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