There is Only One Jeff Stelling...
Jeff Stelling as most football fans will know fronts 'Gillette Soccer Saturday' for Sky Sports and is now becoming the darling of all women who have time on their hands to watch 'Countdown' on Channel 4 during the week.
Well Jeff, a famous Hartlepool fan of course has been looking at a different countdown recently, the countdown to the start of the new 2009/10 Premier League season. Speaking to skysports.com, he has been providing his predictions for the season including his opinion on how well the Clarets will do.
He describes the club as his surprise package for survival and predicts that the three relegated clubs will be Birmingham, Hull and Portsmouth.
The Clarets of course soon kick-off their first ever campaign in the Premier League as we know it today and their first campaign in the top flight for over 33 years.
Most of the pundits and rival fans have us down for instant relegation and with the smallest squad in the Premier League and with little cash in the coffers, you can perhaps understand why.
How refreshing then, that we have someone like Jeff bucking the trend and giving us all some hope.
Jeff, commenting on the Clarets chances said:
'I think Burney could finish fourth bottom -which would surprise a lot of people. You look at their squad on paper and it's the weakest in the Premier League by some way and they've got an incredibly low income compared to a lot of the clubs, but I really believe Owen Coyle is potentially a fantastic manager. The fact they came up last season, albeit by the play-offs, after playing so many matches with such a tiny squad - and playing such good football in the process - really impressed me. He's not quite a Tony Mowbray figure either. Burnley will knock it around, but there's a steeliness about them at the back and they'll put a foot in when needs be. Everybody has written them off, but I think they could be this year's Stoke. They'll play in a different way, but they'll achieve the same end product in staying up.'
Most Clarets fans have a high regard for Jeff Stelling and he does always seem to have a soft spot for Burnley FC. I remember stuck in the pouring rain in the far corner of the James Hargreaves Lower last season looking up to the rickety, swaying Commentary Box during that Carling Cup Semi-Final Second Leg match against Spurs. There was Jeff smiling and waving back to the lads after a rendition of 'There is only one Jeff Stelling, One Jeff Stelling'
Let's hope Jeff is right in his predictions although I have a sneaky feeling we could finish a little higher, maybe 15th above Blackburn!!
Barry Kilby and Owen Coyle are certainly being canny with their signings and thinking about the future should we not (god forbid) survive our first season in the Premier League.
Kilby speaking recently to The Sunday Times said:
"You`ve got to be sensible about these things. We`ve concentrated on younger players, brought lads down from Scotland who see it as a step up and can`t wait to have a crack at the Premier League. The thinking has been that, if we went down, we would still have a team that was within our budget, have no debt, be a force in the Championship and have a chance of getting promotion again. You want the best, for sure, but you`ve still got to plan for the worst."
Very sensible indeed in my opinion having seen what has happened to the likes of Leeds, Charlton, Southampton and Norwich over the years.
Good on Barry and thank you for cheering me up Jeff!
Yes,indeedy 'There is Only One Jeff Stelling'