The Laws of Diminishing Returns
Media reports yesterday both locally and nationally suggested that Board Members were split over whether to keep Brian Laws as Burnley manager.
The Board met on Monday night to discuss the managerial situation but could not decide an outcome despite four hours of discussion according to an article by Suzanne Geldard in the Lancashire Telegraph yesterday. The paper also alleged that Kilby and one other director were in the pro-Laws camp with Flood and six other directors feeling it was time for a managerial change
The Club were quick to react to the media speculation and reports and issued the following statement on the Official Website:
'Contrary to inaccurate local and national media speculation, the Burnley Football Club board of directors wish to make it clear that Brian Laws' position as first team manager is not under threat.
'Laws met with club chairman Barry Kilby and operational director Brendan Flood to plan next season's player recruitment and budget, with a view to giving the club the best chance of returning to the Premier League.
'Brian Laws has two years remaining on the contract he signed in January 2010.'
The full story behind the speculation will probably never be known but on the principle that there is 'no smoke without fire` the media have continued to chip away coming up with their own take on the situation as everybody tries to fit the bits of the jigsaw puzzle together.
In an article in the Mirror published online late last night it was stated that Chief Executive, Paul Fletcher had joined forces with Operational Director, Brendan Flood to try and get a new manager in place by the start of next season. It would appear though that Barry Kilby had his way in the end despite having a minority of support from the Directors. In what the Mirror describes as a 'stay of execution` Laws has survived and will be given the first ten games of next season to prove he is the right man for the Clarets. I should also add at this point that the article was NOT written by Alan Nixon who seems to have some sort of mole working for him at Turf Moor if his recent accurate articles are anything to go by.
The Daily Telegraph today generally backs up the statements made in the Mirror and also adds that it has been made clear to Laws that the team must make a strong start to the 2010-11 campaign in order for his position to be secure beyond the opening weeks of the season. It would also appear that this compromise was reached after Kilby met with Flood on Wednesday morning.
The paper also suggest that former Hull City manager Phil Brown, Leicester`s Nigel Pearson and the Swansea manager Paulo Sousa all have support among those directors calling for Laws to be sacked and then they sensationally state Mark Hughes, sacked by Manchester City last December, has also been touted as an unlikely successor for Laws.
Suzanne Geldard in another article in the Lancashire Telegraph today does not appear to have backed down on the earlier statements of hers that led to the Club having to issue an official response. She does seem to have toned down some of the speculation though and now says:
"Barry Kilby has stuck to his guns and given his backing to boss Brian Laws, despite facing initial opposition from board members. Clarets chiefs met at Turf Moor on Monday night to discuss the next step following relegation after just one season in the Premier League, with the majority understood to be in favour of starting the search for a new manager straight away. "
In an interesting aside she also let slip that Kilby & Flood looked at 20 candidates to replace Owen Coyle in January before opting for Brian Laws as their preferred choice. That number struck a chord with me, in view of the timescales involved I thought they might only have been looking at a handful of options. Sean O`Driscoll obviously appeared to be in the frame but that was the only other name we seemed to be strongly linked with in the media at the time. Wouldn`t you just like to know who those other candidates were and what might have been?
However getting back to the issue at hand it seems clear now that Laws job is pretty secure at least for the pre-season and the first ten games or so of the new 2010-11 Season in the Championship but I think it is one of the daftest compromises possible and sends out all the wrong messages. The pressure for Laws to win will now be intolerable and the discontent of a vast number of fans will still be bubbling under the surface waiting to break out if the games do not go our way. Also as I said previously what are our new targets going to be thinking with all this uncertainty about the future of the manager? How many players would be happy coming to a club knowing that ten games down the line the manager could be out with a new one coming in?
I just think Barry Kilby has got this wrong and if the speculation is true he should have accepted the democratic vote on the Board and gone with the majority of the Board`s wishes. It is a weak decision in my opinion that serves no purpose other than to prop up a lame duck manager, a manager that now knows most of the Board do not back him and even worse that a sizeable number of fans also do not support him. He will now be under increased pressure to succeed. This really is a Megson waiting to happen and I just hope Brian Laws has the strength of character and technical expertise to prove his critics wrong but it really is both a big ask and a big risk. This wishy-washy compromise could significantly diminish our chances of getting promotion if it all goes tits-up.
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