The Burnley Ins, Outs and Maybes!
There have been some announcements this week from the club affecting both our management team and player squad. There has also been speculation about some of our players in the rumour mill. Here is a summary of the events and gossip this week.
We start at management team level with an announcement yesterday that both first-team coach Stuart Gray and development/reserve-team coach Ashley Hoskin would be leaving the club following a review of the Clarets' coaching and playing set-up. The club have advised the decision has been made as part of a long-term restructuring of the Clarets' management set-up.
Gray joined Burnley in January 2010 as part of manager Brian Laws` set-up and after Laws was sacked in December 2010 the 51 year old enjoyed a short spell as caretaker manager before the arrival of Eddie Howe and Jason Tindall. The former Southampton and Northampton gaffer was then retained as first-team coach for the remainder of the season.
Hoskin, 43, was appointed as development/reserve-team coach at the start of the 2010/11 campaign. Our former winger steered the Reserve team to the runners-up spot in the totesport.com league (North West) this season narrowly being pipped to the post by ultimate champions, Preston North End. Hoskin`s dual role also involved working with the club`s development squad.
Talking about the development squad it was also revealed that four players had been offered new deals. Wes Fletcher and Alex-Ray Harvey would be staying at the club following completion of two years. Both these players have spent a lot of 2010-11 out on loan with Fletcher playing for struggling Stockport County for 3 months earlier in the season. County though were sadly relegated from League 2 finishing in bottom spot and now face a stint in the Blue Square Bet Premier League next season. Fletcher made his debut for the Clarets this season coming on as a late substitute in our Carling Cup second round game away to Morecambe back in August 2010.
Harvey on the other hand has been playing for Fleetwood in the Blue Square Bet Premier this season and helped steer them into the play-offs. Sadly though, they got thumped in the play-offs semi-final by AFC Wimbledon going down 8-1 on aggregate following a 6-1 away defeat on Wednesday night.
Another player securing a new deal is striker, Dominic Knowles. Knowles only signed his first professional deal last summer and finished on a high being named for the first time in the eighteen in our last game of the season against Cardiff City at Turf Moor. He was an unused substitute.
The last of the development squad to be offered a new deal is the oldest of the bunch, Alex MacDonald. He actually made his debut three years ago coming on as a substitute in our last home game of the season against Cardiff City. Alex, 21 has been a full-time professional on our books for three years now and is a Scotland Under 21 international. In 2009 he had a spell out on loan to Falkirk and in January this year joined Inverness Caledonian Thistle on loan until the end of the season.
Four players however in the development squad have been released so we will be saying a sad farewell to Chris Anderson, Nik Kudiersky, Chris Lynch (all second-year professionals) and Michael King (who has just completed his first year as a pro)
There have also been some announcements this week regarding our first-team squad. Three players out of contract in the summer have not been offered new deals whilst one has secured a new two year deal.
Wade Elliott is the one player so far who has been successful so far. He has penned a new two year deal which will take him to June 2013 despite strong rumours that both Brighton and Southampton had shown some interest in the player and had approached the club.
The three players released include Remco van der Schaaf. Yes, the forgotten man was still on our books! The 32 year old midfielder has been on loan at Danish side Brondby IF since January 2010 but it was always widely expected he could join them on a permanent deal once his contract at Burnley expired. Owen Coyle signed the former Vitesse and PSV Eindhoven player for Burnley in July 2008 offering him a three-year deal but Remco failed to break through into the first team making just one appearance.
Another player released was yet another of Owen Coyle`s signings. Kevin McDonald is another that has failed to live up to expectations despite showing early promise and of course he didn`t help his cause by sloping off to a local pub at half-time after being substituted during the 6-1 home drubbing against Manchester City last season in the Premier League. Brian Laws and the club through the book at him and although finally given another chance he failed to get back into the first team and spent most of this season out on loan. He had a one month spell at struggling Scunthorpe in October 2010 before joining Notts County in February 2011 until the end of the season. All in all the Scotland Under 21 international has been a huge disappointment but we will always remember the goals he scored for us against Arsenal in the Carling Cup quarter final back in December 2008. His brace that day at Turf Moor gave the Clarets a 2-0 victory over the Arsenal youngsters setting up a juicy semi-final clash against their London rivals, Spurs. We all know what happened next that season!
Perhaps the saddest news this week was the announcement that we would also not be renewing the contract of striker Steven Thompson. Thompson, 32 is now widely expected to move back to Scotland to be closer to his family and could be playing in the SPL next season with both Hibernian and St Mirren reportedly interested in signing the player.
Thommo was yet another of Owen Coyle`s signings. The former Dundee United, Rangers and Cardiff City striker penned a two year deal for Burnley in September 2008 and was offered a new one year contract last year under Brian Laws.
Burnley fans of course have fond memories of Thommo and he was always a popular player at the club. He will best be remembered for the excellent partnership he built up with Martin Paterson during our promotion season and who will ever forget that wonder goal he scored at the Madejski Stadium in the play-offs semi-final second leg against Reading? He didn`t really have a good season though in the Premier League with limited opportunities to shine although he did finish the season on a high with four goals from six games.
It looked like he was back on form in pre-season last year but found he had to play second-fiddle to Brian Laws` new signing Chris Iwelumo for most of the first part of the season having to be content with a place on the bench. He then suffered from a persistent infected groin in the second-half of the season which ultimately required surgery leading to him being sidelined for seven games during March and April. Thommo managed to start just four games this season with two of those being cup clashes. It was probably on the cards he would not be staying at the club when his contract expired this summer but it is still sad to see him go and we wish him well.
Finally we finish on a bit of gossip from the Rumour Mill with the summer transfer window about to be in full flow.
It is inevitable that Chris Eagles will once again be linked with a move to a Premier League club and the gossip has already started.
So far it has been reported that both Wigan and Everton could be interested in the former Manchester United midfielder.
The Daily Star claimed this week that Latics boss Roberto Martinez is could be ready to make a move for Eagles but only if Wigan can retain their Premier League status.
At one stage in the last January window, it looked like Chris Eagles could be leaving Turf Moor to join Everton but in the end nothing happened. It is thought however that David Moyes could make another approach for the player this summer.
Tyrone Mears too could be a target from Premier League clubs although as yet there has been no specific rumours concerning the right back.
Eddie Howe recently made a comment concerning the prospect of losing both Eagles and Mears stating:
"I`d imagine there would still be focus on them because both have had good seasons and both have one year left on their contract,
"I certainly hope they both stay because they are important parts of the team.
"But we just have to wait and see."
Graham Alexander has also been subject to speculation about a move this week. Clarets fans had already been talking about a possible return to Preston as a player before this week`s rumour mill sprung into action. The talk earlier in the week was all about Grezza becoming the new manager at Morecambe following the departure of Sammy McIlroy on Monday after five years in charge at the club. The Shrimps were understood to be keen to make the 39-year-old Burnley midfielder their player-manager at the Globe Arena. However, on Friday it was announced that Morecambe's new player-manager would be current team captain Jim Bentley.
Grezza has been player-coach at Burnley for the last two seasons at Turf Moor, but both his playing and coaching duties have been limited this season. The captain has spent most of the second half of the season on the bench although of course he did reach the major milestone of 1000 career games after coming on as a substitute in Burnley`s recent home game against Swansea.
With the club carrying out a long-term restructuring of the Clarets' management set-up it is difficult to know if Graham Alexander features in those plans and if not he may well be tempted to move back to Preston now that the Morecambe job has evaporated.