Date:Sunday September 4 2011
We have had a hectic close season debating the rights and wrongs of the club`s transfer policy, the Board`s strategy and our short to long term future. Some have viewed the articles on the site as being overtly negative and some have felt uncomfortable with criticism of the Board and club. Others however have welcomed the debate, joined in and aired their views positively or negatively. The overall effect has been good for the site in terms of hits having doubled from about 900,000 to over 1,800,000 since May 2011. Why does that matter? Well, our very existence is mainly to raise money via our 'Hit the Site, Help the Club` campaign. I am sure most of you know by now that the more hits we get, the more money I get paid and the more money I can give to Clarets Trust to buy shares in Burnley Football Club. That of course helps the club financially whilst at the same time giving the Trust a bigger say in raising the concerns of Clarets fans.
I am of course though acutely aware that being critical of the club can have its negative effects and as Editor of the site I do at times have to tread a fine line balancing the need to increase our hits with stimulating debate whilst at the same time trying to keep the peace with both our posters and the club.
You all know my stance on these matters and I don`t intend to go over those issues again. I have vented most of my concerns until I am blue in the face and now it is time for me to relax and chill seeking the good things that are happening at our club. My passion for change bordering on frustration, emotion and anger at times, I can see can have an adverse effect on certain individuals but we are all Clarets in the end seeking the same thing namely success for our football club. We just have different ways of thinking how that might be achieved.
I am physically drained now defending my position and I need cheering up, so let`s have an uplifting positive debate now on the good things happening at our club. I have not of course been alone in my criticism of the Club but I ask those who have agreed with some of the criticism to now join in with me and tell us what they do like about the club and what in particular gives them confidence for the future.
If I could set the ball rolling I would like to mention a few things in particular:
The Chairman and Board
You would think if Barry Kilby had read some of my criticisms about him and the Board on Vital Burnley that if we met in the street we would probably walk on opposite sides of it and ignore each other! I would hope that would not be the case. Believe it or not I do have a healthy respect for Bazza and believe he has done a lot of good things for this club and of course he is a Clarets fan like the rest of the Board. That can be both a positive and a negative in some respects but today I will just dwell on the positive. There is no doubt that running a club must be a difficult task having to balance the budget against the wishes of the supporters to spend more (at least some of us!). We can argue if the budget is not ambitious enough or not but the very fact someone has to run a club like Burnley in its very self deserves respect from all fans. I should not have to say this but there is of course no personal issue that I have with Barry Kilby or indeed anybody on the Board. I just have issues about the direction and level of ambition that the Board appear to show at times.
Some of the positives though include the development at Gawthorpe which at long last seems to be taking us into the state-of-the-art in the 21st Century not the 20th! You have to applaud the Board for sorting that one out even though some may have wished it had happened earlier. Youth development too has to be a great positive for the club. In the capable hands of Vince Overson and Martin Dobson, I think we should be really proud of the achievements made and the pipeline of youngsters coming through the system.
Eddie Howe has my 100% backing. He might not be as demonstrative and high energy as Owen Coyle used to be in the technical area but there is something about the guy that tells me success could be just around the corner. It is just I am not sure how long the street will be before we get to the corner!
I may have some doubts about his policy to reduce the age of the squad to the levels he has which in effect also removes a lot of experience in the team but I am willing to support what he has done and see how it pans out.
So many have said recently, 'In Eddie We Trust`. I too am in that camp and now he gets chance to prove his worth with his own team. I wish him all the success in the world and he won`t get much criticism from me if things don`t quite work out in his first full season. Other factors are at play here and you can only do so much with the hand you are dealt.
I have been very happy with our signings during the summer believe me. Of course I could argue we have not signed enough or not signed proven players with experience but let`s say the potential of all our signings looks pretty good to me. The ex-Hammers pairing of Zavon Hines and Junior Stanislas actually excites me! I have not seen Junior play yet but he comes highly recommended and I can`t wait to see what he can offer. The few cameos I have seen from Zavon also gives me confidence. He looks a pacy, exciting striker and he offers us something different up front.
Danny Ings at 19 is obviously one for the future and it is just a pity the injury came before we had chance to see what he might offer. In Eddie Howe we trust though and I am sure he will be a fans` favourite before long.
Our two loan defenders from Manchester City have undoubted quality. Kieran Trippier seems to have made the right back slot his own already and looks to be improving every game whilst Ben Mee looks solid in defence in the main despite the odd lapse.
What about Keith Treacy? I don`t think we have seen the best of him by any means at the moment but the potential is certainly there and I believe he is a great prospect. He has clearly suffered in these early games from lack of match fitness but he looks to be improving all the time as his fitness returns.
What about the other players already at the club before the summer transfer window opened?
You have to give a special mention to Charlie Austin. He looks a great striker and he`s going to get a panful for us this season if his current form continues. I am also delighted for David Edgar, who for so-long has been sitting on the sidelines waiting to shine. He could be the surprise package in our back four this season and I hope he succeeds in becoming a regular starter. Is it just me or has Ross Wallace become a different player this season? For so long last season, he simply didn`t seem to be at the races but now you want to see him start every game. At times he seems to be on fire down the wing and a right handful. I am sure we shall see some goals from him this season too! Most of them from over 25 yards!!
One of the strong positives for me too is the number of players in the Development Squad coming through with so many now on the fringe of moving up to the first team. Alex MacDonald is one player who has surprised me. I had him earmarked for being released this summer after no first team appearance since 2009 but obviously Howe has taken a shine to him and it seems to have paid off! He doesn`t look like a striker to me being relatively short and stocky but there is definitely something to his game and I hope he makes the breakthrough this season.
Then we have Wes Fletcher, Alex-Ray Harvey, Dominic Knowles, Joe McKee, Steve Hewitt, and Kevin Long waiting in the wings. Well just spelling the names out tells you our long-term future at least looks secure!
You may have thought I had no hope at all for the club based on some of my recent ramblings but that is not the case. My only concern has been that I am not sure now is the right time to be going through a transition period with so many new, mainly young, inexperienced faces around. I think promotion is now more critical than ever before with the FIFA Fair Play ruling around the corner linking salary cap limits with club turnover but that doesn`t mean I am in total despair.
Eddie Howe may well have the knack of taking this virtually new team and turning them into promotion contenders this season. I would love that to be the case and in my heart of course I want that to happen so much. You will forgive me though that my mind is telling me that midtable is the most likely outcome. Even if that is the outcome, the following season may well be a different kettle of fish and by then this squad could well have gelled together so much we could be really strong candidates for promotion, even an automatic one. The optimism is also based on the fact that our youth development could well be bearing fruit as well by then so in that sense the future looks rosy.
A lot has been said about the removal of deadwood and reducing the squad average age. It is right that we had to go through this cathartic process with so many players still it seems hungover from the heady days of Owen Coyle and Wembley. We did hear rumours a lot of the players since released or wanting a move did not have their hearts in the club anymore. We can debate the reasons for that but taking the fact at face value then yes time to go!
It has also been said that the squad we have now have a hunger to get this club to where it belongs. That I think is also true and I welcome it. My only reservation is that I feel we may have lost too much experience now and with a young, unproven captain could struggle when it really matters in the high pressure must win games! I could well be wrong though and hope I am!
So that`s it really. You see even I can see a lot of benefits and I also do have hope for the future based on what I see rather than some sort of blind faith. Perhaps I am just impatient and want success yesterday but I hope today I have put across a more upbeat message and been more balanced. I do hope this has not come across as 'cheesy` after what I have said in the past. That is certainly not the intention. I believe what I have said above just as much as I have spelt out my concerns previously on the other side of the coin.
Finally an apology from me. I can't apologise for the strong opinions I have, they remain the same but I can apologise for the way I may have used the site to ram them down some of your throats! I have listened to many about this issue and taken note.
Now it`s down to you! Tell us all what is good about the club at the moment and try and refrain as much as possible from going back to the stuff that concerns you!
Date:Sunday September 4 2011
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