Was Amougou that Bad?
It has not been a good season for central defender, Andre Amougou. It started with the unusual announcement that he had changed his name and would no longer be called Bikey but Amougou. It ended with Amougou being on his Bikey on loan to Bristol City until the final week of the season and looking like he had played his last game for the Clarets.
Andre Amougou, along with Keith Treacy and Zavon Hines all secured loan deals on loan deadline day last week and indeed all three players may find their days at Turf Moor numbered after failing to impress this season. We shall review Treacy and Hines in a separate article since these were both Howe signings but we focus on Amougou here and ask what went wrong.
Amougou, formerly known as Bikey, was one of Owen Coyle`s signings. He arrived at Turf Moor just a few days into the start of our Premier League season in August 2009 and made his debut in a baptism of fire game against Manchester United at home. Only the previous season, he had been controversially sent off playing for his former club, Reading against the Clarets in the first leg of the Play-Offs semi-final at Turf Moor. The Cameroon international having stamped on Robbie Blake and seeing red chucked a wobbly, throwing his shirt to the ground in a fit of rage before stomping off! He was disciplined by the Royals and of course was suspended for the second-leg clash at the Madejski Stadium. Burnley of course won both legs and progressed to Wembley for the Play-Offs final and we all know what happened then!
It perhaps came as a surprise to many fans that about three months later, Burnley would be trying to bring the hot-headed centre back to Turf Moor. All it seems was forgiven and perhaps Owen Coyle felt confident he could control the defender`s outbursts and temperament. In the end, Amougou agreed a three-year deal and set about trying to convince somewhat sceptical Clarets fans that he was the right man for the job.
Amougou to give him his due did just that and soon the fans were impressed by his defensive displays and took him to heart. Clarets fans were also soon treated to his trademark goal scoring celebrations involving backward flipping somersaults. He scored his first goal for Burnley in a 2-1 Barclays Premier League win over Birmingham City on 3 October 2009! It was later in the season that Coyle started to experiment by trying Amougou in midfield. Looking back on it now, that was probably the slippery slope for Andre. It seemed to affect his concentration and when he played defensively again he appeared to lose his focus on occasion making some silly blunders. The expression 'Bikey Moment` had been born!
I think though most Clarets fans still have a soft spot for the 27 year old and earlier this seasons many thought he should feature more to shore up our wobbly looking defence. Something seemed wrong though and Eddie Howe appeared reluctant to start him. Was there some sort of a personality clash between the player and Eddie Howe? Many suggested there may have been since he was not in contention even when the defence was leaking goals.
The problem for Andre was that when he was finally selected to play, he started to make errors again. His form never seemed to return to that of the early days. Amougou has played 78 games for the Clarets but has struggled this season even to make the Reserves let alone the first-team bench.
His last appearance in the first team was in the FA Cup clash at Norwich back in January and he has not featured since, not even being named on the bench.
In the Championship, his last appearance was against Leeds at Elland Road five days before the Norwich match when he came on as a substitute. You would have to go back to the first of November 2011 for the last time he started a league game. That was in our 3-1 defeat to Leicester with Howe it seems making Amougou a scapegoat for the loss.
Many Clarets fans began to sense Amougou`s days at Turf Moor must be numbered, especially with his contract running out in the summer. The latest news this week suggests very much that Amougou has played his last game for Burnley FC.
It was announced on Thursday (loan deadline day) he would now be playing for Championship strugglers, Bristol City on loan until the last week of the season when he will probably return to Turf Moor until his contract runs out later in the summer and then be able to seek a new club and leave as a free agent. Amougou duly made his debut for Bristol City in the Robins game away to Middlesbrough on Saturday helping them come away with a well-earned point in a 1-1 draw despite his side being down to ten men following McGivern`s red card.
The reason we can be so confident Amougou is likely to be off in the summer comes from the mouth of Eddie Howe himself. It is clear as expected Amougou does not feature in Howe`s future plans after the gaffer said this week:
'He is a high earner and being out of contract I think it's best for Andre he goes and plays his football and then probably looks to find a club"
Is there a hint of a clue there that Amougou is not wanted because once again they want to reduce the wage bill? Who knows, that could be part of the problem but you just sense too that the two have never really hit it off and that on the pitch, Amougou in his limited opportunities this season has been unable to play consistently well enough to warrant a new contract. Sometimes things simply don`t work out and this looks to be the situation in Amougou`s case despite the early promise. If he could have found his earlier form, Howe may have been tempted to offer him a new deal. We shall never know, but if he does now leave in the summer, which looks highly likely I am sure all Clarets fans will wish the affable lad all the best!
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