Date:Wednesday April 11 2007
It was a torrid time for everybody concerned at the club until we finally won our first match in 19 against Plymouth only a week ago This of course was closely followed by two further thumping wins against promotion-chasing Birmingham away and Cardiff at home over Easter.
The club are now more or less safe from relegation having reached 51 points, a tally usually recognised as safety. The Clarets are 17th,now 9 points clear of the third from bottom club with a game in hand and a vastly superior goal difference to all those below us
Not only have we got a maximum 9 points from our last three games we have also kept a clean sheet now for 375 minutes of play. Its also fair to say that this remarkable turnaround has also been achieved by playing attractive football. The recent performances have also mirrored to some extent a lot of the matches that saw the team in the Top 6 for most of August to November 06 before the injury to Andy Gray seemed to destroy our confidence.
At the height of the awful run between December and March, Vital Burnley FC decided to run a poll to gauge the fans opinion about the gaffer, Steve Cotterill.
There have certainly been strong opinions on either side of the fence about the manager's role in all this. In the local pubs around Burnley and in the 'virtual pubs' on various Clarets message boards,opinion has been divided.
Some of the anti-SC vote has been particularly venomous with calls for a 'hanging' of the manager, with quite a few wanting him sacked before the end of the season. The pro-SC vote found it increasingly more difficult to support him, the longer the winless run continued but they will have been cheered by recent results. There was also a sense that some of the pro-SC vote were lying low, perhaps finding it difficult to support SC in front of their anti-SC peers.
Of course quite a number were also undecided either way and felt we should see whether we could avoid relegation first before deciding in the close season whether the Board should review the manager's contract.
The Board have shown remarkable patience under the circumstances and it would be difficult to find in today's climate a manager still standing after a winless run of this nature.
There were signs at the recent Luton home match both during and certainly, after the disappointing game, that the fans were getting restless with a chorus of boos from a section of the fans ringing round the James Hargreaves with chants of 'Cotterill Out'. This to some degree seemed to stir the pro-SC lobby into applauding the team and manager off the pitch. Of course, they might not all have been particularly pro-SC, just angered by the negative effect on morale and confidence that the booing may have had.
Due to the sense that the anti-SC lobby seemed to be shouting the loudest, the feeling was that the manager's days might be numbered but the more sober results reflected in our poll seems to tell another story.
Nearly 200 fans using the Vital Burnley FC website voted in our poll and here are the results:
In light of poor results, should Steve Cotterill be replaced?
He Should See Out his Contract 37%
Review Situation in Summer 07 32%
He Should Go Now 31%
It would appear therefore that the majority (nearly 40%) still have faith in the gaffer and want him to see out his contract. Almost 70% would not have wanted to see the manager sacked before the end of the season. It seems despite the protestations only one third wanted the manager to go immediately.
Of course one third of fans if mirrored across our current fanbase of about 11,000 is still a sizeable number, especially if some threaten as they have not to renew season tickets if Cotterill is still there.
The manager must however also be buoyed by the poll results considering this vote represents the situation at the height of our winless streak and we have since hit winning form again.
Its difficult to give an explanation for these findings. Perhaps its the realisation, that under the circumstances we have not done too badly under Steve Cotterill. We have had one of the smallest squads in the League for sometime and until recently had to sell key players in the January period (Blake,Chaplow-Season 1 and Ade Akinbiyi Mark 1-Season 2). In all three seasons and particularly this season, we have managed to be in a position to push for the play-offs before Christmas but always have seen our chances evaporate in the New Year.
There has been criticism levelled at Steve Cotterill that we have played dire football but its quite clear that we are capable of playing very attractive football, witness the last three matches and quite a few of the matches up to Novemebr 06 this season.We just need to do it consistently
There has also been criticism that the cash injection in Jan 07 has been wasted. It is of course true that Ade Akinbiyi and Joey Gudjonsson have failed to produce the goods so far but both players played only a handful of games before they arrived and found themselves in a team low in confidence and not winning.
Steven Caldwell has been an excellent signing and the loans of Paul McVeigh and Eric Djemba-Djemba are now proving to be inspirational. Some of the earlier signings, notably Steve Jones and Wade Elliott are now also playing again with confidence and scoring too.
It has also been a slow process for Andy Gray since his return against QPR back in February. He had not really recovered from injury and reached maximum performance until the Plymouth game. He must surely get on the goal sheet soon.
If we can continue the recovery and continue the attractive football, if we can get Ade Akinbiyi and Joey Gudjonsson playing like we know they can and if maybe there is a further cash injection for players in the Summer then our future could be very rosy indeed.
There is also a feeling by some fans that we have one of the best squads for sometime both in terms of quality and quantity and that this could be improved even further in Summer 07.
Steve Cotterill must realise by now though he is a very lucky man and still has a lot of convincing to do but lets give him that one final chance and prove that the faith shown in him by a large proportion of the fanbase and the Board has been worthwhile.
However what do you think about the current situation? Why dont you vote in our new Poll which asks whether you still think Cotterill should go in the close season and if not how long we should give him.
Date:Wednesday April 11 2007
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