Take nothing for Grant-ed!
Cuban Claret has had other thoughts on his mind recently rather than football and Vital Burnley can announce he is now the proud father of a baby boy, Roscoe James Evans born on 12th February. So we have another Clarets fan!
I am sure you will all congratulate Cuban on this great news.
He tells me now that he is on paternity leave he has time on his hands to write articles again presumably whilst changing a nappy! Who said men could not multi-task?
He has been busy already putting together his thoughts on the important match coming up on Saturday against bottom club,Portsmouth and we provide his article below.
PORTSMOUTH look set to become the first ever club from the Premier League to go into administration within 24 hours of their visit to Turf Moor.
On the face of it, the timing of this development could be seen as a positive purely from Burnley's point of view of earning a vital three points against a fellow struggler.
However, the fear of failure facing the Burnley players in the face of Pompey's undignified demise could hardly be more acute. Avram Grant's beleaguered squad are still paid mighty salaries to play football, albeit usually a few days late, and they have proved on many occasions this season that they have some quality and a collective pride in their group.
Of course the hope from Burnley's perspective is that this latest, crucial blow, will be a step too far for the Portsmouth players and life should be less difficult for the needy Clarets. But, as Avram Grant likes to muse: 'this is football' and there is absolutely no room for resting on laurels.
That said, the pictures of the Israeli caretaker manager yesterday on Sky Sports News were that of a beaten man. It's hard not to feel sympathy for Grant. He comes across a genuine guy and he looked almost tearful at the of the club's pending point deduction. Until this point, he has tried to instil belief and fight into his squad, and this has been reciprocated despite the dwindling numbers at his disposal.
However, Brian Laws' men can't afford to concern themselves with the mindset of the opposition. We need to put all the effort into this one as we did against West Ham, and if we perform to that level, we should be OK.
Firstly, it is fitting to extend our sympathy to Portsmouth's stoic supporters. While a period of administration is the least the club deserves for its utterly flagrant fiscal impropriety, the fans, as ever, are the ones who are set to suffer the most. Portsmouth, like us, are one of only 16 post war league champions. Their proud history has produced a loyal fanbase and they have always impressed with their vocal away followings in all corners of the country. What they have achieved at Fratton Park over the years is the kind of atmosphere we have generated at the Turf this season and it has served them well.
I made my first visit to Fratton only this season. I was amazed at how much the stadium felt like Prenton Park, home of Tranmere Rovers. There was a poorly painted mural running down the back of the away end with kids drawings of some of the heroes of their recent history. Although endearing, in a romantic, retro kind of way, it felt palpably small-time. It had me wondering what was going through Portsmouth supporters' minds when players of the calibre of Crouch, Defoe, Diarra, Kranjcar and Muntari were lining up in front of them in such rustic surroundings. Was there never a hint of 'how the hell can we afford all these world class players in our 20 and a half thousand capacity stadium?'.
To be fair, with the exception of the excellent football finance journalist David Conn, there didn't seem to be many other people asking these questions either. Even more remarkable is how hapless Chief Executive Peter Storrie justifies a reported salary of £1.4m per annum from the sinking ship. The guy ought to be arrested for piracy.
Having just attended an excellent evening organised by the Clarets Trust where our manager and chairman were exposed to open questions from a forum of Burnley supporters, it made me very proud that the comings and goings of our club can be so openly discussed with the powers-that-be. We should not overlook how lucky we are having our club run by Burnley supporters. Whether it will be enough to keep us in the Premier League we will have to wait and see, but at least our long term future is secure and we should not lose sight of this fact no matter what the remainder of the season throws at us.
Back to the field of play, I expect Brian Laws to pick the same team that started so well at Aston Villa with the exception of David Nugent, who I assume cannot play against his parent club. This means a recall, I hope, for Robbie Blake, but Martin Paterson might be the manager's choice if he chooses to go for effort over guile.
There is also an argument for the energy of Wade Elliott ahead of the comparative lethargy of Kevin McDonald. To be fair, I don't think Laws knows his best team so it's anyone's guess, but surely on-loan Jack Cork, our best player at Villa, keeps his place alongside Andre Bikey. As poor as the Cameroon strong man was at Villa, his last two performances at the Turf should see him retain his shirt.
Portsmouth's chief danger is their pace on the break with the likes of Piquionne, Dindane and Owusu Abeiye and in players like Jamie O'Hara and Nadir Beldhadj, they have individuals who can summon something from nothing.
If we can gain control of the match early on and establish the lead, we should be OK, but Pompey's capabilities on the break, as they displayed at Southampton, can be impressive and we need to be on our guard.
Three points are an absolute must from this one and with rivals Bolton facing Wolves and with Hull and Wigan facing tough away games, we could make life much more pleasant for ourselves by Saturday evening.
The manner of last week's defeat at Villa Park left many of us clutching at straws but a study of the remaining fixtures reveals a run-in that we would not swap with any other rival. Ironically Bolton's outlook is particularly bleak. Anyone who witnessed ITV's highlights of Owen Coyle visibly losing his mind during another White Hart Lane debacle for his current club should be warmed.
Can one of Wigan, Hull or Wolves join them? I think so, but our own survival chances are surely is dependent on us achieving three points tomorrow.Matt Evans aka Cuban Claret