Filed: Friday, 2nd December 2011
By: Preview Percy
With three matches in a week it's not just the players who have been a bit busy. Preview Percy has been slaving over a hot something or other to give us his view on this weekend's match against Burnley. On the bright side, at this time of year if we keep him occupied at least he won't be shouting at carol singers. Meanwhile, John Northcutt takes a look at some of the history between the clubs.....
And so homeward bound we trek where we next encounter Burnley for a 3pm Saturday kick-off untouched by the greasy hand of television. The District Line is open, but those coming from the North & West of town might have to jiggle their routes a bit with the Met, Hammersmith & City & Circle lines all having engineering works. The H&C won’t be serving Upton Park this weekend.
I was somewhat surprised when I looked at some of the recent stats for our visitors this weekend. They’ve won their last two which seems to suggest some kind of form. However, I was quite surprised to see them in 14th spot with 24 points from their 19 matches thus far. That’s five points behind Leicester who currently occupy the last of the play-off positions. A quick look at the current form guide gives the game away. Before the recent wins at home to Ipswich (4-0) and away at Hull (3-2) they had lost their previous four, going down 2-1 away at Birmingham and at home to Leeds, and 3-1 at Bristol City and at home to Leicester. All of which proves that I ought to pay more attention.
The boss is Eddie Howe for whom this is a second managerial role having toughed it out for three years at Bournemouth where his budget consisted of whatever he could find amongst the fluff and stuff down the back of the sofa. At least it was until they had their sofa repossessed. Howe’s been in the Turf Moor hot seat since January and still looks young enough to play – though the knee injury four years ago that did for his Bournemouth playing career would probably have something to say on that matter. In fact as he has himself wryly commented, he is in fact older than some of the players under his charge.
One of those elder statesmen is Danish ‘keeper Brian “Beast” Jensen who has found that, despite his youthful appearance, Howe is not one to be easily swayed by pressure from his senior pros. Jensen found himself out of favour under Howe’s predecessor Brian Laws and put in a transfer request last Christmas. Any thoughts that he might be in pole position for the ‘keeper’s role under the new boss soon evaporated and he has only a handful of starts to his name this term.
The spot between the posts is usually occupied these days by Lee Grant, who arrived to join his old Sheffield Wednesday boss Brian Laws at Turf Moor in the 2010 close season. Grant was heavily tipped for full international honours but a look at his career seems to suggest that he has been unlucky with injuries, those usually happening just as a younger understudy comes into his own. Also, although capped at the various age levels up to U21 level his international ambitions won’t have been over-enhanced by the fact that the bulk of his career has been spent outside the top flight. Still he can console himself with the knowledge that no other 'keeper has ever won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for their role as Felicia Carp in the 1975 Warren Beatty vehicle "Shampoo".
In defence they have Man City kid Kieran Trippier. The young right back is in on a season-long loan from the oil billionaires, having spent last season at Barnsley for whom he proved a bit of a danger from dead ball situations, though he has yet to open his Burnley account. Trippier has an FA Youth Cup winner’s medal from 2007/08 and is an England U21 cap, though he has yet to make a first team appearance for the Citizens.
Also in defence is Canadian David Edgar. Though born in Kitchener, Ontario, he is a product of the Newcastle youth system, having made the transatlantic trip to Hebburn upon Tyne at the age of 14 to live with his Gran. He stayed with Newcastle until the end of the 2008/09 season in which the Geordies got relegated, capping a rotten time by getting sent off in the last minute of the last game of the season. He rejected a contract offer of tuppence and all the free plimsolls he could carry from the Magpies to join Burnley in July 2009 for a tribunal-avoiding fee of £300,000. He’s picked up his first full international caps for Canada this season and his two goals in the 3-2 victory at Hull were instrumental in the Clarets’ comeback from a 2-0 deficit.
The skipper is Dubliner Chris McCann. The midfielder blotted his international copybook at a very early age by crying off from an ROI U21 squad on the grounds that he thought that there was “no point” to his being there. This cheesed off U21 boss Don Givens, whose response to being asked whether or not he would pick the player again was pretty scathing: “Would You?” Relations between the player and the ROI authorities are said to have thawed out a bit since then, possibly prompted by the player noting the progress the senior side made in qualifying for Euro 2012. However, to date a solitary U19 cap is the sum total of his international recognition to date.
Former Bournemouth player Marvin Bartley has, in the past , divided opinion – or so a casual gander at one or two of their forums would suggest. However his form in recent months has been such that at least one supporters’ website gave him their player of the month award for both September and October. When I last looked at Burnley there seemed to be some sort of competition going on to come up with the most bizarre “urban myth” about Bartley, some notable entries suggesting that he owed his Bournemouth career to having discovered Harry Redknapp in a compromising position and that he once knocked out Lennox Lewis. Prior to his joining Bournemouth (whatever the circumstances) Bartley played for Hampton & Richmond Borough under the managership of Alan Devonshire.
Talking of ex-Hammers, there are, of course, a couple in the visiting squad. Zavon Hines was the first to go, leaving for a reported £250,000. Never the most prolific of goalscorers at the Boleyn his progress was hampered by a serious knee injury that saw him miss the better part of a year. Mind you he picked a decent game to make his return in, coming back as he did in the 4-0 demolition of Man Utd. Come the summer and it was said that he was about as impressed with the club’s contract offer as the manager was with his showing in training. He hasn’t actually started for the Clarets in the league as yet, his ten appearances thus far all coming from the bench.
The other ex-Hammer in the squad is Junior Stanislas. Felix (as his passport says he should be known – bet he keeps that quiet up there) made his last appearance in the real claret & blue scoring in the 2-1 defeat to Aldershot Town in the League Cup. He is also (in)famous for having scored a brace in the 3-1 win over Millwall, attracting criticism from some parts for the nature of his goal celebrations which appeared enough to over-excite the shared brain cell amongst the visiting support that evening. Stanislas has featured more regularly in the starting line up than Hines, making 12 starts.
Up front they recently signed Wolves’ Welsh international Sam Vokes on loan until mid-January. Vokes was on target in the 4-0 win over Ipswich in midweek. Vokes came in as a replacement for top (league) scorer Charlie Austin who will miss this one having dislocated a shoulder in the defeat to Leeds.
The other principal goalscorer this season has been Jay Rodriguez. His Dad is a former Claret having played in the 80’s after a spell with Deportivo La Corunna. Rodriguez somehow preferred Lancashire to La Corunna, marrying a good northern lass in the process. Rodriguez junior is currently the club’s top scorer taking both league and cups into account having netted eleven times in total, of which six have come in the league. He netted the fourth the other night against Ipswich.
Our turn now. Injury news is that, as suspected, Little Sam’s hamstring will keep him out until after the festive season. However, John Carew’s knee seems to be ok again and on the right we have a nice little trio available in the form of O’Brien, Demel and Faubert. Although Demel was clearly feeling his way into the subtleties (or otherwise) of English Championship football up at the Riverside on Tuesday my spies inform me that there was certainly the early signs of a potentially nice partnership with Faubert on that side of the pitch.
Otherwise on the injury front it’s largely a matter of rounding up the usual suspects to go see matron.
Our form of late, though occasionally patchy in places seems to have been on a steadily upward curve and the Boro’ game apparently showed us at our most clinical. Most observers commented that the game was effectively won in the first 20 minutes. That’s something that we need to continue doing (warning – deliberately mixed metaphor follows) – once we have gone for the jugular we need to keep our foot on the pedal and not let opponents off the hook.
The last two occasions we have met this opposition we have put five past them. Their recent revival makes a third nap hand most unlikely. However, if they come and try to play and we are not having one of those off days to which a tired and stretched squad might be entitled during its third match in five minutes, this should still be a winnable fixture.
As for a prediction, well after my Nostrodamus impersonation for the Derby game I returned to usual form for Boro’ so I can sleep safely in the knowledge that I haven’t suddenly gone all accurate. I think we’ll win and I think it may be close. 2-1 to us then as we maintain (or even increase) that nice little gap opening up twixt us and third place.
Enjoy the game!
When last we met: Back in February we won 5-1 in the Cup under the lights at the Boleyn. A 30-yarder from Hitzlsperger, two goals from Carlton Cole – one screamer one comedy effort and a header from Winston Reid put us 4-0 up. Jay Rodriguez netted for the visitors following a Wayne Bridge brainstorm. Reid’s goal-line clearance at 4-1 (which involved clever use of both crossbar and post) reminded us of the previous year’s 5-3 victory in which a 5-0 lead suddenly looked rather precarious. However Freddie Sears’ late effort was enough to settle the nerves and put us through to the next round, much to the disappointment, no doubt, of ESPN who had picked the “Struggling Premier League v Championship” tie for the telly in the hope of an upset.
Danger man: Jay Rodriguez Was on hand to poach a goal against us last time out and, as top scorer, he’ll need to have an eye kept on him. Honourable mention for Junior Stanislas in view of the “law of the ex”.
Referee: Fred Graham I am indebted to the good people at the Football League who, for reasons unknown, replaced Tuesday night’s original official with the loathsome Mike Dean. Not for the replacement itself (any match Dean takes charge of is one too many) but for having the good grace to keep the switch quiet until quite late on thus preventing my blood pressure rising to life-threatening levels. For Graham, who these days operates out of Stanford Le Hope, this will be the first time he's taken charge of a match involving us. I can’t trace him having taken charge of any Burnley matches either. This will be his 5th Championship match of the season, most of his other outings have been in League Two this term.
Daft fact of the week: Burnley often claims to be home to Britain’s shortest river, The River Brun. This is despite it being twice as long as the other two contenders for the title put together. Unless they measured it the last time I was up there. Well we’d been in the pub for ages and I was never going to make it to the ground before the inevitable happened. It is estimated that a hydroelectric plant installed at the appropriate spot would have produced enough power to keep both light bulbs in the town lit for several minutes.
Stat man John: Northcutt's corner
Bad boys: sent off
Ted MacDougall (h) 1973-74
Chris Cohen (h) 2004-05
They Played For Both
Tyrone Mears, Zavon Hines, Junior Stanislas, Luke Chadwick, Reg Atwell, Frank Birchenough, Herman Conway, Joe Gallagher, Walter Pollard, Ian Wright, Jack Tresadern,Tommy Hampson, Alan Taylor.
John Bond was the Burnley manager between 1983 and 1984
Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.
10:08AM 3rd Dec 2011
''Another highly entertaining and well written piece - I have no idea who you are, but presume that this isn't a byeline: John Bond was the Burnley manager between 1983 and 1984.''
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