Monday, 15 June 2009

Promotion and that

Hello. Long time no see and all that.

Long and the short of it is that this blog was a University project...and once I'd done as much as I had to for that module, I didn't manage to find the time to keep it updated. I did enjoy it though.

Since my last post it's fair to say a fair bit has happened. Owen Coyle turned out to be God. Graham Alexander turned out to be Jesus. Our squad turned out to be good enough to cope with a ridiculous number of games.

And at the end of it all...we won promotion. I still don't really believe it.

But anyway, keep your eyes and ears open, hopefully I'll stick at this a bit more than last time out.



Friday, 2 May 2008

Stealing information from Facebook is no better than leafing through someone’s diary

A big debate in Journalism at the moment is whether or not it is ethical to take personal information about people from websites in the public domain such as Facebook or MySpace.

Ethics! I hear you cry. What do journalists care about ethics anyway!?

The debate started with the Virginia Tech massacre, where for the first time, journalists liberally took information from killer Seung-Hui Cho’s websites and printed it across various forms of media.

It continued when British student Gavin Britton died and journalists took pictures and descriptions from his Facebook page for their newspaper articles.

But Kim Fletcher of the NCTJ says that once information is published on sites like Facebook, as it is in the public sphere, journalists are free to use it.

“These internet sites fulfil a fantasy many of us have had from our first day as cub reporters. Suddenly no one shuts the door in our faces; no grey-faced, grief-stricken relative tells us we are ghouls and makes us think worse of ourselves.”

Frankly, it astounds me that the Chairman of the organisation that trains journalists and gives them qualifications is advocating, and even encouraging such lazyness from journalists.

It is simply stealing. The information is not there for the journalist’s use. It is not published with them in mind. You would not break into a person’s house and root through their belongings and read their diary, so why would you steal their personal information from a website like Facebook?

Fletcher seems to ignore the fact that only so much stuff can be taken from outside sources and primary information is still crucial to giving a piece some identity to make it stand out from the crowd. If all journalists are taking their information from the same page online, their stories are going to be almost identical. It is from going out and talking to people that this changes, with more colour and drama added to a piece. We are not information-gathering monkeys. There is a skill to it.

This of course is added to the shocking working conditions journalists now put up with. They are effectively chained to a desk with one hand permanently holding a phone to their ear. This is not how it should be. And encouraging yet more use of the internet, which lest us forget is unregulated as yet, cheapens the profession even more.

Friday, 25 April 2008

Just a quick new thing...

You can now add my blog to your favourites on Technorati, if you so wish.

Add to Technorati Favorites

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Issue 12: The squad - Midfielders

As the case is with the defence, a lot of players are available to the manager that can play a midfield role, but there is a dearth of quality and a distinct lack of wide players.

Wade Elliott has easily been our best player for two seasons now, and it was a huge boost when he recently signed a new deal. The right-wing is one of the few areas of the squad where we have no problems whatsoever. Indeed, with Glen Little the previous regular occupant of the shirt, right-wing has been our best position for some years now.

Moving across the field to the left wing area, we begin to find problems. There is not one left-footed winger in the entire squad, which has resulted in various players plugging the gap out there with varying degrees of success. Kyle Lafferty has performed admirably there, but he needs to play up front to get the best out of him. Robbie Blake has not impressed when tried out there. Losing Albanian starlet Besart Berisha was a huge blow, he would be a regular in the side by now had he not got injured early in the season.

At the start of the season we even tried Jon Harley on the wing, but that didn't work, and neither did playing Steve Jones there. Alan Mahon could play there but is more effective through the middle and rarely fit. Chris McCann is left-footed but is never a winger. A new left winger has been a necessity for a while now, and Coyle addressed the problem in January but just missed out on Argentinian winger Marcelo Carrusca. Playing 4-3-3 recently has only alleviated the problem of having nobody to play on the left.

Despite the concern over this position, I'm still more worried about the central of the park. The midfield is where games are won. If you win the midfield battle you invariably win the game. And our midfield simply does not dominate other sides. A midfield pairing has two jobs: to protect the defence and to support the attack. It is rare that our midfield performs either job effectively.

The three men that have made up our midfield pairing for most of the season have been James O'Connor, Joey Gudjonsson and Chris McCann. O'Connor's failings are well-documented. He is too small and lightweight against many midfields that will simply push him off the ball. However, given the opportunity, he is capable of getting forward to good effect and scoring a few goals a season.

However, Chris McCann makes a far better case for being the goalscoring midfielder, with his height coming in useful when attacking and defending set-pieces. His use of the ball is improving all the time and Coyle has already been very vocal about his talents.

Gudjonsson has been a major let down. When he first arrived I thought we had a genuine Championship midfielder on our books, but over a year since he signed he has still yet to show the form he is capable of for the club.

Other midfield options I have not mentioned include former Bournemouth men John Spicer and Garreth O'Connor, who both look likely to leave during the summer. Frankly, despite Garreth's good start and Spicer's flashes of quality, neither looks good enough for this level.

Coyle's success in fixing our problems in the middle of the park will decide whether we can mount a realistic promotion challenge next term or not. We will need another winger to support Elliott and Berisha, and at least one quality central midfield player to give us a chance of finally breaking that all-important top six.

To sign off, here's a video of one of our finest performances of recent years, when we destroyed Norwich at Carrow Road. Notably, two of our four goals came from midfielders, and we dominated them in the centre of the pitch all game.

Monday, 14 April 2008

Issue 11: The squad - Defenders

Once you have your goalkeeper sorted, your next cause for concern should be your defence.

We have plenty of defenders, but there are question marks over most of them as to whether or not they are good enough.

We can assume that Stan Varga will not be retained. David Unsworth has spoken this week about his desire to stay, but Owen Coyle may decide to let him go too. Personally, I'd keep him for another year as back-up. Steven Caldwell has flattered to deceive this season and hasn't really looked fit after his injury. Clarke Carlisle has proved himself a worthy replacement for the erstwhile Wayne Thomas.

Michael Duff is returning from injury (he made the bench in our most recent defeat) but Coyle may see him as the answer to our woes at right-back, where Graham Alexander has shown we signed him at least five years too late. Dean Stott, a young full-back, is highly thought of by those who watch the youngsters regularly, and may come through next year.

On the left, Stephen Jordan has rarely impressed at left-back but has had flashes of competence at centre-back and may be worth keeping as cover. Jon Harley, as good a left-back as there is in the league, has bafflingly yet to be offered an extension to his contract.

Harley staying is incredibly important. Good full-backs are hard to find, and we may be needing one for the right flank too. We surely won't find one better than Harley. He's solid defensively and excellent going forward, and with us likely to be fielding a new signing on the left wing, it is imperative we don't have a brand new flank that would take weeks to gel, together, and with the rest of the side.

Owen Coyle will most likely be making a new centre-back his priority at the back during the summer break. I can see him letting Caldwell go and appointing a new Captain. Duff and Harley will probably be our first-choice full-backs so we will want someone to partner Carlisle. CC's strengths are in his calm head and his tackling. He also has enough pace to cover a slower defender alongside him. His ideal partner would surely be tall and dominant in the air as well as strong on the floor. They will also need organisation skills as we concede too many goals from set pieces at the moment.

Someone like Gary Cahill when he was on loan here from Villa. Players like that are not easy to come by. Another area where Coyle has his work cut out, then.

Friday, 11 April 2008

Issue 10: The squad - Goalkeepers

I think most Burnley fans will agree that a new goalkeeper is a big priority for the club this summer.

Gabor Kiraly and Brian Jensen have simply made too many mistakes, and have probably cost us a play-off place between them.

It hasn't helped that we have been unable to play a settled back five all season, something Owen Coyle will be working on during the summer break.

With Jensen out of contract, it seems likely that we will look to bring in a new first-choice keeper and retain Kiraly as a back-up.

Of course, all goalkeepers make mistakes, so we shouldn't expect a keeper to come in that never makes any errors. That's just unrealistic.

What we should do is target a goalkeeper that can communicate with his defence, come out and claim crosses successfully, and dominate his area. Obviously, they need to be able to save shots, but if we can get a solid unit sorted back there, we should be able to restrict most teams to shots from range.

An area I would like to see us look is in Premiership reserve and youth sides. Ben Foster is probably out of our range, but there are a lot of young goalkeepers at big sides that we may be able to bring in on loan or on permanent deals.

A player we reportedly were taking an interest in was Fraser Forster of Newcastle United, but this week he signed a new deal tying him to the club until 2010. Newcastle also have Dutch youngster Tim Krul, who has played for them in Europe and looks unlikely to get into their first-team.

Whatever happens this summer though, I am absolutely positive there will be an incoming goalkeeper.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Issue 9: Youth and young manhood

One of the things I miss most about living in Burnley is having the chance to watch the reserves and youth teams and see the young players developing and progressing through the ranks.

Four years ago I was watching Kyle Lafferty making his first appearances for the reserve team. Kyle was a big gangly boy, with more than a touch of the Peter Crouch about him. He still reminds me of Crouch sometimes.

I distinctly remember him playing up front and being scared to head the ball. It was infuriating watching him towering over the other players but being unable to use his height advantage.

Since then, Lafferty has progressed beyond all expectations. This week he scored his first double for Northern Ireland, albeit against the international superpower of Georgia.

The fee being touted for him is around £5m, with reports suggesting we have already rejected offers over £3m. These fees seem ludicrous at first look but David Nugent went for £6m, so I really think it’s justified.

Lafferty can go to the very top. He has strength, height, a bit of pace, can run with the ball and is developing his passing and crossing all the time. He also has an eye for goal but could do with developing his composure in front of goal. That will come with experience though. He is also showing for his country that he is capable of playing up front for his club.

I hope Owen Coyle hands him a run in the side as a striker in the last few games of the season.

Also this week, Coyle has spoken about Alex McDonald, a small, pacy striker currently making his way in the reserve side with a record of a goal every other game.

McDonald represents the improvement in the youth system at the club, something previous manager Steve Cotterill must be lauded for. After the youth system was allowed to slip under Stan, Steve resurrected it and now we are reaping the rewards.

There is surely nothing better than watching local lads play for the first team having come through the ranks. It is good watching Kyle and Chris McCann playing regularly but to see a Burnley boy in the side would make me incredibly proud.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Issue 8: They Think It's All Over...It Is Now.

That's that, then.

Defeat at Deepdale leaves us four points off the play-offs with six to play, but the reality is that we've left ourselves far too much work to do over the last half dozen matches.

Once again it was defensive errors that proved our undoing. Coyle again rotated the keepers and Jensen repaid the manager's renewed faith by gifting North End the winner. This came after O'Connor had levelled the scores in the first half following David Unsworth's mistake for the opener.

The defeat means the inquest into the season starts right now.

Looking at the campaign with a sensible head, a top half finish would represent a decent start to the Coyle era. But the sneaking feeling is that with a league as wide open as it has been in years, Burnley have blown a great chance of promotion by failing to put together a consistent run of results.

Errors throughout the side have cost us. Akinbiyi's misses. Goalkeeping howlers. Defensive catastrophes. Poor performances from the midfield. All over the pitch we look weak, and although we technically can still get in that top 6, it looks like Coyle will have a big rebuilding job this summer.

He knows it though, and it should be a busy summer at Turf Moor with lots of transfer dealings. If it isn't, in a league that is bound to be stronger, we may struggle to make an impact.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Issue 7: Still one last chance...

It's clutching at straws time for BFC.

Once again, the team put itself in a great position with the 1-0 win over Charlton last week, and once again, they blew all their good work with a poor performance riddled with defensive mistakes against an average Wolves side.

The defence that had looked so solid against Pardew's side suddenly looked like a bomb had hit it when Mad Mick's team rolled up.

Now, nearly the last place we would want to go needing a result is probably the 3-sided disgrace of a stadium that is Deepdale. So obviously, Preston away is our next game. North End are in good form at the moment and will be looking to put another three points in the bag to avoid relegation.

We must show that we want it as much as they do. The desire of the players has been called into question this week but personally I think it is stage fright. As soon as the expectation levels rise, usually on the back of a good result, in classic Burnley style - we throw it away. It's just the way it is. We always do it.

In the week that he was named in George Burley's first Scotland squad, Graham Alexander will return to his stomping ground for all those years, after he chose to join PNE instead of us when he left Luton Town.

Alexander was famous at PNE for converting those dodgy penalties they seem to get against us every year. Like the one when Fuller dived between our centre-backs in front of the Cricket Field stand. Like the one where Lee Roche was fouled off the pitch by Richard Cresswell and PNE got a spot-kick for it. Like so many others over the years.

Hopefully though, Alexander's penalty prowess will come in handy for us for the first time on Saturday. It must be our turn for some luck at Deepdale, surely.

Over the last few years we've seen some classic Lancashire derbies between the two sides. There was King Arthur's game, where the big defender notched twice in a 3-2 away win for the Clarets. There was the nightmare 5-3 defeat under Stan at the same ground. There was the 2-1 win at Turf Moor with Bertie Bee rugby-tackling the streaker. This year PNE won a pulsating match 3-2, where the referee was the centre of attention. But my favourite of recent years was last year's home game.

And to sign off for this week, here's how the drama (and that is no exaggeration, I watched the game in my Union in Sunderland and hardly touched my pint I was so gripped!) unfolded:

PS - Love the present Gray gave St. Ledger after the big oaf's own goal. Classic.

Monday, 10 March 2008

Issue 6: One last chance

Without wanting to seem too melodramatic, this week's double header at Turf Moor with Charlton and Wolves really will decide the outcome of our season.

Since I last posted, we have put in a completely inept performance at Hull, and dropped two points at Stoke to a very late penalty.

By all accounts the Stoke perforance was excellent defensively, with a predictable return to the side for Hungarian goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly.

But it was the defenders who really stood out, with almost faultless displays across the back four. Unfortunately a solitary lapse in concentration cost us, with the one ball we allowed to bounce in the area going on to be the equaliser.

The Charlton game tomorrow night will see the return of Andy Gray, just six weeks after he left the club in acrimonious circumstances. My admiration for Gray while he was at the club is well-known, but we have to move on, and hopefully his absence will go on to allow Kyle Lafferty, the scorer at Stoke, to fill the void up front.

Gray is not in good form, but former players always seem to come back to haunt us, so it would not surprise me to see his name adorning a Turf Moor scoresheet again.

The two games this week is the final opportunity to keep matters under our own control, with anything less than four points surely leaving us too far adrift to make any impact on the top six.

Finally this week, the club has announced that it has frozen season ticket prices for the coming season, and has also kept up its Premier League Pledge. Good news, but with attendances already on the light side, a lack of incentives for ST holders combined with the recent freebies for walk-on fans means there will have to be a sufficiently exciting end to the season, as well as some quality additions to the playing staff over the summer, to get season ticket sales anywhere near those of this season.

It's a challenge that Owen Coyle will have to show he is up to over the coming weeks. I have faith in him.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Issue 5: Still in our own hands..

As thrilling as the Watford game was*, the crucial fact coming out of the game is that we still have it all to play for, and that we still have control over our own destiny.

We keep saying it, but the next few games are vital, and momentum will be the all-important factor behind who gets a play-off spot and who doesn't.

Taking a point on Saturday when we looked a beaten side will be huge for the squad, who seem to have a belief about them that they can take a positive result from every game.

I was at the Watford game, my first since Arsenal, and the main thing I noticed about the game was how quickly we tried to get the ball to our wingers. Now, this is obviously a good ploy when you have a player of Elliott's quality, but the central midfield has to have the courage to pass the ball forward as well as sideways. We are grimly predictable at times with our play.

I was so pleased to see Robbie looking back to his impish best. Two great finishes from the bench showed us just what a class act he is and what a huge part he can play in the run-in. It was suggested this week that he may be better coming on as a subsitute, but it does seem like lunacy keeping a player of his talent warming the bench. If it keeps him as fresh as he looked on Saturday it might be a worthwhile idea for Owen Coyle, though, who thought we were magnificent.

I have to agree, on another day we could have won by four or five goals, it could have been another Sheffield Wednesday, or even a repeat of THAT Watford game.

It is impossible to talk about the match without mentioning the misses of Ade Akinbiyi. I love Ade as much as the next Claret, but he had a nightmare. He really should have had three or four goals easily. But Ade will bounce back as ever and probably surprise us all with some quality goals in the next couple of weeks.

It's off to Hull on Tuesday, not the most glamourous of places to visit (one letter away from Hell and all that), but it is the kind of place we must get a result to get in that coveted top six. With our away form, I'm confident we can go there and get at least a point.

To sign off for today, here's a reminder of Blake at his very best.

*Yes, I did link to myself. How egotistic am I?

Thursday, 28 February 2008

Issue 4: It's a results game

Although we came away with a 2-0 win in the re-arranged game over Coventry at Turf Moor, the reaction from the fans was blase to say the least.

In difficult conditions Burnley put away the Sky Blues with something approaching ease, despite how poor the home form has been all season.

Skipper Steven Caldwell scored his first goal for the club and this week he has again spoken positively to the press, this time about the club's play-off chances.

However, at this stage of the season, winning is all that counts. Owen Coyle said that we'd played better at Plymouth and lost, but that is just the way it goes sometimes. I'm sure most Burnley fans would sacrifice free-flowing football for a place in the play-offs right now.

The win was achieved without Andrew Cole, again missing with his achilles problem. Cole has also been in the news this week for all the wrong reasons, but hopefully the matter will be resolved quickly and it won't affect his football.

Cole should be back for the critical home game with Watford on Saturday. We all know what style of football Watford will play so Coyle may well pick a more physical line up to try and combat the long ball tactics we are sure to face.

The reserves played this week against PNE reserves and although the result was disappointing there were positives to take from comebacks for both Alan Mahon and Michael Duff.

Both players could play a huge part in the run-in, particularly Mahon who I feel offers something different to our midfield and can be an option for the problem left wing position.

Speaking of the run-in, their has been much debate on the next few games. They're all tough, and when we come through this set of matches we'll have a much better idea of our chances.

Another home win this weekend would really put us in a good position. I reckon it'll be a draw, 2-2, with Cole and Joey grabbing the goals.

Monday, 25 February 2008

Issue 3: Must win? Maybe..

After the bump back to earth that was defeat at Plymouth, there is an early chance for redemption tomorrow night with a home game against Coventry. The home form has been worrying all season, and it is imperative we improve at Turf Moor if we're to get in the mix-up at the end of the season.

Coventry will have the pacy Michael Mifsud in their side, so it is important that Clarke Carlisle is fit to play. The rest of our defence is woefully short of pace. Defending has been an issue of late, with players out of fitness and form or both, and also seemingly not in sync with goalkeeper Brian Jensen. The Beast may pay the ultimate price for inexplicably conceding the first goal at Home Park, losing his place to Kiraly. But that would be papering over the cracks, we need to be more solid at the back.

Up front, it seems that Akinbiyi and Cole may miss out again due to injury and illness respectively, leaving us short of striking options. Robbie Blake has been hit and miss all season and Kyle Lafferty is struggling to win the fans over.

For me, the case with Kyle is clear cut. He's young, only 20 years old. He's played most of his games for Burnley in an unfamiliar left wing position. From that position he's tried to be a winger when he blatantly isn't one. He's tried to cut inside and be a striker. He's tried to get involved in the game. Those of us with half-decent memories will remember he was our best player in the Arsenal game until his red card. The talent is there, it just needs time to mature.

However, Burnley fans are notorious for not giving players time, and it may well work out that Lafferty leaves in the summer to prove himself elsewhere and we miss out on a top-quality striker due to a sheer lack of patience. Time will tell.

So, to the Coventry game. To use a well-worn cliche, every game until the end of the season is now a Cup Final and needs to be approached as such. Win tomorrow and the gap is back down to two points and it's game on. Fail to win, however, and yet again we'll have dropped points at home that we need to collect to be deserving of a play-off place.

Coventry have recently appointed Chris Coleman and I'm not too sure it's a good move. Coleman had his Fulham team playing nice football but still losing. Owen Coyle's side are capable of out-footballing any team in the league on their day. Coventry are in a mess at the moment and we need to take full advantage.

Let's hope that the side puts in a good shift and picks up a crucial win.

Friday, 22 February 2008

Issue 2: The first of many huge games

The end of the season is coming quickly.

We currently lie on the shoulder of the play-off pack. One club always makes a late break and secures their spot in the end of season lottery. We need to make it us.

Plymouth tomorrow is a massive match. They occupy the space in the league directly above us, and defeat could leave us 7 points adrift.

There is no reason why we can't go there and win. The mood around the club is buoyant, following the amazing comeback at QPR and all the right noises are coming out of the club.

Andrew Cole is likely to miss out through injury but Ade Akinbiyi hasn't let us down yet this season. Ade has received a lot of stick from some Burnley fans, but personally I think he could yet have a big impact. Cole and Akinbiyi is a forward partnership that would worry any defence at this level.

This week we've also had great news on the injury front. The Duffman may be back in action in a month and Clarke Carlisle is nearing match fitness. We have missed Carlisle's pace at the back at times and this week he has been praising the quality of the squad.

Congratulations also go out to Duffer for the birth of his first child. Well done fella.

Back to the game tomorrow, and the Clarets are expected to line up with no changes apart from Akinbiyi coming in for Cole. I predict a 2-1 win for Burnley with Akinbiyi and Blake netting.

Friday, 15 February 2008

Issue 1: So this is the start..

..I suppose I should briefly introduce myself.

My name is Jamie, I am 19 years old and I am studying Journalism at Sunderland University.

That should do for now. You don't need to know my shoe size, what my family upbringing was like or any of that malarkey.

This blog will concentrate on the trials and tribulations of being an exiled Burnley fan. Not sure what I did in a past life to deserve being a Claret but once you get a taste of Burnley FC, it is in your blood forever. You could say that the blood that runs through my veins is Claret, and you wouldn't be far wrong.

The blog name comes from a comment made by Burnley boss Owen Coyle after a blatant penalty was denied us by yet another incompetent referee. We tend to get rather a lot of them. Incompetent referees will probably be quite a fixture in this blog.

To finish off for now, congratulations to Andrew Cole on completely proving me wrong at QPR. I thought he was past it. I thought his legs had gone. I was wrong. Hopefully Cole can be the catalyst that gets us into the play-offs.

I'll sign off for now, we have a weekend off now so a friendly is lined up against Bohemians.