Date: 9th September 2011 at 7:17am
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Cuban Claret grabs a rare cigar over the international break to reflect upon the opening exchanges of the season arguing that Wade’s departure signals time for new heroes.

Cuban Claret grabs a rare cigar over the international break to reflect upon the opening exchanges of the season arguing that Wade’s departure signals time for new heroes.

Burnley`s Brave New World

EVERY now and again, the Clarets Player on Burnley FC`s official website reminds us that it is actually worth a little less than 10 pence a day to reach for the “behind the scenes” life at Turf Moor.”

One of those occasions I enjoyed earlier this week. During a turgid international encounter between England and Wales, I enjoyed a glass of white wine and a stroll around Gawthorpe with Clarets chief Eddie Howe.

Until this point I`d not actually realised that he and his assistant Jason Tindall had been the visual engineers of what looks to be a very pristine facility. And although I was aware that Cotts, Owen and Brian had trained their respective Burnley teams while nipping over to the Turf for a wash afterwards, it was only really when taking this virtual tour that it dawned on me how dilapidated our training ground was. We were the first team in the country to own a separate training facility (so I remember Jimmy Hill once saying on Football Focus) and here we were attempting to be a Premier League outfit in facilities not even at “League Two level”.

It was pleasing to see a proud Eddie holding court at Gawthorpe. He`s often looked like a fish out of water in his brief tenure at the club but when you see how he`s lovingly curated the players` environment, there`s a growing sense of comfort in how he fits into the surroundings.

It was a little amusing to see the official site describing the Clarets boss as “Content Eddie Howe” when referring to his transfer window dealings. Everybody knows he`s at least two or three short from where he wants to be as he is at pains to point out in his bulletins.

But in fairness Eddie did look happy with his lot on the training ground, even if the last few weeks have not been free of irritations for him.

He has handled himself with great poise and professionalism despite obvious concerns. He doesn`t make excuses and appears to be focusing on what he has got, rather than what`s been lost. He managed to channel all of that into a really positive performance from the team at Derby. I was lucky enough to be at that one and it felt like a genuine turning point.

The enforced break was not too welcome after that and the Middlesbrough game can`t come soon enough.

It seems the sparse amount of football action has been buried by events and non-events off it.

Ever since the departure of Chris Eagles and Tyrone Mears on the eve of our pre-season visit to Torquay – coupled with Jack Cork`s decision to make the more lucrative move to the South Coast and Southampton – there has been mounting scepticism from supporters.

Barry Kilby`s cautionary response to our downwardly spiralling fiscal condition was a little too honest for many. He might have simplified it all by saying. “Well we had some spare cash but Brian spent it all on players.”

Eddie was at his lowest ebb after Crystal Palace, where we were, by all accounts, poor. The team that had needed a “few tweaks” a few weeks earlier, had become a “team in transition”.

Since, buoyed by both a win and three “anywhere across the line” young attackers, Eddie is in offensive mood, “content” with life but accepting that “not all of it was planned”.

So what was in the plan and what wasn`t in the plan? The sale of Danny Fox – it seemed – was not in the “plan”. Brendan Flood had a different plan. But did all the plans come together for the deadline day decision to pack Wade Elliott off to Birmingham?

It appears that it was even in Wade`s plan! Somewhere along the line, it turns out that our Wade, my mum`s favourite player, and one of the finest Clarets of a generation, “wanted away”.

One could be forgiven for thinking that the player described below was just what our Burnley squad needed ahead of the transfer deadline day.

‘He can play anywhere across that midfield area, he’s got an offensive ability and can score goals.

‘He’s also a fit lad who knows the Championship very well. If you look at his record of games over the last six or seven years he doesn’t miss many games.

‘He’s a reliable player and with the amount of games we’ve got this season then you need somebody with that reliability.’

With no small irony, this was of course the assessment from Birmingham boss Chris Hughton on his eleventh hour capture.

Elliott`s south coast comrades would not, after all, be helping him see out a Turf Moor swansong. There would be no new lease of life from the Bournemouth connection. 283 games, a fans favourite and a consistent first teamer for his three previous managers, but not welcome in the nu-school or the new changing rooms.

Is it a shortcoming of Eddie Howe`s management skill that he struggles to get the best out of experienced players? Or was it simply that Wade had reached the end of the line in a Burnley shirt?

Whatever, experience appears to count for little in the new strategy being adopted by Burnley FC in terms of player recruitment. Eddie has swapped our six-season man and immortal Wembley hero (not to mention a man who Clarke Carlisle described as being “much more intelligent” than the country`s brainiest footballer) with a rough diamond 21-year-old new father of twins. Welcome Junior!

Grooming fresh talent and polishing up rough diamonds is what Eddie is all about. Or at least, it seems, it`s what the Burnley FC Board think he`s about. There is no obvious place at Turf Moor for those on the wrong side of 30 years old who consider first team football the norm.

Initially, I felt only indignation that we had decided to let Wade go. But such frustrations tends to subside. It’s only football after all.

The upshot of the squad upheaval has been far greater than any of us could have imagined and now, more than for a long time, will this young team and manager need united support from the stands.

It`s a time for new heroes. For my mum. For all of us.




12 Replies to “Burnley`s Brave New World”

  • Cuban – good article. Thank you. It would be very interesting if you could post an update quoting from Eddie’s statement on the official site today. In the meantime, I am not sure we’ll know for some time exactly why Wade left, and the truth in this as in so many things may well be more than can be neatly summarised. But of these things I am sure… I wish him well, except against us, and have a store of almost entirely postive memories, which are recorded in a thread in the forums of this site called Wade Elliott Burnley Legend.

  • Great article Cuban.

    When EH told Wade he was not guaranteed a starting shirt this season and he realises 4 4 2 is more likely than 4 5 1 the reality is it is time to move on if you can’t accept it.

    I wish Wade every success but just like Robbie it was time to move imo.

    I have long banged the drum about Gawthorpe, when tmp has been saying why can’t we attract top class managers and players. It has always been my opinion that until Gawthorpe is dragged into this century and gets Academy Status we will continue to be playing catch up. There is still work needed and further investment required at Gawthorpe, it should just be the start of continuous improvements.

  • Not much was said in Eddie’s interview Couch. Just that he’d been a terrific servant, very consistent and that Eddie couldn’t speak highly enough of him.
    And that Junior has been a target all summer.
    I have written a piece just on Elliott for the next WTBM – where I suggest that Elliott’s form has been patchy ever since Coyle left. Almost as if he was the one who seemed to suffer the most from his departure.
    If you think he saw out the Laws tenure – and all the deflation that went with it – then embarked on yet another new era with Eddie, I think when it looked like he wasn’t a centrepiece of Eddie’s plan he’s decided to move on.
    It might have made a difference if the club had been more settled, but Wade’s interview at BCFC was also interesting, it sounded like he genuinely fancied a new challenge in the autumn of his playing days.

  • I suppose that what I found interesting, cuban, was how Eddie switched back and forth between calling the change ‘huge’ and ‘drastic’ on the one hand, and ‘slightly bigger than we anticipated’ on the other, explaining that ‘certain things have happened which have forced our hand’. Of course, those ‘certain things’ could be just about anything! But it reinforces my impression both that Eddie was part of the decision-making all along and that the decision-maker group on the Turf were not entirely in control of events! (Which is probably true at football clubs at all levels everywhere.)

  • But then it would be easy to read in other interpretations… As an illustration of which… I have just been reading Gary Sidley’s excellent WTBM statistical analysis of players last season. If those stats don’t lie, we won’t miss Jack Cork much given his low frequency of goals and assists, but will miss Chris Eagles more than I have thought, and will miss Grezza much more than any of have spoken about, given how well we did when he was on the pitch. Cuban – do you think Grezza was released, or was the strength of his ambition to keep on playing week in week out, rather than bulk up the numbers while making the transition to a life of coaching one of the ‘certain things’ that Eddie talks about having ‘happened’? My guess is that Eddie wanted him to stay.

  • Yes, excellent article cuban and yes the indignation/disappointment has subsided for me as well. But I’m still waiting to hear, as we eventually will, why Wade wanted out if that’s true. When it comes, it’ll probably be no surprise that it was to do with Eddie’s concentration on youth and that time on the bench was forecast to increase as a result of that. I still feel that Elliott could have been an important asset to bring on the youngsters, but he’s gone now so there’s an end to that. Let’s move on and see if the Young Guns can do their stuff against Boro tomorrow.

  • Really good read CC – having been at Palace (dire) and Derby (faith restoring) I am looking forward to seeing what lies in store for us over the coming weeks. On Elliott, I suspect as per other posters that it was his gradual slide to almost “fringe” status under EH and possibly the lure of abit more cash at Brum – given his age that is understandable in footballing terms.

  • CP – personally I still think Grezza is the most impt player we have never replaced. When you consider the team that got promoted he was the man OC “could hang his hat on every week” and to a large extent in the Premier League too. So much went through him.
    I think I’m in the minority when I thought he should have retained his place in the team last season, but it was inevitable he would go when he still has so much passion to play. He was, I believe, offered a coaching role but passed on it to move to PNE.
    Pretty sure Eddie was pisd that Eagles left – there was definitely mutual admiration tehre.

  • After yesterdays terrible display against Boro, it is clear we are missing all of them! We are a million miles away from replacing Fox, Mears, Eagles and the rest if that’s the best we can offer. Grezza would have steadied the ship, McCann is not a captain is he?

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