Date: 2nd January 2008 at 11:28am
Written by:

A miserable New Year`s Day in Blackpool completed an awful Christmas for the Clarets as our ‘donkeys` duly took three lashes from the masters of the art at Bloomfield Road.

Burnley’s 3-0 drubbing against our local rivals in this ‘Donkey Derby` brought to an end our impressive away run of seven games without defeat and the manner of our defeat was so bad, that Owen Coyle was forced to apologise to the fans after the game.

His honeymoon now looks to be well and truly over and he will now have to show his true managerial skills as the Clarets enter their traditional Christmas collapse with a small squad and a catalogue of injuries and suspensions. The most worrying statistic is that we have now gone six games without a win and it all sounds too familiar as we slide down the table. We are now in 12th place virtually where we were when Owen Coyle took over. Our 34 points from now 26 games sees the Clarets still only five points from the play-off positions but worryingly only seven points away from the drop zone.

The Championship is unforgiving on teams on a losing streak and it`s so tight that two wins or two defeats on the trot can see your team reach dizzy heights or plummet to new depths with no team being able it seems this season to make an impression consistently. Any team is capable of beating any other it would appear as we know to our cost.

It`s no use beating the likes of Watford, Charlton and Wolves away only to lose to teams like Preston and QPR at home and now the Satsumas on the road.

This sort of match is difficult for any Editor to write as a fan. Usually there is something positive you can get out of any defeat but this truly was so awful, you just want to curl up and die not write about it. There was absolutely no pride or no passion from the team today. There was no spark in what after all was a local derby match. Clarets fans were leaving Bloomfield in droves after the third goal went in and who can blame them.

Something is seriously wrong when the gaffer has to apologise to the fans and this statement from the gaffer sums things up in a nutshell:

‘There are ways of getting beat and that is certainly not one of them.

‘I am deeply hurt by that and I feel that I should be.
There were one or two I thought giving everything they had, but it’s not one or two you need.

‘It was beyond belief and I have never seen a performance like that come from that set of players.

‘I thought Blackpool started better than us and we never coped with their strikers.

‘Having said that, when you analyse the goals they are very cheap and overall it is nowhere near the standard that we are looking for, or have shown before.

‘There were far too many people nowhere near their individual standard and collectively nowhere near the standards I expect”

The kneejerk reaction though from some of the fans was predictable with already rumblings that Owen Coyle might not be our saviour after all with some already calling for his head. How silly that is, just as it was in my opinion calling for Cotterill`s head. I think eventually the penny might drop that it is going to be difficult for any club with a small squad like ours to consistently perform well in this division no matter who the manager might be. I would think even Jose Mourhino would struggle to get this squad promoted after all the injuries and suspensions we have had to contend with recently. I don`t think in all honesty we will ever be able to compete with only 22-23 players in our squad when most of the teams around us have the luxury of about 25-30 players. We recently got down to the barebones and could only select from 14 players. Things got so bad we even had to draft in a second-year apprentice (Adam Kay) to make up the bench in the match against Bristol City.

One by one though the arguments put forward for getting rid of Steve Cotterill are beginning to look a little suspect.

Owen Coyle of course has made the right noises dropping the word ‘entertaining` into every other sentence and we have adopted a more positive attacking style (until yesterday!). We then hero-worshipped him as those fantastic away results came in from Watford, Charlton and Wolves and some said he was so good he could get Cotterill`s men to play attractive football and win.

Now of course with no home win since Coyle arrived and no win at all in six matches the fault lies with Cotterill again because it`s his players!

I suppose losing to the likes of now bottom placed club, Preston and having to suffer the loss of three points to newly-promoted local rivals Blackpool does focus the mind and it`s no wonder the knees were jerking again yesterday.

The truth of the matter is that we do indeed have to see what Owen Coyle can do with the players he currently has but also the new ones he will soon hopefully bring in with the January transfer window now open. We do however also in my opinion, if we really mean business need to get the squad up in quantity to a size that competes with most of our rivals. I believe only then with more options might we get that consistency and be able to find cover for injuries, suspensions, second-half season tiredness and the inevitable loss of form that players will get from time to time.

Despite that though there is absolutely no excuse for that gutless, passionless display by virtually all the players yesterday.

It all started so brightly as well with the good news that Andy Gray was fit to play (in hindsight maybe he wasn`t!). Gray was duly selected to start though with the unfortunate Ade Akinbiyi being the casualty and back on the bench. This was a bit harsh on Ade who played well in the previous match standing in for Gray hitting the woodwork three times. There was no option though if Gray was to play with our leading scorer having scored 28 goals for the Clarets in 57 league games. Two further changes to the line-up against Bristol City saw the return of Graham Alexander after his one match suspension for a fifth yellow and also Chris McCann back in midfield following his red-card three match ban.

Clarke Carlisle of course was out with his hamstring injury and Alan Mahon with a similar injury was also still sidelined. The Clarets therefore lined up as follows:

Kiraly, Alexander, Caldwell, Unsworth, Harley, Elliott, J.O`Connor, McCann, Lafferty, Gray, Blake

Subs: Jensen, Jordan, Jones, Akinbiyi, G.O`Connor.

The aptly named West Midlands referee, A. Marriner got this seaside derby underway and Andre was soon to spot that the Clarets were likely to be ‘all at sea` for most of the match! The first 20 minutes of this match to be honest was dull and scrappy with hardly anything happening in attack by either side.

However, it was Blackpool who finally broke the stalemate after 23 minutes punishing the Clarets sloppiness in defence from a corner by Wes Hoolahan. Latvia defender Kaspars Gorkss found he was totally unmarked and nodded home the ball. Kaspars Ghost was to haunt us for the rest of the match as we rarely got out of first gear.

Our bad luck then continued when Chris McCann, just back from a three game ban, picked up his fifth yellow of the season after a poor challenge. At least the lad will be available for the FA Cup match against Arsenal but it means he will now have to serve his one-match suspension against Plymouth the week after.

Defensive woes then continued to cause Owen Coyle a headache after David Unsworth was forced to leave the pitch with a left-leg injury on 30 minutes, Stephen Jordan taking his place.

At long last with only eight minutes of the half remaining Pool keeper and former Claret loan, Rachubka was called into action for the first time following a foul on Kyle Lafferty on the edge of the penalty area. He managed to save a superb free kick from Robbie Blake and the ball skipped past the post for a corner.

It was Blackpool though who deservedly went in at half-time 1-0 up, leaving the 891 Clarets fans at the match wondering when our team was going to turn up (as it turned out they never did!)

Briefly at the start of the second half, it looked like the Clarets might have finally arrived. Lafferty from a Robbie Blake free kick headed just over but soon after Blake, who earlier had been injured was replaced by Akinbiyi and the second half then just got worse and worse for the Clarets , so bad in fact I think I`ll stop writing about it.

Did I tell you that the Clarets had won 90 matches at Blackpool over the years with Blackpool only 91? Did you also know that it was April 1971 when these two sides last met in the top flight? Paul Fletcher scored in a 1-0 victory at Turf Moor that day but it was also the same season that both clubs were relegated (at least Blackpool were bottom!)

Oh go on then I better complete the match report (sigh!)

Any hope of a comeback and some New Year cheer for the Clarets fans evaporated in the 59th minute when Burgess headed home from a Jorgensen cross after some nice build up play from Wes Hoolahan. So we were now 2-0 down with the Clarets in disarray.

A few minutes later it was game over when Jorgensen in the 63rd minute shot from 25 yards hitting the back of the net with Kiraly well-beaten.

That was it really as the final whistle went. This was the worst performance by any Clarets team in sometime and the word ‘entertaining` certainly could not be applied to this gutless effort from the Clarets. Were the Clarets booed off the pitch? You could hardly hear it if they were mainly because all the fans had long since left the ground.

Happy ******* New Year!! Words fail me, Arsenal? You are having a larf!


Blackpool: Rachubka, Crainey, Barker, Jackson, Gorkss, Taylor-Fletcher (Fox 79), Jorgensen, Flynn, Hoolahan, Vernon (Morrell 75), Burgess (Slusarski 86).

Subs Not Used: Evatt, Welsh.

Booked: Gorkss.

Goals: Gorkss 23, Burgess 59, Jorgensen 63.

Burnley: Kiraly, Alexander, Caldwell, Unsworth (Jordan 31), Harley, James O’Connor, McCann, Lafferty (Jones 71), Elliott, Gray, Blake (Akinbiyi 56).

Subs Not Used: Jensen, Garreth O’Connor.

Booked: Lafferty, McCann.

Ref: Andre Marriner (W Midlands)