Date: 17th March 2010 at 1:08pm
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Cuban Claret reflects on life in the Premier League this season using his thoughts from a year ago to propose his theory that the Championship aint that bad you know!

The fallout to Burnley’s defeat against Wolves at home last Saturday coupled with Hull City’s dismissal of Phil Brown this week has left Cuban Claret a little disenfranchised with the ‘at all costs’ existence of the Premier League.

Turn the clock back to this time last year and the thrill of the closing stages of a magnificent Championship campaign.

Cuban wrote the following article for the When the Ball Moves…Magazine but missed the deadline.

He unearths it here instead, simply for a bit of respite and a bit of reflection on what is becoming an increasingly bitter Premier League experience.

Premier League? You’re having a laugh

THERE was plenty goodwill being thrown in Burnley’s direction when the pundits picked their play-off contenders pre-season.

More than anything, it was probably the landing of Chris Eagles that made Premier League-obsessed hacks take notice of us.

And isn’t it ironic (in an Alanis Morrisette kind of way?) that our regular substitute made no. 13 in FourFourTwo Magazine’s 42’s Top 50 Players in the Championship.

Robbie Blake, consistently one of the top 10 Championship players for a decade, wasn’t mentioned!

But with the Championship season grinding to its usual gripping climax, here we are, like many predicted, ‘there or thereabouts’. On the cusp at a crack at reaching the ‘Promised Land.’ Anything other than a fairly dramatic implosion should see us make the top six. But we only need to look at the five straight defeats after Christmas to remind ourselves what can so easily happen.

Ten points from our last six matches will leave us on 75, and match our previous record Championship tally. Only in that season (2001/02) was this total an insufficient one to reach the play-offs.

It was the super slick football we conjoured up at Coventry as far back as October that convinced me we were a top six side. Any other recent season I’m sure the amount of cup games would have scuppered this notion, and I guess they still might come to bear over the final strains of the season but frankly, it’s hardly a hardship if we don’t make the play-offs and we shouldn’t get our knickers twisted if we pull up short.

Truth is, in so many ways, I couldn’t care less if we do or don’t go up.

Maybe being weaned on lower league football is part of the problem. I feel conditioned to watch football at real football grounds and follow a team that can compete. We’re about where we should be, indeed a little higher. Let’s not get greedy, it could wreck everything.

Watching Burnley this season has been so pleasurable in context of my 25 or so years following the club that I want more of the same. I’d like to see Owen Coyle and his young charges develop and get better; see Kevin McDonald and Jay Rodriguez blossom as young starlets in the Championship. In a perfect world, the Burnley born and bred descendent of a Spaniard would be Burnley’s Steve Bull, a one club man who’d notch 250 goals in 475 appearances! Sure, we can continue to scalp Premiership teams in the cups but every week. We shouldn’t forget it’s better to win at Plymouth than lose at Portsmouth, to outclass Preston rather than doggedly resist Stoke.

Better to marvel over sustained success for our team at the right end of the Championship than approach it with the sole objective of avoiding demotion from where we came.

The Premiership is a crude league where myths are made and predictability is rife. It’s very difficult not to really dislike nearly everyone in it. Just look at Blackburn, perishing in Premiership purgatory, hating their football almost as much as everyone hates them. Their most creative players benched and their talented young forward loaned out to Greece. OK, so Owen Coyle won’t tell his players to boot the ball at the moon but a genuine attempt at survival will come at a cost. Many of the current fifteen who have slogged their guts out for us over 55 odd games would need to be sacrificed. And for what? Marlon King and Scott Carson on loan.

And we’d play less games. 38 instead of 46. What kind of season is that? We’d do well to win a quarter of our home games. Misery most weeks walking past IDIOTS on the coaches from Tottenham, Arsenal, Devon Red Devils, Wigan(!) Liverpool. Proper idiots. The Big Four ? 6-0-6. Spoony. Alan Green. Alan Shearer. Steve Claridge. Jamie feckin Redknapp. IDIOTS. Just for one minute imagine sitting through The Last Word with Andy Gray analysing Clarke Carlisle’s defending?

There’s a school of thought suggesting this has to be this season. It’s now or never. This year or we’ll lose the manager to Bolton. The team will break up. We have proved this season, in Owen’s words, we can go toe-to-toe with the best. Such a philosophy has been undertaken by Tony Mowbray and it will last for one underwhelming season punctuated with small joy. Nobody should kid themselves that West Brom have had a more enjoyable season than Burnley.

The Premiership gauges out on the most appropriate cliche. ‘The grass is always greener’. I would like us to get there, of course. But only because of this season. Not the next one. For the chairman. For Robbie Blake. And for Graham Alexander. For the rest of us, it would be better to wait. Best league in the world? We’re already in it.

Cuban Claret


23 Replies to “Premier League? You’re having a laugh”

  • So much I hate about the Prem, the money, the TV rights and the messing about with the fixtures, the ticketing fiasco and the hassle getting tickets, the deluded belief that you might beat Liverpool at Anfield, the deluded belief that if you beat Man U at home all will be well etc etc…and YET and YET 33 years to get back and play in the most prestigious league in Europe, be mentioned every week in the papers, see the Town on the map, drink and banter with Man City fans instead of Preston fans? Like everything else pros and cons but I guess from my way of thinking playing in the big boys league is still preferable than freezing your nads off at Plymouth!

  • Up until this season I had lost practically all interest in the premier league, largely because of the silly money situation – where’s it all going to end etc. etc. I remember talking to Preston and Wolves fans last season with the general concensus being ‘is it worth going up to be tuned every Saturday ?’ My answer at the time was that it would be worth it just to get a slice of the money if nothing else and also to see . . . just to see. Well is has been worth it , and the results against Utd , Everton, Sunderland etc. , not to mention some of the performances even in matches we lost, such as OT and Chelsea have all made it worthwhile and have added good memories to an already long list. I really do hope we stay up, but I don’t have a problem with the Championship at all , especially as I think we’d be contenders there without a doubt. And then we’ll be back and all the wiser.

  • I had a conversation with Cuban before the Derby game last year, which is probably about the same time this was written. It is a good article, as per usual, and I agree with most of what is written. I wasnt sure I wanted to be in the Premiership although the thrill of achieving promotion was an absolute dream. I have thoroughly enjoyed this year and the way we have gone about trying to compete but for a variety of reasons – I will not be too upset if we have to wave it goodbye.

  • Turfman – I wish you hadn’t brought Plymouth up! If we do go down, it looks highly unlikely that either of my local teams (Plymouth and Southampton) will be there to greet us! But there’ll still be Bristol, and maybe Swindon if they could sneak past Leeds (Come on!), and Portsmouth and Cardiff if they don’t get liquidated.

  • Having had a taste of thr premier League and being able to watch all our away matches live on the pc and the home ones that we havent got to. I will be gutted if we go down (and its looking that way) to be amongst the elite best teams top league in Europe if not the World Burnley has become a household name again in the football world The best teams and players coming to Turf moor I havent seen the like for 33 years so be proud we lived to see it lads. If I have to wait another 33 years I may be dead or far to old to go to watch Burnley play. So lets be proud of where we are now and what this little club have achieved If we go down there will be tears. But Our dream lives on.

  • Really interesting this Cubes. I have mixed feelings about the Premier League. Positives include the fact that we’re playing at the top level, have a lot more press coverage and, I suspect, promotion pacified the bank manager. Against that, we’ve struggled for points, tickets are no longer guaranteed and there haven’t been as many midweek games under lights. I hope we don’t go down and we still might not – but if we do it won’t change my love of the club in any shape or form.

  • This article was written in the relative euphoria of a promotion challenge but I’m sure if we are relegated I’ll be as gutted as the next person.
    I recall that feeling of an exciting season in the Championship being second to none – as it is free of the pretension that exists in the Prem. I still feel there’s an adventure in store in these closing weeks – but feel a sense of perspective is somehow being lost in the anguish of it all.

  • Yep nice one CC I have taken my mind set back to last season a bonus if we go up a bonus if we stay up! we will no doubt be better off than we were whichever league we are in.

  • It really is an amazing story, and an absolute privilege to be able to live it. No-one can take that away from me.

  • Top writing CC. Agree with Couch and would add win lose or draw I am just so happy to be here and if it is only for this season, I for one will have had an amazing adventure and we have lots more points than Derby County.

  • Nice one VR! Given that a chunk of my extended family are Rams, whether we stay up or go down, having bragging rights over them is priceless.

  • Superb article, my joy when we won the playoffs equalled my joy when we won the 1st Div on the last day of the season. The trip to the Prem has had its moments but last season had more with memorable cup wins and that finale! If we do go down it will not be with total regret and I will be happy to leave many aspects of the money grabbing, results at any cost Prem, Coyle and the rest of them to their idea of sport and enjoy some good honest football.

  • What will our aim be in the Championship though? To stay there, to go up and stay up stronger next time or to yo-yo like WBA? It strikes me at the end of the day on a financial footing despite the horrors of the Prem from so many angles, being in the top flight is the only way forward. If folk want just good honest football then does that not mean we stay in the Championship and have nothing to fight for? We have been critical of the fair-weather friends this season who could disappear again if we go down, we might say good riddance to them but that affects the finance at the club. I think we have to decide as a club where our ambitions lie. I just hope we stay-up full stop, establish ourselves in the top flight and fight our corner against all the other bollox. The more I think about it, the more I dont want to go back into the Championship, it would give me absoloutely no satisfaction whatsoever other than being able to get to all the games I wanted to without the ticket hassle

  • I think our aims have to be realistic and this is my old drum but I truly believe we have to invest in Gawthorpe and put the structure in place to attract, better young players, better players and dare I say better managers. Chicken and Egg, if big Sam goes they will attract a big name manager, why? Because the set up is superb at Brockhall any top manager would see themselves working in a place like that. Investment has to be done at a realistic pace if we are to eventually establish ourselves as a mid table Prem Club like Fulham, which is all at this moment I think we can aim for short to mid term.

  • Can?t argue with that VR, anymore than I would argue with cornwall about enjoying good honest football. But I don?t think it means we have to stay in the championship tmp, we can enjoy it in the premiership as well, as we have during the first half of this season. The ideal scenario is that we find our form and surprise everyone including ourselves, and finish in 17th position , then prepare for next season utilising the premiership cash. But if we go down I see no reason why we can?t be strong contenders and return for another shot with more experience under our belt, and yes stronger . Mid table premiership is certainly preferable to mid table championship with nothing to hope for , but the way this club has evolved over the last few seasons makes me think that at last we?re in the transition phase between the two, eventually to graduate and stay. And I hope we manage that by continuing to play the free flowing entertaining football that got us here, rather than the humping football some teams employ to stay there at all cost.

  • I am not saying we should only have championship ambition, any team should always try for the top. The premier is the pinnacle but has many aspects of football I do not like. As a supporter I would prefer football to be played attractively, sadly this means you are going to lose some games. Look at Arsenal, they do not play spoiling, result at any cost, football, result, no cups but stacks of entertainment. Do we want to be dour and unattractive like Stoke or Blackburn, grinding out unenjoyable results and stuck perpetually in mid table albeit the premier? Or do we want to ride a switchback of watching attractive football even if it means a possible cycle of promotion/relegation. I know what I would prefer and I think a few others would as well.

  • I think I want something in between a sort of CoyleyLaws style, one that keeps us playing attractive football but also allows us to be more defence minded and tracking back more not ball watching backwards in midfield whilst the opposition pulls us apart on the break. On the other hand if playing a couple of seasons in the top flight means dire football,grinding out results but that leads to financial security and we can then afford to buy better quality,more entertaining players then maybe thats a price worth paying? Yo-yoing must get a bit boring eventually,maybe we need to ask the WBA fans? Id love to be a Fulham!!

  • Dire, makes it difficult to change systems and bring in players imo. Stoke for example will find it difficult to attract given that style of play, Rovers are the same, not name dropping but Benni McCarthy I know hated the style of football at Rovers under Big Sam, I heard him with my own ears. Money then becomes the big factor, you play dire and want to attract players it is sure as hell going to cost you and the round-about keeps going round……

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