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.