Hallelujah and Praise the Lord


There were ten transfer targets sitting on the wall, ten transfer targets sitting on the wall… and if one transfer target should accidentally fail… there’ll be nine transfer targets sitting on the wall…

The info that Dale Stephens was on his way turned out to be duff; on Monday night he was allegedly on the M6 travelling north for a medical the next day. “It will be us supporters that need a medical before long at this rate,” fans tweeted.

Being Chris Boden at the Burnley Express or Suzanne Geldard at the Telegraph must be hard work. Just what do they write about when there is no news? It’s a testament to their ability to tell the same tale a different way each week, that somehow they cobble together a story. The new one was that the news that Sean D didn’t want to put the club’s future at risk by over-stretching the budget. He didn’t want to leave the club in a state of rack and ruin. He didn’t want to just throw all the money on the pitch and if it didn’t work, sail off into the night leaving a mess behind him. Oh to be Phil Hay at the Leeds based Yorkshire Evening Post with a never ending reservoir of tales to tell about the latest Leeds mishaps and Cellino.

Hats off to the reporter at the Derby Bugle or whatever it’s called; this guy made a scoop out of nothing when he reported in his weekly feature that there had been no further developments in the Kendrick to Burnley saga.

I went to the wedding of an African friend last week in Leeds and what a wonderful afternoon it was. Colour, costumes, dancing, music, and a Bishop in resplendent crimson robes with a wry sense of humour that he badly needed seeing as the bride was 2 hours late. It was an afternoon of non-stop “Hallelujah” and “Praise the Lord” and “Amens” every 30 seconds. It was infectiously smiley and exuberant. The two-hour wait just flew by especially with all the music.

It left me wanting to write we’ve signed somebody praise the Lord… we’ve signed somebody Hallelujah… we’ve signed somebody Amen… sadly no… all I can write is Dear Lord please can we sign anybody, even Lansbury.

The Sun distinguished itself yet again when it headlined an article with Dyche Fury. At the press day of a few days earlier he had discussed with journalists from several of the dailies his view on how unfortunate it is that English managers and coaches get no credit for doing just the same work as foreign coaches – and the foreign coaches are seen as geniuses. Be it diet, training routines, or formations, foreign coaches are seen as ground breakers, but in truth there is little that is new in football and they are merely doing what has been done by English coaches, including himself, more often than not. Sean D claimed that he had been using methods used by Klopp and Guardiola for years. Conte, he said, was doing 800m, 400m, and 200m runs and is commended; Dyche does it at Burnley and he is labelled a dinosaur.

Everything he said was measured and considered. It was all prefaced with how much he respects the work of ALL managers. There was not one ounce of disrespect or annoyance; everything was perfectly reasonable. Where the ‘fury’ came from is anyone’s guess. There wasn’t one shred of it. This was journalism at its worst; you could only wonder if this particular Sun writer was even there.

Accrington: the draw for the League Cup produced a wonderful tie, Accrington versus Burnley, you couldn’t help but smile. “A carnival and family affair,” said Stanley owner Andy Holt. They were so close to promotion last season, 2015/16 but didn’t quite make it as we willed them to do it. How can you not feel affectionate towards them, whilst we feel intense scorn of all things Blackburn? Ex-Burnley players, Steven Hewitt, Chris Eagles and Shay McCartan were now Stanley players.

There was that old 1980s Milk Board TV advert where two little lads in Liverpool shirts, scousers, proper scallywags, were in the kitchen. One of them is asking is there any lemonade, the other takes a pint of milk and swigs a few gulps down.

“Milk ugh,” says the one drinking the lemonade.

“Yeh,” says the one slurping the milk. “It’s what Ian Rush drinks and ‘e sez if I drink lots er milk I’ll be good enough to play fer Achhrington Stanley.”

Accrington Stanley resigned from the Football league way back in 1962 with old Bob Lord somehow involved in their demise. The new one dates to 1968 and slowly clawed its way back to the Football League. Lord Bob’s role in their demise was never totally clear and amongst the oldest supporters who remember those dark days, their opinions of him are edged with bitterness. Lord told the press he was ‘helping’ and there was talk of him buying shares. That never happened and at the final creditors meeting it was Lord that recommended that the club should resign from the league. His bitterest enemies have always supposed that it was his intention all along to see the club go out of business and thus ‘see off’ a nearby rival freeing up their supporters to come to Burnley. The national press showed little sympathy for Accrington’s plight, their unpaid electric and gas bills and the total debt of £62,000.

The 1980s Milk Board advert and the two little red-shirted scousers was a nice reminder to the nation that the football club was still twitching.

There were 9 transfer targets sitting on the wall… nine transfer targets sitting on the wall… and if one transfer target should unfortunately fail… there were 8 transfer targets sitting on the wall… The Hendricks saga seemed well and truly over.

There were 8 transfer targets sitting on the wall… 8 transfer targets sitting on the wall… and if one transfer target should unfortunately fail… there’ll be 7 transfer targets sitting on the wall… Pacey winger Yeni Ngbakoto went to QPR. People were asking what would happen first a Burnley signing or triggering Article 50?

And then the news that stunned us all especially after the latest information that Belgian international Steven Defour preferred the riches of Qatar to the murk and drizzle of Burnley; he WOULD be coming to Burnley after all. This too was a deal that seemed doomed to end in failure but apparently he and Sean D had talked face to face in Belgium a few days earlier. ‘My Belgian contacts say he is on his way,’ tweeted Chris Boden. The official Anderlecht twitter account was wishing him luck. Four years, said those in the know.

Swansea: the opening game, a spring in our steps after the Defour news, Theresa May was on a walking holiday in Switzerland, Putin and Erdogan were cosying up (worrying), swimmers were turning green in the Olympic pools, GB had 7 golds so far, one of them went to Colne’s Steven Burke in the cycling on a fabulous night, bookies made Burnley the favourites to sign Patrick Bamford, and the name Ashley Westwood had cropped up again.

An attendance of just under 20,000, expectation and hope, immaculate stadium, the portakabins had gone, but deja-vu, the final score was exactly the same as 2 years ago when Swansea were the visitors, a 1-0 defeat. And once again we left wondering just how we lost that game. It could be the first of many occasions when we think that.

It goes without saying that every Burnley player put a shift in, gave their all, did the best they could and made themselves damned hard to beat. There were several periods in the second half when Swansea were on the back foot. But this the Premier League now, and what worked a season ago, they learned, would not work at this new level, as good shots were saved by Fabianski and the officials missed a clear penalty. In a game they might have won 1-0 in the Championship, at this new level it was the reverse.

Burnley upped their game in the second half and the game became watchable and engrossing as each side showed more verve and commitment. Fabianski kept Swansea in the game, but Burnley’s limitations remained what we have always known them to be and Leighton James summed them up after the game.   No imagination, he said, and lacking a game changer, like Swansea’s Montero who from the minute he came on ran Lowton ragged, ran with pace and flair, and sent the cross over that led to the goal. Burney simply did not have anyone who could do this. It was hard to think of a single cross at pace that came over from Boyd or Arfield; two players who inevitably when they have the ball wide, turn back and lay the ball off.

The first half was one to forget, low key, timid, quiet, was this really the Premier League we were watching; Swansea marginally the better side in terms of neatness, approach and passing, Burnley with the same side that won the championship, but minus Barton. New man Gudmundsson was on the bench and remained there until 15 minutes from the end. Did he bring anything different? No he is simply another version of Arfield, a willing worker. Kightly, the one player that does possess pace and does attempt to take a man on, remained on the bench. On came the Jut for a cameo five minutes, the lad with pace, Long, now farmed out to Fleetwood.

The big talking point was the shirt pull on Keane. How could the linesman with an uninterrupted view not see it? Or did he simply ignore it. Anywhere else on the pitch and that would have been a free kick. This goes on game after game, as does the wrestling, pushing and shoving at corners. We are all sick of it; the hierarchy do nothing to solve it. Dyche fumed and rightly so; Swansea were well versed in the subtle arts and crafts of Premier football, the diving, the shirt pulling, and the theatricals. Burnley were not. They are brought up differently. You could argue it cost Burnley the game.

If the shirt pull on Keane was a game changer, then the ‘dive’ by Fabianski right below us when he and Arfield went for a 50:50 ball well outside the penalty area almost by the touchline was a disgrace. It was close enough for us in our seats to see it perfectly. Arfield actually held back, there was minimal contact, but down went Fabianski like a sack of spuds, rolling, clutching, rolling a bit more, play-acting, then a bit of writhing for good measure, face etched with ‘pain’ and then finally inert on the floor curled up holding his legs. Poor Arfield looked bewildered. The referee clearly decided this was play-acting, ignored the whole thing and gave a throw-in. Why was Fabianski not booked; it was deplorable, the more so when he sprang up and ran back to his area like a spring chicken. The blessed Harry Potts, Corinthian to the core, scourge of all cheats, never afraid to dash onto the pitch or throw a cushion at a referee, would have been out of his seat in a trice, and dragged Fabianski back on his feet by the armpits.

MOTD confirmed what we all knew, that it was a blatant penalty plus the need to spend more money if Burnley are not to end up bottom of the heap. If memory serves there was talk in the summer of a £60million fund but perhaps they need to add to that the £30million left over from the previous season. And from that there has to come an injection of real pace and width.

And the Swansea goal: there was a sort of grim inevitability that they would pinch a goal; they had the nous and that electric burst of pace from Montero. Heaton made the save from the header but alas palmed the ball to the lurking Fer who scored. You could argue he should not have been on the field if the ref and linesman had spotted his shirt pull on Keane. But, alas, this is football and we went home thinking just how did we lose that one, just as we did so often two years ago in the Prem season of Ings and Trippier.

“You get your pocket picked,” said Sean D post-match. “That’s the harsh reality of the Premier League.”

Brave displays and gallant efforts; defiant losers yet again, Keane and Mee coped well, Marney buzzed, Gray was a real handful. But Groundhog Day was here again.

But not all was gloom, they did themselves proud in the second half, we couldn’t have asked for more. Then there was more gold for Great Britain, tons of it, Nigel Farage sporting a ‘tache now looking like a dodgy second hand car salesman, Blackburn were trounced again and by Sunday teatime after the next games, Burnley had moved up a place and were third from bottom.

Reasons to be cheerful then: Hallelujah, Praise the Lord and Amen; there, I managed to get them in after all.




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