Writer: Barry Worthington
Date:Friday March 19 2010
In the build up to the monster game between Wigan Athletic and Burnley at the DW Stadium on Saturday Vital Latics met up with Vital Burnley for a chat, a brew and a few hobnobs, from the Latics the usual suspect worbo was first at the biscuits whilst Turfman Phil was the Burnley representative, lest see how it all went:
worbo - Howdy Phil, I hope all is well, it feels like a long, long time back when we met at Turf Moor, there as been plenty water under the bridge since then.
Turfman Phil - You were the first team to beat us at the alas no more 'Fortress Turf Moor' back in October although we seemed to have recovered from that in the run-up to Christmas with no more home defeats.
The Coyle saga had it's effects (see below) and our home form has plummeted since then and we have still yet to win away this season. We are in a relegation battle make no mistake but if we can string one or two wins together starting on Saturday and in the biggy for us against Blackburn Rovers at Turf Moor a week later we are back in the running to avoid the drop. Even if we don't we wont give up until it's mathematically impossible to survive.
worbo - Sorry Phil but I have to ask, Owen Coyle? Were you gutted when he did one for Bolton and how do you feel about Brian Laws? I see there was a story in the Sun this week about Laws being replaced as your manager.
Turfman Phil - I would say shocked and disgusted more than gutted and in most Clarets fans eyes he went from 'hero' to 'zero' overnight. Some will never forgive what he did to this club at such a crucial time after all his sentimental codswallop about loving this club and having a job to do at Turf Moor. If you actually analyse his results though and take away the hype maybe we were all a little deluded. We had been unable to win away under him all season with just one point on the road and we had been steadily dropping down the table.
We had not won one of our last nine games under Coyle. It is now thought Coyle simply did not want to have the word 'relegation' on his CV and thought he better do his regular 2 year jumping ship thing and try his arm by moving sideways to Bolton.
Brian Laws had very little time to sort things out. We were in the middle of a transfer window and all our backroom staff had jumped ship and followed Judas to the Reebok. Results have not gone his way with only one win in 10 league games and some fans are getting restless. I think his main problem could be the image of him being a failed manager at Championship level with no Premier League experience.
Clarets fans were less than excited about the appointment but were willing to give Brian a chance although there have been some signs of booing recently which I think is totally counter-productive. We have a relegation battle to win and we all need to get behind the manager and players despite a few of us having doubts about the appointment. The article in the Sun has been totally discredited as 'hogwash' and indeed the online link was removed following a club statement.
worbo - Well you`ve had nearly a full season in the Premier League, is it what you thought it would be, exciting or disappointing? I know when we first got promoted I was a little bit star struck, but we did rise pretty quick through the divisions, but even so to have world class players every week coming to play us I thought was fantastic and you know what, I still do, it is the place to be.
Turfman Phil - There have certainly been some highs this season like beating Manchester United in our first home game in the top flight for 33 years. It has been an adventure and I think most fans would rather we stay up despite all the faults of the Premier League (eg difficulty and hassle getting tickets, the whole money-debt thing, the inevitable tonkings, the TV rights and messing about with scheduled fixtures). Some are mentally preparing themselves for the drop and trying to convince themselves life is not too bad in the Championship but I don't share them. I love the prestige of being in the top flight and the benefits it brings the town plus the fact we are always mentioned in the media now and have the joy of watching us get stuffed every week on MOTD with Alan Hansen reminding us what a great defence we have! (Yeah OK scratch that last joy!)
worbo - Relegation is a big threat for us both Phil, we`ve got both Pompey and Hull to come to Wigan and we travel to West Ham, 7 points from them and I`d guarantee safety, but we will probably be scratching to get 5 points and it will be quite hairy, but exciting, I think 36 points will keep you up this season and I believe we will do it, whats your thoughts on this and how do you see your run in going?
Turfman Phil - Well before we played Pompey, Stoke and Wolves at home recently and only got one point from nine I had earmarked those with Rovers as the games we needed to win to get on 32 points with a reasonable chance of safety. I still think we have to find four wins now from somewhere and it's not impossible. Our games left are Wigan away obviously then Blackburn H, Man City H, Hull A, Sunderland A, Liverpool H, Birmingham A and Spurs H. Two things need to happen, the same team play with the same confidence they had in the earlier part of the season ie 'Fortress Turf Moor' is rebuilt and we can actually start to pick up some points on the road! Simples!!
worbo - Looks like Charles N`Zogbia is struggling for us and that will be a massive loss, he`s been awesome this season, if Charlie is out then Victor Moses will probably come in to replace him and he can be a threat but for me Hugo Rodallega will carry our goalscoring threat so be warned, who in the Burnley team are you pinning your hopes on as a match winner on Saturday Phil?
Turfman Phil - It looks like Steven Fletcher our leading goal-scorer could be ready to return on Saturday after missing the last three with a broken hand. He will be our main threat. Martin Paterson is now back in the team after a long injury and has looked impressive as well as getting on the score-sheet. Laws could be tempted to play both those two and also put Nugent up front. One of the three would then play a wider role. Nugent too has been scoring some good goals of late.
worbo - If I have to pick a bottom three it would be Pompey, Hull and I am sorry to say this Burnley, I think you have a tough final few games and in Brian Laws I don`t think you have a manager up to the task, who do you see as the three to fall?
Turfman Phil - Pompey, Hull and Wolves I hope for the drop although I would of course be delighted if Bolton went on a terrible run and Coyle had relegation on his CV after all!!
worbo - Right Phil its prediction time, it will be a very nervy game and I can see the first goal scored being extremely important, I am going for a 1-0 home win with Hugo Rodallega snatching a late winner for us, how do you see it?
Turfman Phil - Every time this season I have predicted we might get something from one of the away games. Surely we have to win one away this season? Wigan 0-1 Burnley. I was on a complete downer after the Wolves defeat and had you down in our prediction league as 4-0 winners but I just have a sneaky feeling now!!
worbo - We will see Phil, we will see, well its been good to talk and you sure do like the hobnobs!!! Good luck for your remaining games after Saturday and I agree it would be wonderful if Bolton went down.
My interview over on Vital Burnley
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Date:Friday March 19 2010
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