Date: 8th February 2007 at 12:44pm
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We talk to Vital Burnley Ed Phil Lea ahead of the Owls vital clash with the Clarets this Saturday – and find how they’re doing worse than us at the moment!


1. You’re on a similarly bad run to us – whats gone wrong?

There is no doubt our bad run started immediately we lost our top goal scorer, Andy Gray through injury. Andy made his return off the bench against QPR last Saturday but it will take some time before he reaches his peak match fitness again. The accusation is that we seem to be a one man team with Ade Akinbiyi last season and Gray this. The manager says this shouldn’t be criticised unduly and puts forward the interesting suggestion that Argentina would not have won the World Cup without Maradonna and Chelsea badly need John Terry. I reckon now though that since Ade is back that we will at least be a two-man team!!

The problem at the moment is our confidence is low because we have not won now in 11 matches and individual mistakes are being made no matter how good or bad the tactics might be.

2. Have you been up to much in the January transfer window?

Amazingly for us we have become a buying team in the January Window. In the past two seasons at this time we have been forced to sell our key players without replacement. Blake & Chaplow in 2005 and Akinbiyi( Mark 1) in 2006. A new Director, Brendan Flood joined the club Board last year and has pumped some badly needed funds into the Club.

We are in a rather unique position having a bigger squad size at the end of January compared to the start of it, although we are still one of the smallest in the league and will continue to punch above our weight. There is no doubt though that the club is now more ambitious taking more calculated risks which is to be applauded. They also stuck there heels in regarding Kyle Lafferty, our young Northern Ireland International striker fending off interest from Celtic.

The players that have come in are Ade Akinbiyi (Mark 2), Joey Gudjonsson and Steve Caldwell plus loans Mike Pollitt and Eric Djembe Djembe. Gifton Noel-Williams and Micah Hyde have left the club and Brian Jensen is on the transfer list.

3. What are your hopes for the rest of the season?

The play-offs are becoming a distant dream but that`s still not mathematically impossible. The league is full of average teams who can easily see themselves in the top 10 with back to back wins and a good run. My hope is we finish in the Top 10 and significantly higher than last season’s 17th. We have to show this improvement or they will be a clamour for Steve Cotterill to go. I am not one calling for his head at the moment like some that are panicking but will review situation in the Summer. He has been accused of poor tactics and playing dire football but I think he has had a difficult job with the limited resources and having to see our best players leave in January during 2005 and 2006.

4. We were linked with your manager before Laws – what was your reaction at the time and what is it now?

He seems to be linked with all or at least most Championship manager vacancies and some in the Premiership. He has a reputation of being ‘one of the best young managers outside the Premiership’ but of late I could find a few Clarets fans who would wish you had taken him off our hands ( I hasten to add I am not one of them-see above)

5. What did you think to bringing Akibiyi back to Turf Moor?

Personally, I am delighted but he was wasted at your enemy’s camp and the effects on his fitness and lack of match practice are still evident based on the handful of games he has played for us since returning. Ade though is a proven goal scorer at this level, appears to enjoy the spirit at Turf Moor and seems to have that added value in terms of raising morale and motivation in the dressing room. He has got his work cut out at the moment!

6. I’ve heard there was a bit of storm damage in the away end – will we be safe?!

See above intro-you will be safe if we are winning, but the Longside will start blowing in your direction if we get behind!

7. Which Burnley players should we look out for?

The new boys but also Andy Gray/Ade Akinbiyi if both play up front in 4-4-2. Gudjonsson has a reputation for spectacular goals from distance, which for a defensive midfielder is something we have lacked. We just need to see one now!

8. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

If you went to the QPR match away last Saturday and the last home match against Stoke it would be difficult to find any strengths. Confidence is low and individual mistakes are being made. The other weakness is match fitness, with all the new players lacking it plus Andy Gray and Steve Jones have only just returned from injury (Jones was dropped from Northern Ireland team versus Wales this week as well so might not feature due to injury)

Our strengths would have to based on the form that took us into the Top 6 for most of the first-half of the season with a solid back four and Andy Gray scoring for fun. I am confident we can return to that form with the added advantage of the new players contributing once they have got used to their new colleagues ( and vice versa) and have attained full match fitness. Just a question of when!

9. Whats your most memorable Clarets v Owls match?

Recently the matches we have played against each other have either been unmemorable and fairly dire draws or for the Clarets memorable for all the wrong reasons. Last season you beat us at the Turf more or less at the start of our bad run which was compounded by selling Ade. We can also remember that drubbing you handed out to us at the Turf that season you got 7 goals against us. Being an old git, I would have to say some of the best matches I remember were in the 60s/70s when both Clubs were in the top flight, a position both of us deserve to be in again with our history and loyal support.

10. What have you made of the Owls this season?

I think you have found it hard since your promotion a couple of seasons ago and have tended to struggle. Having said that when I have seen you play on the box, I think you have more quality that your position suggests. Some of the matches I have seen suggests you have not had much luck either. You deserve better and I wish you well-starting after Saturday of course!

11. Whats your score prediction?

We simply have to win this one and restore confidence but if the Owls were going to win this, you would not have a better chance in relation to our form. 2-1 Clarets if you push me!


Cheers Phil, and good luck for the rest of the season after Saturday of course!

You can check all the latest Clarets news pre-match at the Vital Burnley website by clicking HERE

NEXT UP – Luton Town…