3 January ~ On December 30, 2010 the belated Christmas present the majority of Burnley fans had been hoping for arrived with the dismissal of manager Brian Laws. He was in charge for 44 league games, winning just 11. In the last few months prior to his departure his team threw away a two-goal lead three times as well as going behind in six successive home games. Laws spoke of bad luck and claimed that we were just on the verge of a good run – but the reality seen by the fans was entirely different.
This was a team who had beaten Manchester United in the Premier League, given Arsenal all they could handle twice and reached the semi-final of the Carling Cup in the year preceding Laws's arrival. His spell in charge came to an end with our being spanked 2-0 at home to Scunthorpe, a game we should have lost by four or five.
It's never nice when fans irreversibly turn against a manager. But in Laws's case, it had been a bewildering appointment as he had a track record of mediocrity and had just been dismissed by a team in the division below us. If he had not played for Burnley for two years 25 years ago he would have been nowhere near the job, but chairman Barry Kilby made a snap decision at a time when he felt understandably betrayed by the shameful actions of Laws's predecessor Owen Coyle.
Credit to the board for acting against their usual caution (three managers in 11 years prior to the appointment of Laws) and rectifying their mistake quickly. Burnley would be a very good job for somebody. This is an underperforming team with a very strong squad, money to spend in January and a crowd willing to back the new man and wanting to be entertained. We are just outside the play-off places and even QPR and Cardiff are still in touching distance.
Finally a word about the laughable Richard Bevan, chief executive of the League Managers’ Association. He claimed that the LMA were bemused by the sacking of Laws, pointing out that Burnley had the third best home record in the division, had only lost six games and had not lost back-to-back games all season. In marginal defence of the myopic Mr Bevan, all of these things are true – and a perfect example of selective fact usage.
What he did not mention is that we had the largest wage bill in the division, had not won back-to-back games in the whole of Laws's tenure, had only won eight games all season and had the worst away record in the whole of the League. Plus Leon Cort, the 31-year-old centre-back we bought for £2 million on a three-and-a-half-year deal, was now on loan at Preston as he had been such a shambles. I tried to find his or any comments from the LMA about the disgraceful way Owen Coyle treated Burnley when he walked out on the club, but funnily enough I couldn't find their thoughts on that. Strange isn't it? Kevin Clarke