27 October ~ In what passes for our big derby this season, Burnley face off against Blackpool live on Sky this Saturday. Cue liberal use of "Lancashire hotpot", footage of cobbled streets and the standard black and white montage of Stanley Matthews and Jimmy McIlroy. The modern reality is of two clubs who sailed too close to the sun. Blackpool are where we were 12 months ago – newly relegated, fans readjusting to their surroundings after having their expectations heightened to unrealistic levels by a miracle promotion.
Both had their 15 minutes of fame – we beat United, they beat Liverpool – and took their turn being patronised by the media. The compliments were lovely but the game moves on. Norwich and Paul Lambert are this season's Blackpool and Ian Holloway or Burnley and Owen Coyle.
Blackpool retained the architect of their promotion whereas Burnley lost theirs when Coyle cowardly skulked away – all Burnley fans are laughing their arses off at his misfortune right now – and that might be the difference come Saturday. Burnley reacted terribly when Coyle left and the impact of the disastrous appointment of Brian Laws is being felt fully now with his appalling signings on their high wages blocking up our subs bench or out on loan. We're having to "cut our cloth", as we're constantly being told by our chairman, which has left us with a squad lacking in numbers, leadership and experience - the average age of our 16 last Saturday being just 23.
Our best chance lies with our two strikers on Saturday. Charlie Austin and Jay Rodriguez are both 22 and have eight goals each. Rodriguez gets the plaudits, Under-21 caps and a £5 million bid from Southampton was rejected in August, but to my mind Austin is the better player. He was a brickie playing in the ninth tier three years ago but is a born goalscorer with that unteachable ability to be at the right place at the right time.
Blackpool's best chance is probably our defence. One clean sheet in 30 games tells its own tale. Our defence has two loanees in it and all four of them have played fewer than 100 games. We have one outstanding centre-half, Andre Bikey-Amougou, but sadly he is forever injured – between the ears. Immaculate against Manchester United, appalling against Coventry, pretty much sums him up. Despite all his ability he can't be trusted any longer and will likely be away in January – probably with Rodriguez and/or Austin.
The last time we played Blackpool was in our promotion season. We beat them 2-0 at home and 1-0 away, with them being lucky to score 0 in the home game such was the gulf in class. We are two very different sides now though and I'd take a draw on Saturday even though we're at home. My pick is 2-2, our scorers being Rodriguez and Austin, of course. Kevin Clarke