Clarets can climb with Howe
Eddie Howe may be one of the younger faces in management but he has all the attributes to lead Burnley to success…
Barnsley ｜ Birmingham ｜ Blackburn ｜ Blackpool
Bolton ｜ Brighton ｜ Bristol City ｜ Burnley
Cardiff ｜ Charlton ｜ Crystal Palace ｜ Derby
Huddersfield ｜ Hull ｜ Ipswich ｜ Leeds
Leicester ｜ Middlesbrough ｜ Millwall ｜ Nott'm Forest
Peterborough ｜ Sheff Wed ｜ Watford ｜ Wolves
In charting the Clarets’ recent history January 5, 2010 is a significant date. It was then that boss Owen Coyle left Turf Moor with a view to taking charge at Premier League rivals Bolton. He duly did so three days later, taking his backroom staff with him. And with that move Burnley were left with an unexpected rebuilding task five months into their top-tier return.
As many predicted, Brian Laws could neither lead a survival bid nor a subsequent promotion tilt. So with the stop-gap gone it was left for Eddie Howe to orchestrate the redevelopment. The former Bournemouth chief, still only 34, has enjoyed a relatively prosperous 18 months in charge without ever setting the world alight. He guided the club to a comfortable 13th place last term but with striker Jay Rodriguez moving on Howe has work to do to build on that platform.
Howe has acquired enough experience and enjoyed enough success – most notably guiding Bournemouth to promotion from League Two – to render his age almost irrelevant. He may look nothing like the all-conquering managers of yore but the Clarets boss is a natural and accomplished leader. His lack of experience at Championship level showed only occasionally last term and indeed this may work in his favour, with the club’s board willing to invest time in a developing manager.
The departure of Rodriguez for a multi-million pound fee has given Howe an unexpected measure of wriggle room in the transfer market, allowing the club to pay fees for Mansfield’s promising young defender Luke O’Neill and new skipper Jason Shackell, who has arrived from Derby.
Clarets fans have had little trouble in keeping their feet on the ground this summer. While they see the potential in the current crop, particularly in the emerging strike force of Danny Ings and Charlie Austin, there is a feeling that the squad is still lacking depth. There are those who are eyeing a surprise play-off bid but another season of mid-table consolidation appears to be the dominant prediction. With the likes of Austin, Ings, winger Ross Wallace and long-serving Chris McCann on side, few are anticipating a struggle at the bottom. And currently out at 7/1 for the drop, the bookies would seem to agree.
Brian Laws was recruited in January 2010 as a short-term sticking plaster. In January 2011, Howe joined as a long-term answer. It remains to be seen whether the board retain their faith in the 34-year-old but for now he is primed to lead the Clarets into a new era. Although he will be competing with the newly-discovered financial might of Leicester, Nottingham Forest and Cardiff, as well as the ambitious promoted trio of Charlton, Sheffield, Wednesday and Huddersfield, Howe has had his teams punching above their weight before and can do so again. This is a season for measured progress and with a couple of late-summer acquisitions, the Lancashire outfit can secure a top-half spot.
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