Burnley FanZoner Wayne Blackledge looks at Eddie Howe's first year at the helm of the Clarets.
Howe still finding his feet
We've now had Eddie Howe in charge for a whole year, the way football management is these days he's already 50th in the list of longest serving managers which is a crazy statistic!
There was a fresh optimism evident when he arrived. Admittedly, Burnley would have struggled to not have that given the previous incumbent of the post but given Eddie's exploits at Bournemouth there was a keen interest to see if he would make the step up a level a successful one.
After 12 months, I would say he is being successful although he may initially have tried to change things too quickly. Eddie would probably admit he made mistakes in his first few months as well. The away form was immediately improved (and that has continued into this season) and there were a couple of decent runs of results which almost propelled the club into the play offs. Unfortunately it didn't quite happen but it had given Eddie a good few months to look at the club and work out where he needed to do some work.
His idea for the new season seemed to be a fair one. He wanted a younger, more streamlined squad and there weren't too many complaints about this from the stands. Some of the older players were shipped out and a couple of youngsters were signed. It was all looking good when a huge spanner appeared in his plan. The board had received offers for two of our better players which were accepted. This was swiftly followed by Jack Cork being lured to play for the new money at Southampton and then during the first month, Danny Fox was also transferred out to them.
Despite one or two more additions, that left us with a very young team to go into the season with. It was always going to be a challenge and the fans never knew which team was going to turn up. With confidence, the team looked as though they could compete with the best but once that was knocked, they were dire to watch and looked like they had never played together before. On top of this, clean sheets were proving impossible to come by.
There were a few groans from the stands during games but nothing too major and certainly no screams for Eddie to be relieved. Then came a game at Hull City which summed up the confidence factor for a young team and it may yet prove to be the turning point of Eddie's reign. Trailing two nil with about 15 minutes left, David Edgar pulled a goal back. According to a friend of mine we then went from playing like a pub team to Barcelona (an overstatement if you ever heard one but I saw his point) and scored 2 more to win the game out of nowhere.
Since then, things have been extremely good. A couple of unfortunate defeats to Leeds (where we lost both games to 2 late goals) and a poor game against Portsmouth aside, we have looked pretty good and the confidence seems to be growing. The more the players seem to play with each other the more they seem to gel.
Eddie seems to be trying to add a couple of loans to the squad and if we lose nobody then the second half of the season could be very interesting indeed for clarets' fans. This season is possibly too soon for us to be able to successfully reach the play-offs but if the progress of this last 12 months is continued the year after then the damage Brian Laws did may finally be reversed.