It’s now clear that Burnley’s search for a new man is well underway, but this appointment is one that cannot ever be correct, writes Adam Haworth.
A few years back, we were all staring at our computer screens and televisions wondering who on earth our new manager was. He was some Scottish guy with a rising reputation in the game, looking to kick-start his career by moving to Burnley. Burnley fans and the English game as a whole will never forget that guy’s name, despite his apparent lack of experience and knowledge when he started the job. We couldn’t understand a word he said, we didn’t think so at the time, but it was OK, because it was a fresh opportunity and one that presented great promise. We began to play flowing football, creating triangles and squares all over the pitch. We had a storming cup run. We won promotion to the Premier League. It was an inspired appointment. But no one (or almost no one) would exactly describe themselves as delighted or satisfied with the appointment of Mr Coyle when he first joined the club. No one knew what a good appointment he would be.
Fast forward to present day and we have a different dynamic between the club and its fans. Expectations are higher after a short spell in the Premier League, yet our stock has actually fallen as a club. We’ve had one very unpopular manager and one average one since Coyle left for Bolton and there’s an awful lot of pressure to get the appointment right this time round. As a result of that pressure, us fans are brandishing our opinion on every rumour around, stating whether we would be “happy” with said rumoured candidate. Some fans are even acting on their opinions and declaring they’d stop going to Turf Moor if we appoint a lower league manager, such as Michael Appleton. The truth is that we cannot satisfy everyone with this managerial decision. So many people have a different take on where the club should be heading it’s impossible to do so.
But what do the board do? With ticket prices raised and money tighter than ever, fans are only looking for a small excuse to not head to the beloved Turf anymore. The club’s appointment not only decides where the club is heading football wise, but also decides whether fans keep going to Turf Moor to watch that football. It’s about balance – is the need to inspire fans and the town again greater than the need to keep the club philosophy, invest in youth (in terms of both players and management) the same.
The aforementioned change of attitude around Turf Moor in the last few seasons means that when a bad spell comes upon us, as fans we lose confidence. We’re just setting ourselves up for a fall if we don’t. An inspiring or experienced manager would enlighten the fans, give them confidence, which leads to an improved atmosphere and thus idyllic playing conditions when at home. But the other route – taking a young manager and letting him settle in and grow as a club-man and eventually reach success – may even see bigger or better rewards, via longevity than the previous route. But it’s more of a risk: it’s about the dynamic between the fans and the manager and whether the two take to each other.
Ultimately, the decision comes down to the interview process, but it’s interesting to look at whether the board should play it safe, or whether they stick to their guns. It’s the satisfaction dilemma.
What do you think is the right way to go? Comment below.