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View from the South Stand - Burnley 17/12/11

The great looking Eddie Howe brings his Burnley side south for their visit to The Amex. Coming off the back of two excellent comeback victories on the road at West Ham and Hull, the Clarets arrive in Sussex in fine form on their travels.

We spoke to www.clarets-mad.co.uk Editor Tony Scholes for the Burnley viewpoint ahead of our last game before Christmas

In the unlikely event that Brighton somehow end up winning promotion this season, a lot of fans have said they wouldn't want to go up as "it's too soon and we're not ready." What would you say to that having experienced Burnley's unlikely elevation to the Premier League?
I'm not sure how you can be ready to be honest with the gap between the two leagues being so huge. Had we waited until we were ready we'd still be waiting now and would probably never have got there. My answer is just to grab the opportunity when it comes around. It's not the wonderful world that many think it is but I wouldn't have missed it for the world. I'm old enough to remember our days in the top flight and to be able to go back and play league games against the top, top clubs in this country was something special. The result of our first home game in the Premier League was Burnley 1 Manchester United 0 with one of the best goals I've ever seen at Turf Moor. It was worth it just for that.

Owen Coyle was the man who lead you to the promised land but then left for Bolton. Do you think you would have stayed in the top flight had he have not gone and how is he viewed now by the Clarets faithful?
I
'm not so sure he would have kept us in but when he left I do believe our best chance had gone no matter who replaced him. We'd got off to a great start but we'd won none of his last nine league games in charge and won only five points from them. We were already on the slide. How is he viewed? I can only speak for myself but I think it is fair to say that most Burnley fans share the same view. I loathe the man. He lied to us. Just days before he went he told us that he would stay at Burnley just as long as he was wanted. He was already plotting his move, just as he'd been doing to try and get to Celtic in the previous May as we were winning the play offs. I refer to him now as the Lying Scotsman. If, for any reason, he ever returned to Burnley I would stay away.

Eddie Howe performed miracles at Bournemouth and turned down a number of other jobs including Palace (hehe) to take the Burnley job. How is he getting on?
I've found the football less than exciting at times but in fairness he's had a very difficult time with many of the squad he inherited having left the club. He's rebuilding and the squad is nowhere near complete and clearly lacking in some areas. Now is definitely not the time to judge him. I always feel a manger needs at least two years in a job so maybe you could ask me that question in a year's time. I have to say that we do have the ability to look a very good and entertaining team at times.

We've faced Charlie Austin three times in his Swindon days and he has scored against us in every game. How good has he been for Burnley and how far do you think he could go in football? 
I've been hugely impressed with Charlie Austin. I wasn't sure what to expect when we pushed the boat out to get him last January, Howe's first signing for Burnley. He then quickly suffered a shoulder injury that kept him out for the rest of the season. This season he's come into the team and certainly looked very comfortable at this level. He misses chances, but find a goalscorer who doesn't. He's always there for the next chance and is scoring them. Another recent shoulder injury has sidelined him but he came back via the bench last week. He's a very good player at this level I feel. Who knows whether he could do it at a higher level again. Every time he's stepped up he's had no problems.

Do you think that as a football club, you could ever have a sustained run in the top flight?
It would have been very difficult and had we been able to then it would have been a relegation fight season after season when eventually the lack of wins must take its toll. If you want to have a sustained run at that level then you need huge amounts of money and that has either to be generated or come out of a benefactor's pocket. We have neither. When we won promotion and the media were telling us it was a 60m windfall (including the parachute payments) it sounded so exciting. Soon after, Manchester United sold one player for 75m. That put it all into perspective.

You obviously know what it takes to get out of this division. What do you think a club aiming to win promotion needs to do?
It needs to be a decent side obviously but it really does need to have some good fortune as well. Take a look at our season. We were never the most secure team at the back and yet we somehow didn't concede one single goal in the last four home league games. Then, into the play offs and we kept three more clean sheets and scored three wonder goals which gave us two unbelievable days out at Reading and then Wembley. You need to keep in the running for the bulk of the season and then it seems it can be down to the team that has the best run in. Once in the play offs it is anyone's.

We're nearly halfway through the campaign. Which teams that you have seen this season do you think will be fighting at the top of the table come April?
I missed the West Ham game through illness but I'd be surprised if they are not there come the end of the season. I expect them to go on and win this league. Southampton looked good at Burnley on a day when we played exceptionally well. We were close to beating them.  I'd also add Leicester and I think their hopes have improved drastically with the sacking of the money grabbing Swede.

This is your first visit to Brighton since one of the most boring games in history in 2006 and the first to The Amex. What can we expect from the Burnley faithful and are you looking forward to the trip?
I'm very much looking forward to it. My last visit was to the Withdean for the boring 0-0 draw. You might know more about that game than I do even though I was there. I'd had a lot of sympathy for Brighton's plight with the loss of the Goldstone and then the problems in building a new stadium at Falmer. Sadly that sympathy came to an end that night when they charged us inflated prices to sit in an area from which watching the game was almost impossible. I vowed I'd never return to the Withdean and I wouldn't. Brighton will be only the second team I've seen us play on three different grounds, Bristol Rovers being the other. You can expect a small number (around 1,000) due to the number of tickets we received. We sold out a week ago and many Burnley fans have missed out.

Who should Brighton fans be looking out for among the Burnley side?
We can look a very good side going forwards and local boy Jay Rodriguez (yes, he really is from Burnley) could be the danger man. Jay is just 22 but is an outstanding prospect we just hope we can hang on to him in January.

Finally, a prediction for the game please?
I don't really do predictions but I've missed the last two away games and both have been won. I've been warned to stay away if I bring bad luck on my return this Saturday so I desperately need a win.

Many thanks to Tony for his insight into the forthcoming fixture. It is the season of goodwill, so why not send him a tweet at Clarets Mad on Twitter apologising for his Withdean experience and hopefully thanking Burnley for three points

 


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