A welcome to Warnock’s Millers
After picking up another point on the road last week at Reading, Burnley return home tomorrow for the first of a Turf Moor double header with the visit of Rotherham United.
The two sides find themselves at opposite ends of the table just now with the Clarets in fourth place and Rotherham in the bottom three and currently some five points from safety.
We’ve dropped a place since last Saturday. Brighton went above us on Tuesday night after picking up a point from a 0-0 draw at Hull. As much as we don’t want to be dropping places, I don’t think too many Burnley fans would have been unhappy with that result, meaning Hull’s lead over us is just four points.
It’s been a week where we’ve had more of a mention in the media. Ian Holloway, who jumps from one side of the fence to the other so often that he should be considered for the hurdles at the next Olympics, is this week tipping us to go up. Only a couple of weeks ago he didn’t really have us in the reckoning.
But no matter which way you look at it, we have won five and drawn three of the last eight league games since that horrible Boxing Day defeat at Hull. It’s been a good run when, perhaps, some thought we were slipping, and has certainly restored any lost confidence within the squad.
George Boyd, who had a good game at Reading last week, admitted as much. “We’re loving it,” he said. “We’re full of confidence at the moment as we’re on a good run of form, but Rotherham will provide a stiff test. They’ve got a new manager so they’ll be up for it, but if we can withhold them for the first twenty minutes when they get in our faces, hopefully our quality will shine through.
“It’s massive and I think the momentum has come at the right time. We’ve come through a sticky spell where the games have been hard with flying colours. We’re thoroughly enjoying it at the minute and I think you can see that in our football.”
Boyd will face more competition for his place soon with the signing of Lloyd Dyer, a player who left Watford at the end of last month. He said of that: “I think it’s fantastic to have even more strength in depth and competition for places. It’s good for the gaffer and keeps everyone on their toes because if you’re not performing someone else will come in.”
Sean Dyche has already confirmed that Dyer will not be involved tomorrow. He’s giving him time to get up to the fitness levels required and to integrate with the squad having signed just four days ago.
I can confirm that Joey Barton is here though, and available. It’s been good fun this week reading all about him apparently set to sign for Leeds last summer along with Jason Shackell (and that suggests they must be paying sky high wages).
It was Neil Redfearn the former manager who said it but Barton has been somewhat baffled by it and clearly said he wouldn’t have been going there given the current state of that club.
Boyd and Barton are expected to line up in an unchanged Burnley team and with both Michael Duff and Dean Marney still struggling for fitness, it is likely to be the same substitutes as were on duty at Reading.
Our expected team is: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, George Boyd, Joey Barton, David Jones, Scott Arfield, Sam Vokes, Andre Gray. Subs: Paul Robinson, Tendayi Darikwa, James Tarkowski, Fredrik Ulvestad, Matt Taylor, Michael Kightly, Rouwen Hennings.
Our visitors Rotherham are in their second season in the Championship after winning promotion via the play offs in 2014 under the management of Steve Evans, the only manager who allows Steve Bruce to feel slim.
They stayed up last season and had a party to celebrate with champagne in the directors box but Evans was dismissed just before our visit to the New York Stadium at the beginning of October. The chairman said the pair wanted to go in different directions but , strangely, they’d just won their two previous games at home to Cardiff and at Birmingham to lift themselves out of the relegation zone.
Eric Black took temporary charge until the aforementioned Neil Redfearn landed the job but too has since been dismissed bringing the appointment of Neil Warnock who seems to be collecting as many clubs as he can.
There’s no doubt that Warnock will bring some experience. He’s been joined by Kevin Blackwell on the coaching side and he’s already made three signings although a couple of them were already training with the Millers.
Jerome Thomas, who played for Warnock at Crystal Palace, signed and he’s been followed by former Watford defender Lloyd Doyley and goalkeeper Paddy Kenny who has played for Warnock at so many clubs I’ve lost count.
Having drawn at home to Birmingham last week, they are third from bottom. They have a one point advantage over Charlton and are a further point ahead of bottom club Bolton, but significantly they sit five points behind the next clubs Bristol City and MK.
It’s difficult to determine what the team will be. Warnock has been working with them all week and was always likely to make changes although that has been forced on him with both Joe Mattock and Richard Wood sitting out the game having been sent off last week. Will he play any of his new signings? The only player he seems to have ruled out is Lee Frecklington who has suffered a groin injury in training.
The team they fielded last week against Birmingham was: Lee Camp, Joe Mattock, Kirk Broadfoot, Richard Wood, Danny Ward, Paul Green, Chris Burke, Frazer Richardson, Joe Newell, Matt Derbyshire, Richard Smallwood. Subs: Alex Cairns, Lewis Buxton, Danny Collins, Jerry Yates, Grant Ward, Greg Halford, Jonson Clarke-Harris.
LAST TIME THEY WERE HERE
It’s eleven years since Rotherham and Burnley were in the same division and it is just three weeks short of eleven years since they last played at Turf Moor. It was Steve Cotterill’s first season in charge of the Clarets and in the opposite dug out was Alan Knill who was just two months into the job after replacing Ronnie Moore and he was still waiting for his first win as boss.
We’d slipped a little in the table. After beating Stoke 1-0 at the Britannia in the first game of the calendar year, we’d won just one of nine league games and kicked off in 14th place.
New signing Ade Akinbiyi was serving the second of a three match ban after his dramatic debut against Sunderland but Cotterill gave a debut to new loan signing Dean Bowditch; he was one of three loan players in the side alongside Gary Cahill and Pete Whittingham.
It all started in Rotherham’s favour and they were in front after just four minutes when Phil Gilchrist headed home unchallenged , but not only were Burnley back in it very quickly but we were in front with just fourteen minutes gone.
We were level on 11 minutes. Mo Camara got in a superb cross that Bowditch got a touch on. It dropped for John Oster, undoubtedly the game’s best player, but he’d still a lot to do. He cut in and just when we all expected a shot, he played it across for Tony Grant who hammered home.
A Grant goal was always a rarity but what proved to be the winner three minutes later was even rarer, a first and only goal for Burnley from skipper Frank Sinclair. Playing at right back, he got down the flank and won us a corner and he then met Oster’s corner to head in off the post.
A third goal might have come but by half time we were thankful to goalkeeper Brian Jensen for keeping us level after a mistake from John McGreal, and that was something as rare as a Grant or Sinclair goal.
Burnley came out unchanged for the second half and Rotherham made one change, bringing on Michael Keane, and very definitely not the Michael Keane who will be in our side tomorrow, he was only 12 at the time.
There was also a change amongst the officials. Referee Paul Robinson from Hull went off injured to be replaced by fourth official Neil Yates from Rishton. Many people on the message board will remember him as the regular poster fox40, the brother of tybfc.
He didn’t do us any favours and I don’t think he got anything too wrong against us either, and, despite a poor second half showing, we managed to get to the final whistle with our 2-1 lead intact and that had taken us to 49 points with ten games remaining.
The teams were;
Burnley: Brian Jensen, Frank Sinclair, Gary Cahill, John McGreal, Mo Camara, John Oster, Micah Hyde, Tony Grant, Pete Whittingham (Graham Branch 70), Dean Bowditch (Michael Duff 84), Jean-Louis Valois (Ian Moore 79). Subs not used: Danny Coyne, Lee Roche.
Rotherham: Mike Pollitt, Paul Hurst, Phil Gilchrist, Rob Scott, Paolo Vernazza, Paul McLaren, Shaun Barker, Jamal Campbell-Ryce, Leandre Griffit (Michael Keane ht), Paul Warne, Will Hoskins (John Mullin 69). Subs not used: Gary Montgomery, Scott Minto, Marc Newsham.Follow UpTheClarets:
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