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Adrian Heath had made two signings prior to leaving the Clarets for Everton, those of Marco Gentile and Mark Patterson, with others in the pipeline now presumably put on hold or cancelled by the club.

Without a single word, they’d seen Heath leave and now, again without comment, had cancelled the Patterson deal. It was left to the player himself to confirm the news that he would not become a Burnley player.

The one and only picture of Mark Patterson in a Burnley shirt

“I’m sick, fed up and totally devastated by Burnley’s decision,” Patterson said angrily. “They’ve knocked the transfer on the head following Adrian Heath’s decision to go to Everton. I was told yesterday, a couple of hours after his appointment at Goodison Park.

“Adrian Heath was fighting my corner for me and he was going to make me captain next season. He wanted to push the transfer deal through because he knew I’d get fully fit.”

As it happened, the transfer, which Heath had publicised, had never actually been completed although the then Burnley manager had agreed the deal with then Sheffield United manager Howard Kendall.

Patterson had undergone Achilles tendon surgery but added: “I’ve trained on it all summer and I’ve every confidence that everything would have been okay. I’ve always been a quick healer and I was very confident that my Achilles tendon would stand up to it, but Burnley have decided otherwise and now I will report back to training with Sheffield United next week.

“There is a possibility of me joining Blackpool. If that happens, I just want to come back to Turf Moor and show them what Burnley have missed by not signing me. I think Burnley have been over cautious because of what happened to Vince Overson last season.

“It is a funny business football. One minute I am captaining Sheffield United and the next moment I am on loan at Southend United. Then my move to Burnley collapses. It is all desperately disappointing because I was so looking forward to be playing at Burnley next season.”

As always, there was immediate speculation as to who might take over at Turf Moor. Former Stoke boss Lou Macari was very much an early candidate as was John Rudge, manager at Port Vale. Other names in the frame were Sam Allardyce, Joe Royle and former Clarets Stan Ternent, Brian Flynn and Trevor Steven. Only a year earlier, Heath had tried hard to bring Steven, who had no managerial experience, back to Turf Moor as a player.

Bob Blakeborough, the only Burnley director apparently available, said: “We will be looking to make an appointment in the very near future. The first team squad return for pre-season training in five days time and it is imperative that we try and make a rapid appointment. Obviously, we are very disappointed that Adrian has decided to leave us, but I understand his decision from a personal point of view because of his time at Everton as a player.”

Meanwhile, Bury boss Stan Ternent, one of the names linked, had hit out at the media. He’d only weeks before spoken about wanting to sign Peter Swan from Burnley but had hit now hit out at the media. “I can’t stop the media speculating, but don’t ask me to comment on the rumours,” he said, adding: “I have never conducted my business through the newspapers, television or radio and never will.” Having declared his interest in Swan via an exclusive interview with the Burnley Express, he now said: “People put two and two together because I took Peter to Hull City but the truth is I probably couldn’t afford him.”

He could, however, afford Mark Patterson. The midfielder remained at Sheffield United under new manager Nigel Spackman and was a regular in the side only to be sold to Ternent’s Bury for £125,000 in December, making his debut for the Shakers on Boxing Day at Tranmere. One year later, on the same date, he made his final Bury appearance before signing for Blackpool before ending the season at Southend where his league career ended at the conclusion of that 1998/99 season.

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