Training starts but Harrison gone
The long saga was over. Having looked set to join Luton, and maybe either Ipswich or Port Vale, Gerry Harrison had finally turned down Burnley’s offer and signed for Sunderland.
Manager Stan Ternent expressed his disappointment. “He’s the sort of player I would have loved to keep at the club,” he said, adding: “But Sunderland is a great opportunity for him and I wish him every success for the future.”
Harrison’s new boss Peter Reid was definitely happier than Stan and he said: “Gerry is a player who can occupy a lot of positions and it’s important to have players like that at the club. I know Burnley boss Stan Ternent wanted him to sign a new contract, but we managed to persuade him to join us. I’m pleased because he’s a lad with lots of potential.”
Harrison himself admitted that the other clubs he’d spoken to couldn’t compete with Sunderland and said: “I see this as the best chance of my life.”
Ternent was keen to ensure there would be no repetition of this under his watch. He’d already signed both Andy Cooke and Glen Little on longer deals and was hoping to do the same with both Chris Brass and Paul Smith while retaining a hope that he could keep Paul Weller. Weller was still a target for West Ham and now West Brom were waiting in the wings, but Ternent had held further talks and made it clear he wanted to keep the player.
Brass and Smith, like Cooke and Little before them, were still under contract; Ternent wanted to ensure they were part of Burnley’s future and was involved in lengthy talks with both of them.
“We have got to do everything we can to make sure that we don’t end up in a Gerry Harrison situation again. Anything else would be mismanagement,” Ternent said, and added: “I want people around me who want to play for Burnley. I’m offering good deals and I want the players to sign them. If they don’t want to sign them, I’m happy to try and move them on because they’re all valuable players. I’m not offering thousands of pounds a week for finishing fifth bottom of the Second Division, but if the players produce on the field and we get up there, I’ll have a few quid to play with.”
Ternent had lost goalkeeper and coach Chris Woods, Jamie Hoyland and Damian Matthew. He spoke on all three. He reported that Woods’ departure was an amicable one and said that Hoyland had left because he couldn’t manage on the money offered to him. He said he was disappointed that Matthew had claimed that the team spirit at Northampton was better than at Burnley. Ternent said: “The only reasons he went to Northampton were the money and the fact it is nearer London. He claimed the team spirit was right after being at the club half a day, whereas he had been here for a couple of seasons and was part of the team spirit at Burnley.”
With all the potential outgoings, new players were required and Ternent looked to be on the verge of making his first signing as Burnley manager. Defender Steve Morgan had been training with the Clarets and the manager said of the former Blackpool, Plymouth, Coventry and Wigan defender: “I had him on loan at Bury last year. If he does enough in pre-season I will be looking to sign him on.”
There was a surprise face at pre-season training when it got underway, that of Vince Overson who had been released at the end of the previous season. Overson at 36, had suffered a torrid time at Burnley with injuries since returning two years earlier.
Stan explained: “I have given Vince the chance to prove he is worth another contract. He’s Burnley through and through and the sort of player you want in the place. He’s going to train with us for a month and we’ll take it from there. He’s not had the best of luck with injuries since he came back to Burnley, but I’m happy to give him the chance to prove what he’s worth and then, maybe, I’ll be able to sort something out for him.”
With the first few days of pre-season under the belt, Stan took time out to speak with Edward Lee at the Burnley Express and outlined his plans to get Burnley at the top end of the league in the coming season.
In that interview, he said: “We’ve got some good players at the club, although there are some areas that may need strengthening. I want to give them all the chance to show what they’ve got, but I’m not prepared to play catch-up after the first month so things may have to change. I won’t be out there clearing any off the line or heading any in, but I can choose who sits in the stand and who moves along.”
He was reasonably pleased with how training had gone. “Training is going all right and the players are doing quite well,” he said after the first two or three days back at Gawthorpe. “It is five weeks of a job and by the end of that we’ll be fine. I just want to get through training and the pre-season games without picking up any injuries. We have five weeks to get through and the main focus of it all will be the first game. Everything has to centre on the match against Bristol Rovers.
“The priority has got to be the first team and those are the results by which everyone will be judged. If I need new players I hope to be able to go out and get them, otherwise I will have to use the loans available to me. But the basis of the squad is already here, getting a good start is what matters.”
He spoke about going back to Bury for the League Cup. “I’ve no problem going back there because we parted on good terms,” he said. “I know they’re a good side, at least they were when I left them, and I know we’ll go in as the underdogs. But it’s not the size of the dog that matters, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.
“I know I’ll get a bit of stick when we go to Gigg Lane, but that’s football.”Follow UpTheClarets:
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