Just over a month ago I wrote about the two new managerial appointments at Burnley and Blackburn Rovers, together with the increasing merry-go-round of managers in Lancashire. Little did I know that my concluding query of whether Sean Dyche and Henning Berg would still be in charge next season would be answered only a few weeks later.
Henning Berg lasted only 8 weeks in his first job in English football. Perhaps the warnings signs were there before Berg had even managed his first game; with the need to defend his previous negative comments about the club’s foreign owners. Results and performances did little to quell the problems at the club and perhaps the hangover from previous manager Steve Kean was too much a burden for the rookie manager. A lack of organisation and fight was a constant accusation against Berg’s charges; a sure sign that he did not convince the players of his managerial qualities. A refusal to wear a Michael Jackson wig and stocking on his head at the Christmas party (I kid you not) and the poor Boxing Day performance against Middlesbrough brought a premature end to his reign after only 57 days. Not a great way to treat a one-time club legend.
A lack of passion, organisation and fight are not accusations which can be labelled to Burnley under new manager Sean Dyche. Before Dyche’s arrival at ‘The Turf’ Burnley had had only 2 clean sheets. Now it’s 8. They used to concede an average of 2.2 goals a game. Now it’s 0.8. Dyche’s tough, firm but fair mantra has breathed new life into players who had previously not featured heavily, such as Keith Treacy and the fit again Danny Ings. Youth has also been given a chance to shine with the introduction of Kevin Long and Kevin McDonald into the first team squad. Undefeated in 2013, and with key players Charlie Austin and Chris McCann to make comebacks after injury, Burnley fans will now be looking up the table towards the play-off spots rather than cautiously over their shoulders, as was the case earlier on in the season under Eddie Howe.
One man aiming to change the status quo will be Michael Appleton, who recently jumped the Tangerine ship to join that of the Blue and Whites. Appleton was the surprise candidate for the role, given his recent move to Blackpool and a far from convincing start to his time in charge there; he enjoyed only two victories. However, Appleton will, it seems, get the backing of a Blackburn faithful craving stability after recent turmoil.
In joining a team well lead by caretaker Gary Bowyer, who was undefeated in four games as boss, one of Appleton’s first challenges will be to get the enthusiasm and crowds back to Ewood Park. By making the most of attacking talent such as Jordan Rhodes and Josh King, Appleton should be able to do this by playing a more expansive style of football.
One thing is for sure, with the next derby only two months away, Appleton will soon get the chance to secure local bragging rights and a place in the hearts of the Blackburn fans.