Spyin' Kop - Liverpool v Burnley - 12/09/09

Posted by SalisburyRed on September 9, 2009, 01:55:21 PM

Two sides on six points, but with vastly differing assessments of the season so far. Burnley come to Anfield on Saturday daring to dream a little. With a daunting opening set of fixtures including matches against four of last season’s top five, you’d have been forgiven for thinking that the Clarets’ season started in earnest with the visit of Sunderland on September 19. Victories over Manchester Utd and Everton, however, have put paid to any idea that the Lancashire side are going to be cannon fodder for the big boys – having reached the Premier League, Burnley aren’t planning on leaving any time soon.

Liverpool, on the other hand, have had a disappointing start to the season, although that’s not to say that pre-season optimism has been totally drained. Opening day defeat and the loss of an impressive unbeaten home record have brought about a stop-start beginning to the campaign. Drawn home matches against the league’s smaller teams cost Liverpool dear last year. Having thrashed Stoke already, the fans will be hoping that the Reds can do the business against Burnley too, and keep the season on track after the comeback against Bolton.

Liverpool v Burnley
Saturday September 12
Anfield, Liverpool
Kick-off: 3pm

Burnley FC club honours

Football League champions - 1920/21, 1959/60

Football League Division 2 winners - 1897/98, 1972/73

Football League Division 3 winners - 1981/82

Football League Division 4 winners - 1991/92

FA Cup winners - 1913/14

FA Charity Shield winners - 1973

Anglo-Scottish Cup winners - 1978/79

For this edition of Spyin’ Kop, I spoke to the good folk at Clarets Mad, who told me about their side’s team spirit, their love for their manager, and how they’re all fans of Djimi Traoré. Many thanks to all who contributed – I’ve included a handful below. The full set of responses can be found here.

1. Honestly, did you really expect to have six points from your first four matches, including a win against Manchester Utd? What's been the secret to your good start?

Rowls - It's been a greater start to the season than any of us dared to dream. Although it exceeds our expectations we've learned not to be so surprised with what Owen Coyle can achieve. After all, we beat Chelsea, Arsenal, Totenham, Fulham, West Brom and Bolton last season.
claretforever1988 - I never expected 6 points from our first four games. Maybe a couple from the Everton and Stoke game, but never expected to beat United. The secret to our good start is a bit of luck and a lot of hard work.
what_no_pies - I backed us with my hard earned to beat both Manchester United and Everton. The secret, daring to dream.
kredders - Funnily enough I remained optimistic once I had seen our opening fixtures, but after losing naively at Stoke, on the way to Turf Moor for the Man Utd game it dawned on me that we may well be struggling to get a point on the board after 5 games. So I can't say I expected much, but this Burnley team just keep proving everything wrong, nothing we do seems a shock to me any more and it's fantastic! The secret? Team spirit is a very underestimated quality to have in a football team. As trialling as a small squad can be, it keeps the group tight knit and we've continued to reap the rewards this season. Obviously we have a few players that can hurt other teams as well, plus a fantastic work ethic is required from every member of the squad.
clarethomer07 - I felt as soon as the fixtures came out, 7 points from our first 5 games was achievable if we had a little luck and didn't fall to bits. I had thought the points would have been 3 from the stoke and 3 from the everton games with a point being picked up against utd, chelsea or yourselves. Clearly, it was always going to be the best possible outcome of the first 5 games from the set of players we had. I believe that had we had Bikey at Stoke, we may have done better there, a point at least.

2. Has your start to the season changed your expectations? Is the main aim simply to finish in the top 17, or can you now look a little higher than that?

Rowls - The good start hasn't changed the main aim of the season. We're still very much concentrating on survival. Anything above that would be a massive bonus.
claretforever1988 - Some people's expections might have changed, but mine is simply to finish in the top 17.
what_no_pies - 17th will do just fine thanks, although we have been written off by many and I feel that realistically we could finish a little higher.
kredders - Not at all. 4th from bottom would be marvellous. It's a long hard season and none of us should be getting carried away. It's all well and good beating teams like United and Everton, but it's wins against the Hulls, Boltons and Wigans that may well keep us up in the end. I'm reserving judgement 'til I've seen us play sides like that where we've struggled in the past.
clarethomer07 - Again, I had a feeling that if we could emulate our form against the Premier League sides we played in last seasons cup runs then we would be looking at a top half finish. Typically, one promoted team will do OK and I just felt that with the manager we had and the underdog status we carry, he will be able to get the best from our players and it could be our turn this year. I am looking for a top half finish personally but realistically, if we stay up, it would be a massive thing for the club. Its one game at a time for me as success or failure can depend on such a small thing happening at this level.

3. Which of your players should Liverpool fans (and players!) be looking out for in particular on Saturday?

Rowls - Robbie Blake has carried on his scinilating form the end of last season and Everton fan David Nugent will be looking to put one past the Reds of Merseyside. Coming off the bench, our Ecuadorian winger Guerrero could make an interesting cameo.
claretforever1988 - Robbie Blake might be one to watch. His performances, especially in the Spurs cup game last season, and the goal vs man u make him quite a threat.
what_no_pies - Bikey must be one of the bargains of the summer. Chris McCann continues to improve with every game and his driving runs from midfield are becoming a real feature of our play. Robbie Blake will turn your defence inside out and Martin Paterson tireless work will have Carragher praying for the final whistle. Fernando Guerrero has a trick in his locker and catches the eye, but I imagine you'll only see a cameo.
kredders - As shown against Man Utd, Robbie Blake can create something out of nothing. Also, the trio of Clarke Carlisle, Andre Bikey and Brian Jensen will have to keep up their wonderful form if we are to have any chance of a result.
clarethomer07 - After the you tube videos, Stevie G better be on the look out for Bikey... I think you have to realise that we have a few attacking players that can create chances, Robbie Blake, Wade Elliot, Chris Eagles for example. If Guerrero gets any time, he has shown some initial excitement in his play with his quick feet.

4. The other end of the scale now - simply, who is your worst first-team regular?

Rowls - Owen Coyle has got the whole first team playing as team unit so it's difficult to pick out any weak links. The most inconsistent player who is probably Chris Eagles but he is also one of the most talented.
claretforever1988 - I can't really fault any of our players this season. They have all been excellent and I couldn't single anyone out.
what_no_pies - There isn't one, we win or lose as a team and that is evident in each of our performances under God. If I was to be critical of any feature of our play it would be that we tend to start games with only one out and out winger on the pitch in Wade Elliott, and he plays centre midfield these days.
kredders - That's the great thing about Burnley under Owen Coyle; there is rarely a weak link. Each player knows his role and will run himself into the ground to help his teammate. It's a fantastic feeling knowing if one of your players is kicked the whole team will limp.
clarethomer07 - At the moment, it would be difficult to say to be honest for me personally. We are a team and its this ethic that has got us this far. I would imagine you will get a few Stephen Jordan responses as he has some of the crowd on his back but to be fair, he has become one of those players who will have a storming game and its all quiet on the forum, as soon as he can be picked up on something, no matter how minor it was or the fact that it didn't actually cost us anything, it can get a bit repetitive on here.

5. Away from the players now, let's talk about your manager. Owen Coyle's been in charge since 2007 - how far can he take your club, and how high do you expect him to go in his managerial career?

Rowls - There can be nothing but praise for Owen Coyle. He has taken a team of mid-table Championship players and turned them into a team capable of beating the best in the country. We fully expect him to rise to the very top, which is a relief in a sense because when he does go it will be to a truly big team; not a Bolton or a Blackburn.[/b]
claretforever1988 - I wouldn't expect Owen Coyle to keep us up based on the budget we're on, but if anyone can, he can. He gives confidence to the players and we seem to have quite a strong team spirit. It wouldn't surprise me if he moved on to a top half premier league club as he is very ambitious, but hopefully that will be a good few years off yet.
what_no_pies - Owen Coyle is God.
kredders - I've been saying for a while now that he's destined for the top. It'll take a while but I think he's got all the qualities needed to be a success at a big club - such as Liverpool - eventually. As long as he stays with us the sky is the limit. I have full faith in him to keep us up and work from there in the coming seasons.
clarethomer07 - I could see him to either manage Celtic or become an international manager but with us, I think if he was to be able to keep us up this year, he would have more money for transfers next year in theory (as we have paid directors loans back and buying the ground back etc) so I could see him establishing us in the premier league. All I expect from him is to ensure we play attractive football and to establish us in the PL. I don't know who would be able to do any better than OC at the moment, who would work with his budgets. He has made it very difficult to even want to consider what will happen when he leaves.

The other thing I have considered is that you just need to look at the top 5 teams in the premier league and the financial backing they have. I think any manager with the resources that we are ever likely to have would make it impossible to get us to where you guys are year in and year out. To get the commercial viability etc to be able to start competing at a mediocre level financially in the Premier League will take time and I cannot see OC extending his contract any further with us or being there in the timeframes this would take to achieve.

He has shown great integrity and respect to the club by turning down the chance to talk to Celtic in the summer because he brought players in asking them to commit to the cause and he saw it that if he did not finish what he had said he was going to do, how could he look his players in the eye and ask them to keep doing what they were doing. Likewise, he has stated that he has a responsibility to the club to ensure its best positioned as possible after he has gone. How many managers in the premier league have said that. Most won't take a job unless they have massive budgets etc.

6. So, while you're sitting/standing in your corner of the ground, what songs or chants are the rest of Anfield going to have to drown out? Any particular favourites?

Rowls - Listen out for our ear-bursting renditions of No Nay Never and our Um Bah-Bah celebration song.
claretforever1988 - No nay never is one of our favourites that we like to sing about our rivals from down the road.
what_no_pies - der der der der, Owen Coyle
kredders - No Nay Never gets the most people on their feet - though I won't be joining in as I'll be in the home end with a Scouse mate! We're not the most adventurous when it comes to chants, but we'll make a noise nevertheless.
clarethomer07 - No nay never is our main chant in my opinion but Owen Coyles song is up there added with the nobody likes us song.

7. I have a feeling there may be quite a common response to this, but here goes. Do you have any particularly fond or strong memories of clashes with Liverpool over the years?

Rowls - We all know the legend that is Djimi Traore but we also fondly remember beating Dalglish, Souness and co. 1-0 in a meaningless sencond leg League Cup semi-final, having lost the first leg 4-1 (if memory serves my right).
claretforever1988 - Only seen us play you once, so it has to be the Djimi Traore goal in our 1-0 win a few years ago  :P
what_no_pies - Djimi Traore - fantastic goal.
kredders - At just 17, all I can remember is Traore. A bizarrely fantastic moment for us. I'm thinking Benitez will be taking us more seriously on Saturday as far as team selection goes...
clarethomer07 - I still fondly remember the own goal at the turf in the cup...

8. Let's talk tactics - how are the Clarets going to line up on Saturday? Will they be parking the bus?

Rowls - We'll go with the Owen Coyle mantra on this: We will look to be strong and defend as a unit and when we get the opportunity will look to get forward and commit men upfront. Don't expect us to be looking for a draw.
claretforever1988 - We will come to play, but I expect it might be a 'back to the walls' job like it was a Chelsea. We will have to convert any chances we create this time though and maybe nick something.
what_no_pies - We always play to win the game. I expect to see Alexander in the holding role which allows our midfield to get forward and support the attack. Two strikers usually start with one covering the wing which is exposed by the use of a defensive midfielder. The signing of Nugent could shake things up though.
kredders - We'll be 4-5-1 with attacking wingers supporting the lone striker I would think as it's worked wonders for us so far. There'll be no parking the bus with Mr Coyle you'll be pleased to hear. He'd rather go there, have a go and get beat by three than park the bus and hope for the best and, quite frankly, so would I.
clarethomer07 - OC does not set his team up to defend. He likes attacking football and wants to win games. Chelsea were class and didn't allow us that and provided us a masterclass. We usually play 4-1-4-1. We have lots of attacking players too so I think, we will not be seen as parking the bus.

9. Onto us now. How do you think Liverpool's season will pan out?

Rowls - I honestly think this could be Liverpool's year to win their first ever Premier League title.
claretforever1988 - I can't see you winning the league because looking at your bench, there isn't as much quality there as other teams. I still expect you to finish top 4, but whereabouts in the top 4 will depend on injuries to Torres and Gerrard.
what_no_pies - Torres will be complaining of being tired after a few more games and should take a page out of Alexanders book. You relied too much on Gerrard even before Alonso left so I can't see how you can win the title now.
kredders - I know nothing about Aquilani, but with him out anyway the absence of Alonso seems to have hit Liverpool hard as far as creativity from deep goes. I was a great admirer of Alonso - his range of passing was exceptional - and it will be hard for anyone to fill in for him, never mind Lucas (who seems to be getting a lot of stick anyway). However, Champions League qualification will be assured again without doubt. Probably a third place finish behind Chelsea and Man Utd.
clarethomer07 - I have said it on another thread. I think the wheels are close to falling off your club as things are. You have hardly spent this year, you had one of the lowest net spends of the top 5 clubs. You have sold a great player and I think there is a lot of animosity behind the scenes in terms of political games amongst the management and board. I heard that Liverpool have already dropped points which amount to about 50% of the average total points dropped by the winners of the league. So if you don't get your act together, it will be another year where you fail to land the league title.

10. Which Liverpool players do you fear the most?

Rowls - The obvious danger men crop up here. Torres has been simply unplayable at times at Anfield. If Gerrard can overcome the injury that has been hampering him at international level (and a funny feeling in my toe makes me think he can) then he will be another.
claretforever1988 - Steven Gerrard. Any room we allow him in and around the box is likely to end up in the back of the net. Torres will also be one we will have to mark well, but I think Bikey and Carlisle will be more than up for the challenge.
what_no_pies - They all have two arms, two legs, and a head, just like our lot.
kredders - Has to be Gerrard and Torres. They've shown what they're capable of, particularly at home, and if the're at the races on Saturday it'll be a long afternoon. If we manage to carve a few chances of our own, we still have a very good goalkeeper to get past in Reina. But the whole Liverpool side is bound to be riddled with quality, so I'm sure we'll be focusing on ourselves rather than worrying about the opposition.
clarethomer07 - Torres

11. Finally, have a go at predicting the score.

Rowls - I think we'll be better prepared than we were at Chelsea and liverpool haven't quite got going yet this season. If we get a draw I'll be literally over the parrot. Liverpool 2 - 2 Burnely
claretforever1988 - My heart says 1-1, but my head thinks you'll win 2-0. I look forward to my first visit to Anfield, and hopefully it'll be a happy one.
what_no_pies - 0-1 with Robbie Blake firing home a free kick. Good game lads, unlucky.
kredders - I thought we'd get a hiding a few weeks ago, but now I'm not too sure. Liverpool 2-1 Burnley.
clarethomer07 - Heart - 0-1 to us. Head - 2-0 to you

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