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01-11-2010, 10:31 PM #1
Graham Alexander is Upbeat, but Troubled Times Lie Ahead for Burnley
The defiance being shown at Burnley Football Club at the moment is commendable - but, beneath the bravado, Owen Coyle's departure to manage Bolton Wanderers has left a deep and painful wound.
And, unless it can be patched up soon, Burnley's hopes of staying in the Premier League this season drop by the day.
Captain Steven Caldwell and Graham Alexander have stepped forward to maintain that the team can bounce back from Coyle's departure. You would not expect them to say anything else.
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Yet, behind the mask of optimism, both players are devastated to have lost their manager and, while Coyle is now expected to keep Bolton Wanderers in the top-flight, it could be at the expense of his old club.
Burnley enjoyed a wonderful two years under Coyle as last year's Carling Cup semi-final was followed up by promotion - and Alexander insists they are not about to head in the opposite direction.
He said: "We're still in the Premier League, which is where we want to be, and we're still playing football for a
living, so there's not too much to be down about.
"We've just lost a man who was in charge of us for a couple of years but we've got to take it forward. What he's done here over the last two years and the bond he had with the players and the supporters was a hard one for him to break.
"But in football everyone's building a career for themselves and he thinks the best decision for him is to go to Bolton.
"The players have got to put it to bed now. He was the manager for a great two-year period but there are a lot
of players and a lot of people behind the scenes who had a lot to do with that as well and they're still here.
"Our loyalty stays with Burnley at the moment and with each other. The end of the story isn't today or this week. Hopefully we can carry it on and stay in the Premier League and take it on from there.
"There's no reason why we can't go and establish ourselves in the Premier League for years to come, it's just a
shame that Owen Coyle's not going to be at the head of it and taking charge."
Whoever replaces Coyle has a mountain to climb on two fronts. First, he must win over a dressing room that is upset and currently demotivated - regardless of what is being said publicly - and then he has to find a way for Burnley to win away from home.
Nineteen of Burnley's 20 points have come at Turf Moor this season and, although they have earned plaudits for their attacking flair, it has ultimately proved to be of little use on the road.
With 40 points seen as the average number of points needed to stave off relegation, Burnley are only halfway towards that goal and simply cannot rely on home form to get them there.
In the second half of the season, they will face the likes of Arsenal, Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur at home so they cannot be guaranteed any points from those encounters.
It means that, while llosing Coyle was bad enough for Burnley's fans, their real nightmare may only just be starting.
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