Clarets Player commentator Phil Bird talks all things football
Still in the Frame:
Disappointing and annoying as it was, our home defeat to struggling Birmingham City was only a setback as we are still very much in the frame. A total of 42 points after 29 games means we are still in touch with the top six.
We go to Peterborough United on Saturday searching for our fifth league win in seven games. The Posh are fighting for their lives. That alone makes it a tricky fixture.
One name to look out for is Dwight Gayle. Signed from Dagenham and Redbridge he has been a revelation at London Road. A former Arsenal trainee he has netted seven goals in just 11 league appearances for Boro.
Darren Ferguson has an eye for a bargain. Gayle looks like one of his best yet. Ferguson’s side cannot be underestimated. Even though they went bottom on Tuesday night, they have scored in their last nine league games and in successive games over Christmas they beat Cardiff, Bolton and Wolves.
Hopefully we will have Charlie Austin back in the squad for Saturday’s trip. I’ve said previously Austin is the best striker outside the top flight. He has 20 league goals in 24 appearances this season.
We will all be relieved when the transfer window shuts on Thursday night. According to rumours Celtic were interested if Gary Hooper moved to Norwich. However it seems City boss Chris Hughton has switched his attention to Leeds United’s striker Luciano Becchio.
Austin’s re-introduction after injury would be a major confidence booster. We need to kick on and put pressure on the sides in the play-off positions.
Anything can happen from here. I remember in our 1999-2000 promotion season we were ten points behind leaders Bristol Rovers with just 12 games left but caught them and beat Gillingham to automatic promotion at Scunthorpe on the last day.
Tackle the Question:
It’s official, nobody seems to recognise a good tackle anymore.
I've been staggered by some of the decisions given against us in the last few months and the decision to send off Dean Marney last Saturday topped the lot.
Thankfully, that red card has now been rescinded and I’m not sure how the referee even thought it was a foul!
Strong but fair, it was a clean, one-footed challenge that got the ball. I thought the referee was way too hasty. The red card was produced in ready, steady, fire fashion.
Our staff were told after the game Marney had used “excessive force”. What does that mean and who can gauge it?
The withdrawal of the red card doesn’t make it right. This rank poor decision changed the course of the game and gave Birmingham City a significant edge. To be fair City boss Lee Clark admitted that after the game.
I wouldn’t do the referee’s job for a gold clock but we’ve got to find a way to get some consistency week-in, week-out, otherwise fans will become disillusioned with the game and find something else to spend their money and time on.
Free the Chelsea One!
I thought there was an amazing over-reaction towards Eden Hazard after his altercation with Swansea’s cheeky ball boy. Yes, Hazard was at fault but he was trying to retrieve the ball after Charlie Morgan had absurdly laid on it rather than handing it back to the opposition.
Of course, it was right for referee Chris Foy to send Hazard off but I think that is sufficient punishment. Personally, I also think Swansea City were at fault too. It’s clear from the 17-year-old’s tweets he was going into the game with the intention of wasting as much time as possible.
I thought the referee wasn’t strong enough early in the game. If a team wastes 30 seconds and the official clearly states he’s intending to add on the full 30 seconds surely that negates the objective. The game will quickly speed up.
Last Saturday we saw a teenage international keeper wind the clock down repeatedly. The referee did nothing. All teams do it, I know, but I really think it’s time supporters got more value for money.
Allez Les Gars!
My favourite tweet of the week came from Reading’s French-born winger Jimmy Kebe.
Alerted by the number of French players gathering at St James’ Park, he joked: “On my way to Newcastle, having medical then sign a 4 years contract (sic). Thank you all for your support you've been outstanding!”
He quickly retracted his joke tweet amongst much confusion.
By the way, Allez Les Gars is French for Howay the lads!
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Burnley FC.