Away win is the key - Brian Laws

CLARETS boss Brian Laws admitted his side are “underachieving” as they lag behind the play-off places coming up to the halfway stage of the season.

Speaking at the club’s 113th AGM in the 1882 Lounge on Monday evening, however, Laws feels finding a level of consistency, and ending that search for an elusive away win, could make all the difference.

Burnley sit four points outside the top six and eight from second place, albeit with a game in hand after the postponed trip to Portsmouth.

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With one of, if not the strongest squad in the Championship, and one of the biggest budgets, expectations are high following relegation from the Premier League.

Fans’ frustrations are becoming more apparent as three times this season the Clarets have squandered two-goal leads, taking only two points from those games.

But, ahead of Saturday’s game at second place Cardiff, Laws said: “I think we are underachieving.

“We have a strong squad and that is the disappointing thing, that we haven’t turned some of the draws into wins.

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“We can all pick a game we should have won and we know those games in which we have let ourselves down.

“I think consistency is the key.

“The longer we don’t win away from home, the more the pressure starts building on our home form.

“Getting those couple of wins away from home will relax everyone because at the moment, tension is starting to creep in.

“Our expectations within the camp are extremely high and it becomes frustrating for the players because we are not doing it on a consistent basis.

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“But certainly the effort and commitment is unquestionable and we will do everything in our power to get that consistency because that is all that’s missing.”

Laws intends to help remedy that in January, having already laid out his targets to the board for the transfer window.

He will shake things up, moving some players out and bringing some in, while he also revealed he is hopeful of permanent deals for John Guidetti and Jack Cork, and of tieing up new contracts for Jay Rodriguez and Chris McCann.

He said: “Looking ahead to the January window, it will need freshening up.

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“We will look at recycling, allowing one or two players to go out and freshen it up.

“It’s important we do that, there’s no question it will enhance the team and give us a lift.

“It’s an important period for us.

“We should be effective in the window.”

Of McCann and Rodriguez, he added: “We’re making very good progress and I’d be very disappointed if both haven’t re-signed shortly.”

Guidetti is on an initial loan until January 3rd, but is out of contract at Manchester City at the end of the season, and Laws hopes to put Burnley in pole position to sign him: “He’s a very good player, no question, he has a very bright future.

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“His contract is out in the summer, and we have an opportunity to look at him.

“He might be 18, but he’s like a 28-year-old, and hoppefully we can get him enjoying his football here, give him good coaching methods, and he will do a job for us.

“Hopefully, like Jack Cork, he will enjoy being here - I think they are the type of players we would like to build the future around.”

In the present, Laws feels there is something of a siege mentality building at the club, after a meeting with his players on Monday, after the response to some of his comments following the 3-2 defeat to Leeds on Saturday.

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Laws said: “Everyone is in it together and I mean everybody at this football club.

“We are all pulling in the one direction, even though some may think we are not.

“I had to have a meeting with my players and they are all upset - and rightly so.

“But it hasn’t driven a wedge between me and those players; it has actually galvanised us.

“We had a very positive meeting and we are angry.

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“Our ambition will always be the same until the last breath.

“We will give it everything possible to get out of this division.

“There are going to be periods in a season when there will be highs and lows, but we have to keep a calmness about us.

“Yes, we are disappointed, but it is my honour to be manager of this football club and I will be driven to the last breath to make sure that we exhaust every avenue possible to achieve that success.

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“We are not where we should be and we are very aware of where we need to improve on.”

Chairman Barry Kilby admitted that the top six is the goal this season, and anything less would be considered failure: “Our aim is the play-offs, which is sensible, and the expectation is that if we don’t get into the play-offs, it would be deemed failure in our eyes.

“Our stated aim is to be in the mix.”

Kilby, who was re-elected to the board of directors by a unanimous vote, also spoke of the dilemma facing the club over buying back Turf Moor.

Should promotion be achieved back to the Premier League, it would be very high on the agenda.

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Four years ago, the ground was sold to Longside Properties - a company set up by Kilby and former director John Sullivan, who then sold their shares in the company last year.

However, there is a 100-year lease, and unconditional buy-back clause, and Kilby explained: “We have a 100-year lease and can buy the ground back within the contract we have for around £3.5/3.6m.

“We can take advantage of that whenever we can.

“After 10 years, the price goes to market value.

“But would you go for more strength on the playing squad, or to buy back the ground?

“That’s the dilemma we have.

“We would like eventually to buy it back, especially if we did the bounce back to the Premier League, it would be a no-brainer, as we wouldn’t have the debts we had last time.”

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Kilby also outlined that compensation for Owen Coyle, after his departure to Bolton in January “has been received, plus 15% roughly on top of that”, although the club remain in litigation over his coaching staff, with the sides still in dispute.

Chief Executive Paul Fletcher again spoke of the stadium redevelopment remaining on hold, although he expressed hope of an announcement of some sort in the next six-to-12 months, while there could be news of the proposed University concept at Turf Moor before the end of the year

John Banaszkiewicz was formally voted onto the board of directors, while a special resolution, that the qualification for future directors must be a shareholding of no less than £4,000, was passed by 87% of shareholders.