Burnley 1, Newcastle United 2: Chris Boden's verdict as the Clarets are relegated

Well it was certainly good while it lasted.

By Chris Boden
Monday, 23rd May 2022, 7:00 am

A golden era, six wonderful years, of Burnley reaching heights they hadn't scaled since the early 1970s.

Two top 10 finishes, European football, taking on and beating the English game’s elite.

But Sunday was the last knockings of a magnificent period, which has felt like it has been coming to an end for a couple of years, if we're being honest.

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BURNLEY, ENGLAND - MAY 22: Jack Cork of Burnley reacts during the Premier League match between Burnley and Newcastle United at Turf Moor on May 22, 2022 in Burnley, England. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

While the previous ownership's failure to sufficiently back Sean Dyche after qualifying for the Europa League was a grave error, that was only enhanced by the pitiful summer window in 2020, when the club brought in only a third choice goalkeeper and a £1m midfielder who has made 10 Premier League appearances.

It was one of Dyche's great achievements to keep the Clarets up last season, but you felt it was only because there were three poorer sides.

The last of investment was always going to catch up with the club, as Dyche himself suspected.

Many Burnley fans have braced themselves for the worst almost from the off this term, after another typically slow start, while dismal home form from January 2021 continued into this campaign.

One win from the first 21 league games was a scenario that was unlikely to end well, despite a late rally from interim boss Mike Jackson in the final eight games.

The damage was already done to some extent, underlined by a failure to score against Norwich home and away, including a desperate defeat at Carrow Road which proved the death knell for Dyche - along with a goal-less draw at home to Watford, a 1-0 defeat at a Newcastle side then devoid of confidence after going winless in their first 14 games, and by only taking one point from six against Leeds.

Many of this group of Burnley players will go down as club greats, scaling heights fans scarcely thought possible - particularly those who had endured seven years in the basement division and near oblivion.

But there were only so many times some of them could keep going to the well - this squad should have been refreshed and overhauled long since.

It was remarkable they managed to keep battling and take things to the final day, and drag a couple of far bigger city clubs with them. It speaks volumes of their spirit, togetherness and mentality.

That only takes you so far though, competing week after week against superior players ands resources.

It’s the hope that kills you, and with the odds in their favour on Sunday, needing to match or better Leeds’ result at Brentford, it was something of a disappointment in the end to just fall short.

That is down to the work Jackson, his staff and players put in after the shock and surprise of Dyche’s departure, and you felt for the interim boss after the game.

Jackson has given his all for the cause, stepping into the breach, meticulously planning for each game and getting a bounce that gave Burnley a chance, when there appeared little.

So it was distressing to see him take relegation as hard as he did.

He said, when asked what is next for him: "Suffer. That won't go away for a long, long time, in fact it won't go away, it will always be there, it's something I'll have to live with, but it will never go away.”

Jackson can hold his head up high after his efforts, knowing his hard work made a dramatic escape possible.

He gave Burnley supporters hope when there appeared little, and credit to him.

After what is next for Jackson, what next for the club?

Financially there are concerns after the leveraged buy out and loan taken out against the club, with money taken out of the club in the process, and on the pitch, with nine players out of contract, things are up in the air.

On the face of it, even with some big sales, and players departing at the end of their deals, Burnley could still put out a side that should be pushing for a top six place at the very least.

The right managerial appointment is critical, however.

It remains to be seen what happens on that front, given Vincent Kompany’s apparent reluctance to take over a side back in the Championship, and we will find out whether the decision to dismiss Dyche was the correct one in the longer term.

Not many managers are better equipped to build a side and lead a promotion charge from that level, and the club could well come up against their former boss, as you would expect him to get a job at that level, at least, over the coming weeks and months.

Perversely, for the fans at least, there may be some welcome respite.

Everyone wants to be at the top table, but it would be nice to have more than the crumbs Burnley have been fed of late.

Seventeen wins in 76 Premier League games, over the last two seasons, is tough going.

Fans want to see their side be competitive, to go home and away feeling they could win each weekend, not expect a lesson in damage limitation.

And the renewal of some grand old derby fixtures will bring much excitement, as Burnley take a 12-year unbeaten record into games against Blackburn, while also taking on Preston, Blackpool and Wigan.

These are far from positives in relegation, but relegation is not the end.

We’ve been here before, and worse, and hopefully a new man can get everyone pulling in the same direction and usher in more Times Like These.