Clarke Carlisle eager for Leeds!

CLARKE Carlisle is hoping to put things right when his former employers come to Turf Moor tomorrow.

The Clarets defender had a ‘tough time’ at Elland Road during a one-season spell hit by injury, suspension and a tense relationship with the management team.

The 31-year-old joined the Leeds United ranks for the 2004/05 campaign on a free transfer following their relegation from the Premier League. He made 38 appearances during his stay under Kevin Blackwell’s tenure but a tear in his ankle ligaments against Rotherham United at the start of the season and a red card against Coventry City hindered his progress at the club.

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At the end of the season, Carlisle made a £100,000 move to Watford where he signed a three-year deal at Vicarage Road and had a taste of Premier League football.

“For me, on a playing side it was a tough time,” he said. “I did manage to play 35-40 games that season, but my relationship with the management staff there wasn’t positive to say the least. That can happen at football clubs. Sometimes you just don’t get on with people.

“The thing about football is that it’s a very subjective sport, and one man’s trash is another man’s gold, and when something is all based on opinion you’re always at the whim of another individual as an employee.

“And that was the case there. At the time I deemed it unfortunate that I had to leave, but then it was the best move I ever made because 12 months later I was in the Premier League. Every cloud has a silver lining.”

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Both clubs have experienced a fall from the top tier of English football though the circumstances surrounding the trans-pennine rivals fall from grace are completely different. Leeds were enshrouded in a cloud of financial difficulty and entered administration, forcing the sale of high profile players, in the aftermath of their exit. However, the Clarets have kept the nucleus of their Premier League squad and are financially sound, leaving Carlisle with the desire to make a return to the Premier League stage.

Carlisle said: “We are in a fortunate position but you’ve got to say that the past of the two clubs prior to their relegations were wholly different.

“Leeds had just come off the back of a European campaign where they were 20 minutes away from a Champions League final, so they had players like Viduka and Fowler and were launching out £40,000-£50,000 a week 10 years ago, when that was right at the upper echelons of the payscale.

“Whereas Burnley were struggling to financially survive in the Championship. The contrasting situations between the two sides I think mean that you can’t really compare how they coped with relegation.

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“What you can say is the promotion for Burnley definitely sorted out the financial aspect of the club, the security of the club, whereas with Leeds it made them put their house in order.

“Their relegation made them ship out all the bad business ventures that they’d gone on, dig out the bad wood and the dead wood and start again, whereas for us it’s given us a great basis to spring from.

“That’s what we’re looking to do this season, and that’s what I believe the position we’re in allows us to do.”

He added: “It has been noticeably different, even at the Turf, the difference in atmosphere from last season to this season, but that’s to be expected.

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“Last season was the real height of where this club could be, having United, Liverpool and Arsenal in town, and everyone was buoyant – the playing staff, the management staff and the fans.

“It takes some adjusting coming back down to the Championship.

“With every respect that’s due, entertaining the smaller clubs like Doncaster and Scunthorpe – it’s not sexy, but from a professional level they’re still 11 men just the same and whether the crowd is raucous or quiet we’re going to go out there and do the job to make sure we can have the big guns come to town every week again.

“The noise levels from the stand help us in as much as they can intimidate the opponents hopefully.

“From a team perspective we need to make sure that no matter what the noise levels are that we go out there and perform and do our duty.”