With Dyche at the helm we can bounce back up - Alastair Campbell

Prominent Clarets fan Alastair Campbell is looking forward to life back in the Championship after relegation from the Premier League.

Thursday, 6th August 2015, 2:30 pm
SPIN DOCTOR: Alastair Campbell, middle, attending a Burnley match at Yeovil last year

And he has high hopes Burnley can challenge for a return to the top table, with Sean Dyche at the helm.

Campbell has followed the Clarets for over half a century, since his first game at the age of four, when he used to travel from the family home over the border in Keighley.

His passion for Burnley has not diminished over that time, as he finds time in his packed schedule to catch games whenever he can.

Ron Hattersley, Barry Kilby, Gordon Birtwistle, Alastair Campbell and David Plunkett at a Burnley match

I caught up with him while he was cycling in France - and taking in Le Tour. Campbell, Tony Blair’s former Director of Communications and Strategy, looked ahead to the forthcoming campaign: “I think we should be fairly hopeful this season. I don’t think the Premier League is all it’s made out to be, and the Championship is probably more enjoyable and competitive.

“Burnley will probably need to strengthen further, though I’m sure Sean wants to.

“Sean will have them organised with good morale again.

“The Championship is one of the most competitive leagues, one of the hardest to get out of, and expectations will be high for Burnley now.

Alastair Campbell with his new book, Winners, at the launch at Turf Moor

“But they won’t want for effort and determination.

“There is a pretty good squad despite the departures. I think a lot depends on who comes in now Jason Shackell has left. Jelle Vossen looks a good signing, although I don’t know enough about him. Matt Lowton looks a good signing.

“Hopefully Lowton can step in and keep the defence solid as usual.

“You would expect Burnley to have more of the ball again at this level though, unlike in the Premier League where you would be expected to have to defend for long periods in most of the games.”

Campbell felt Burnley were good enough to survive in the Premier League, as they just fell short, but he was disappointed with one Clarets star: “I think the biggest loss is Kieran Trippier, rather than Danny Ings.

“Trippier has been great for the club - I would never criticise him for leaving.

“At his best, Ings was excellent, but when Trippier was having an average game, he was still very good.

“I think Ings, over the second half of the season, was just not there, with the speculation and contract situation, and towards the end his head was dropping.

“The truth is, he probably won’t get in Liverpool’s first team. I think the fans would have been annoyed if the club had sold him in January, but he didn’t deliver over the second half of the season.

“George Boyd was my player of the year, I thought he was fantastic.

“I think Sean knew it was always going to be a struggle - Burnley haven’t got enough money - but they were two or three results away from staying up quite comfortably.

“I think they were better than Aston Villa and Sunderland, and, probably, up to the Leicester game, it was there for Burnley. But after that ... apart from the West Brom game, no one battered us. The defence was pretty strong - Shackell did well, and Michael Duff was amazing - he never lets you down. Michael Keane will be a very good player as well.

“The loss of Dean Marney was tragic, but I don’t think Ings delivered for us once his head was turned. Ashley Barnes did, despite not being as good a player as Ings - he did a good job, Sam Vokes did well when he came back, and Boyd was fantastic as I say.”

Campbell, as ever, will be back in the directors’ box at Turf Moor, and among the hardcore support in the stands away from home this season. He was at Ibrox for the recent friendly at Rangers, and hopes to be at Elland Road for the televised opening game of the season against Leeds United: “I broke off from the Tour for the Rangers game - my Scottish team is Kilmarnock, though I always liked Celtic with the Lisbon Lions. Walter Smith and Ally McCoist are two good friends of mine though!

“I’ll be at most games, although I’ll miss a few. I’m hoping to be back for Leeds, I can’t wait.”