New season, new league, and new blogs. The club is about to play in the Championship again for the first time in 10 years, and after all that time in the cushy top division, the Championship is largely foreign waters. The players will have to adapt, but so will we at Lion of Vienna Suite. Moving to a new division has meant that we've had to scout for new fans to answer our questions. First up is Adam Haworth from the excellent Burnley blog, No Nay Never. We asked him how Burnley's been fairing of late, how he thinks Bolton will do, and if Burnley fans still hate us over the little Owen Coyle debacle...Burnley inspired many when they came into the Premiership in 2009. The team played some nice football, the support was likable, the ground was nice. However, things just didn't come together for Burnley, and you ended up going back down after one season. What went wrong? What do you think a smaller club needs to do to find the stability to make it in the top division?
Adam Haworth: I don't know what went wrong really. We lost all momentum when Owen left us and that situation wasn't helped by the fact that Brian Laws, the incoming manager wasn't really able to have time to strengthen in the transfer market. What also didn't help was the fact that we'd appointed a manager who had no experience of the Premier League, was seemingly tactically inept and tried to do too much too soon. We never seemed to have Premier League quality players from the outset (bar maybe Steven Fletcher, who was nowhere near as good here as he has been at Molineux). So to stay up, a smaller club needs to have proven players, momentum that's not at all disrupted and a good manager who will get the best out of his players from start to finish.
A factor that probably didn't help was Bolton poaching your manager, Owen Coyle (sorry about that one). At the time, Burnley fans didn't seem very impressed. What is the general attitude toward Bolton, 2 years later?
AH: Ah yes, Mr Coyle. I have never been so angry at someone about Football in my life and I was not alone in my vitriol towards Owen. Now, some fans have forgiven and forgotten, perhaps highlighting the fact that he has not been too successful at Bolton as a positive towards the whole situation. Some feel it doesn't matter anymore as we've got a great guy in Eddie Howe, but the venom still remains with many. Coyle effectively ripped the heart out of our club in what was meant to be a dream season, and we were forced to make our youth team coaches manage the first team for one or two games - we were left with no back room staff. I think that's the real reason why there's still venom. But it served as a wake up call to us all and we'll never treat any other manager as well as we treated Owen, because it only comes right back at you. That's football.
Last season Burnley finished comfortably mid-table in 13th. What was the season like for you? What do you see as realistic goals for the club in the upcoming season?
AH: It was pretty topsy-turvy. You know it's been an up and down season when you're dreading relegation one week and dreaming of a return to the Premier League the next. We were looking dead set to go down before a hearty come-back away at Hull. It was amazing, we were doing so badly and then went on a storming run, only to run out of energy after losing to Reading (a game which was so close, but changed things so dramatically) and after that we seemed to peter out. This season we really need to be pushing for the playoffs. We've strengthened well in all the areas we needed to and hopefully that'll mean a more consistent performance level throughout and a solid finish to the season.
Who are the players that Bolton should watch out for at Turf Moor?
AH: Burnley are a very young squad, less so than last season due to the experience of Shackell and Stock being added to the squad, but still young nonetheless. Kieran Trippier had a great season last year and as well as being a solid right back, his cross is lethal. Eddie likes to play with attacking fullbacks and if Joseph Mills starts on the left, he's looked good in pre-season so can will be dangerous too. Due to international call-ups and injuries, we're struggling up front so the only real option is to play Charlie Austin. He was the top scorer of league goals last season and with confidence he's really dangerous.
This summer Burnley announced that new signing Jason Shakell will be the club captain. How do you feel about having someone who has never even played for the club being automatically ushered in as skipper, especially considering he occupied the same role all season for his old club Derby?
AH: I don't think anyone's fussed. We've been in desperate need of leadership on the pitch for the last couple of seasons and Shackell is a great leader and seems to have a natural, strong aurora about him and I think it can only be a good thing to have more experience and leadership. Chris McCann seemed restrained by the role last season and there are no real other candidates for the armband elsewhere.
Realistically, how do you think Bolton will do in the Championship?
AH: I think they'll get promoted (although I don't like to say it). They have seemed to keep the majority of their squad around from last season which means they'll be a solid unit and should be good in the Championship.
And finally, can I have a prediction for the big match?
AH: 2-1 Burnley. I have absolutely no reason for that prediction, because as you'll soon learn, you can never predict any game in the Championship. Anyone can beat anyone.
Thanks again to Adam Haworth and No Nay Never for answering all of our questions!