Now, I suppose some people out there are still scratching their heads over Burnley’s appointment of Brian Laws and I must admit I was a tad taken aback. Anyone without a knowledge of the game outside of the Premiership, and there are plenty of those fans in England, never mind outside the U.K., would be wondering where on earth he’s come from.
Yes, it is a bit of a left field choice, but Burnley’s board have long admired Laws’ qualities as a manager and at the third attempt to sign him, they have got their man. Burnley went for Laws before they appointed Steve Cotterill back in 2004 and again in 2007 before going for Owen Coyle. It seems a spiritual affair too, as Laws’ playing career started at Burnley, who spotted him playing for the legendary North East junior team, Wallsend Boys club.
Most of the surprise seems to be based on the fact that Laws was until two weeks ago, manager of Sheffield Wednesday. Now a quick look at the Championship League table will tell you all you need to know about why some people are shocked he’s landed at Turf Moor. Yet I don’t think that paints the full picture of his abilities and the achievements that he had whilst managing Scunthorpe should not be underestimated. Not least being sacked for 3 weeks before being re-instated back in 2004.
He achieved miracles on a shoestring whilst he was at Glanford Park and rightly earned the chance to have a crack at trying to deal with the poisoned chalice that Sheffield Wednesday now offer. 13 managers since 1st January 2000, including 5 caretakers, tells you all you need to know about a club with ideas very much above its station. In fact, quite a lot of people had a lot of sympathy for Laws when he was shown the door at Hillsborough, because they were aware of the financial constraints that he has had to work under, tallied with with an over demanding level of expectation. Leeds United they are not.
Yet it is that same ability to work within tightly controlled budgets that probably gave him the nod to take control at Turf Moor and as an ex-player he will know all about the history and pride that Burnley fans have. Some people may be underwhelmed by the appointment and I was surprised when I saw that he’d been approached in the first place, but in the cold light of day I can completely see where Barry Kilby and the Burnley board are going here.
They haven’t gone down the depressing route of looking to a foriegn manager or an ex-player with loads of badges but no ability. Yes, he got sacked from Sheffield Wednesday, but as with Paul Hart, it’s not as obvious as things can be made out on the surface. No-one has succeeded at Wednesday since the early 1990’s and when he took over at Hillsborough in November 2006, the club were in danger of being relegated back to Division One.
Laws is a prudent, honest and no-nonsense manager who could be a great success at Burnley, don’t be too hasty to chastise him. Survival would mean everything to those Clarets fans and after all the upheaval in recent weeks, Laws can offer a smooth and straight talking style immediately. He served under Brian Clough as a player for 5 years during Forest last heady days of success and was always on the fringes of the England squad at the time.Now if he can survive a baptism of fire at Old Trafford and avoid hitting his star player in the face with a plate of chicken wings, he’ll do just fine.