Podcast 62: What a comeback!

James and Ian join Jamie on this week’s podcast to discuss the two Christmas games against Liverpool and City.

One point from the two matches was a decent return, but should the Clarets have beaten the Reds? A super fightback at the Etihad more than made up for it.

Sam Vokes’ return provided a boost as well but he missed the City game – how should his comeback be managed?

You can listen online here or below. To listen to all previous episodes of the NNN podcast, please visit our mini-site, where you can also find links to subscribe on iTunes. Check out our guide if you’re not sure what any of this means. If you have any feedback/questions or want to be a guest one week, please email us at the usual address: podcast@nonaynever.net.

Thanks to our sponsors Neville Gee and our editor Stephen Long.

New Year, Newcastle?

Before this season started I wrote an article predicting three things I thought would definitely happen this season. Unsurprisingly, none have come true. However the one which surprises me the most is that tomorrow’s trip to Newcastle hasn’t been more eagerly anticipated.

So the date isn’t exactly ideal – nobody wants to spend their first waking hours of the new year feeling as rough as a bear’s rear end on the A1. Still, given how long it’s been since our last visit, surely our tickets should have been snapped up well before Christmas?

But the seemingly imminent departure of Alan Pardew to Crystal Palace got me thinking – they’re actually not that big of a draw anymore.

Just have a quick scan down their Wikipedia page. For nineties kids like myself, Newcastle were one of the most revered teams in the land: Shearer, Ginola, Robson et al. And yet, as the years go on, these names disappear, replaced by the far less reputable ones of Roeder, Kinnear, Wonga and, most of all, Ashley.

It’s alarming that a club who have so recently developed and boasted such wonderful players relied so heavily on Sammy Ameobi on their recent visit to the Turf.

While no article should draw research from the PlayStation LMA Manager series, Newcastle remained the go to club for any upwardly mobile bedroom gaffer well into the early 2000s. Big transfer kitty, a starting XI of internationals, a stadium capable of becoming an open air 80,000 capacity coliseum within three years and a mere six-figure sum to immediately relieve Titus Bramble of his playing duties. What’s not to like?

Yet in reality, no such grandeur ever transpired. Relegation from the top tier provided the deepest trough and despite a few flirtations with a French renaissance, the club remains endemically mired in self-harm and failure.

While some revel in laughing at the caricature pot-bellied angry magpies, what continues to occur upon the Tyne should anger us all. A club of such rich history belittled to a mere cash-cow for Ashley and his cronies. Players sold at the first flash of a chequebook, yes-men preferred to managers. Yohan Cabaye and Loic Remy alone would make our trip north a much different proposition.

And while the rumour appears to be nonsense, even the notion of Nigel Worthington – the recently resigned manager of York City – taking the helm shows just how far the club has fallen.

So perhaps it’s no wonder that the clamour for tickets never transpired.

Let me be clear – I don’t expect Newcastle to be relegated, nor to I expect ourselves to finish above them. Ashley and whoever he chooses to appoint will ensure that the club preserves its top flight place with the minimum required outlay. But this is by no means the Newcastle I grew up hoping to watch us meet.

Tomorrow, 2,700 of us will descend on St. James’ Park. However for most of us, it will be either the ground or the ale (or both) which convince us to start our 2015 in the north-east – and not the hosts.

As much as I’d like the Geordie rut to continue until the second day of the new year, in the long term it’s a bloody sad sight to see – and another warning to us all, as if it was needed, of the dangers of handing majority control to those who ought to be kept furthest from it.

What’s gone wrong at Newcastle? Comment below.

How Barnes was top drawer

There could hardly be a more difficult task on the football pitch than to play up front against the Premier League champions away from home.

The scenario is the following. You expect your team to be put under severe pressure and it is up to YOU to somehow get to the ball, hold it up or knock it on, bring your teammates into play and enable the whole team to move up the pitch. YOU are responsible for providing a breather to your teammates and, if possible, a platform for your team to build their own attacks.

Burnley’s sensational comeback at the Etihad Stadium has inevitably gone down as a game of two halves. It doesn’t entirely reflect the story of the match, though. Manchester City dominated the opening 45 minutes, but didn’t actually have to do that much to take a two-goal lead. They were ruthless rather than sublime.

Meanwhile, the Clarets had very good spells of their own. The first one, typically, was followed by the opening goal of the game at the other end. Then, there was another one when Kieran Trippier whipped in some quality crosses from set plays. Ashley Barnes would go on to create three goalscoring chances and net a famous equaliser in the second half, but his performance was remarkable throughout the full 90 minutes (and added time).

Indeed, in a similar way to George Boyd, although for other reasons, Barnes is a tricky player to define. His best position is obvious. He is a striker. What type though? A big centre forward? One with plenty of pace, making runs into the channels and in behind? A goalscorer, constantly getting on the end of crosses? He is none of them.

Sean Dyche perhaps described Barnes best when calling him an awkward customer after his winner against Southampton earlier this month. The Burnley manager then continued by revealing that his striker’s physical stats were through the roof.

And that was probably the best description. Barnes is about effort. He runs, fights, scraps and puts defenders under pressure. In the first half at the Etihad, he caused problems to every single City defender. First, both Martín Demichelis and Aleksandar Kolarov were unhappy with his aggressive challenges. Then, Pablo Zabaleta collided with Eliaquim Mangala as a result of Barnes jumping for the ball with Joe Hart. He committed four fouls* and was fouled himself on three occasions, as illustrated below.

Barnes

But, crucially, Barnes can also play. Sometimes he may be a bit uneasy on the eye. However, certainly not this time. Remarkably, he didn’t misplace a single pass in the first half (!) and finished the game with a passing accuracy of 86% – which is nearly unheard of for a centre forward and was equalled only by Dean Marney among Clarets. (David Silva had 82%, while Barnes’ season average is… 62%)

Barnes 2

Barnes did his task superbly. He held the ball up – using his feet, chest, head – bringing his teammates into play and enabling the whole team to move up the pitch. He provided both the breather and the platform. And contributed to both goals.

If this centre-forward display was reminiscent of one from the past, it’s brought back memories from Robert Lewandowski’s heroic performance against Russia at Euro 2012. And if Barnes is similar to any other player, who scores similar types of goals, Thomas Müller springs to mind.

This time, he even celebrated his goal properly!

* All stats are attributed to Squawka.

Get involved with NNN for the new year

If you’re looking for a new year’s resolution this year? Maybe you’re still a little merry from yesterday’s all-day drinking and you’ll say yes to anything? Well why not get involved with your favourite Clarets blog?

We’re entirely reliant on contributions from volunteers, so we’re always looking for more people to join our team.

There are a number of ways you can get involved in No Nay Never. We’re predominantly known for the blog side of the site, so any enthusiastic writers are definitely welcome.

As well as this, you can get involved by helping to run the NNN live blog, taking photos for us to use on the site, speaking on the weekly NNN podcast and helping out with the technical aspects of the site.

Do you want to get involved? Get in touch!

Get in touch now

We’re incredibly grateful to anyone who gives up their time to help make the site possible and it’s extremely rewarding to be part of the team.

Giveaway winners

This Christmas season we’ve been extra generous and given away not one, but two prizes!

Congratulations to Martin, who won our retro Savile Rogue scarf, and Mark who won a pair of tickets to this afternoon’s sold out game against Liverpool on the Turf.

Those Liverpool tickets were kindly donated by Carlsberg Fan Squad. The Carlsberg Fan Squad are all about making football better for fans, and that includes making the ultimate review of the year with Carlsberg Fan Squad member Jeff Stelling.

If Carlsberg did Christmas speeches…..

Thanks again to everyone who has read, watched, listened to or contributed to NNN this year.

Merry Christmas from NNN

No Nay Never will be taking a very short break for the festive period so we wanted to take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas.

It’s been another good year for NNN, with Burnley’s promotion giving us the chance to write about Premier League football for the very first time. Long may it continue!

We were also nominated for a Football Blogging Award thanks to your votes and hopefully we can go one better next year and win.

The site and the podcast simply wouldn’t exist if you all didn’t read and listen to our rabid ramblings, so we are eternally grateful for your support.

If you want to get involved with NNN, please drop us a line on the usual email address: blog@nonaynever.net.

We’ll be back on Boxing Day with NNN Live for the sold out game against Liverpool.

Merry Christmas!

Podcast 61: An encouraging performance?

James and Adam join Jamie on this week’s podcast.

Jamie and his two guests discuss the Spurs game in detail, before moving on to discuss Danny Ings – who has this week been the subject of speculation surrounding his future.

Sam Vokes’ return to action seems to be drawing nearer and the panel all have their say on when his return to action will be, as well as talking a little about fixture congestion and squad rotation.

You can listen online here or below. To listen to all previous episodes of the NNN podcast, please visit our mini-site, where you can also find links to subscribe on iTunes. Check out our guide if you’re not sure what any of this means. If you have any feedback/questions or want to be a guest one week, please email us at the usual address: podcast@nonaynever.net.

Thanks to our sponsors Neville Gee and our editor Stephen Long.

Applause for Clarke on Boxing Day

Burnley fans are hoping and praying today that Clarke Carlisle pulls through after he was hit by a lorry early yesterday morning.

Clarke’s wife Gemma has tweeted today that he is “very poorly, but alive and stable” as he recovers in a Leeds hospital.

https://twitter.com/gemmacarlisle/status/547361969855270913

The club has backed a plan to show support for Clarke with a period of applause during the Boxing Day game at Turf Moor.

NNN supports that move too and the applause will take place from 5:00 minutes into the game to mark the number Clarke wore for Burnley.

The #SupportForClarke hashtag is also being used on Twitter.

Clarke played over 150 matches for Burnley, including a man of the match display in our promotion-winning win at Wembley in 2009.

Everyone at NNN is thinking of Clarke and his family at this time.

Clarke Carlisle – A Burnley legend

Burnley legend Clarke Carlisle is in hospital with serious injuries after he was hit by a lorry yesterday morning.

There have been conflicting reports in the media about Clarke’s condition with some sources suggesting his injuries are life-threatening and others saying this is not the case, although they are thought to be serious. The Guardian has suggested he has sustained serious spinal injuries.

At this stage we don’t believe it is fair to speculate on the details of the incident and we ask that you avoid doing that in the comments too.

Clarke is a true gentleman of the game and it was shocking for all of us at NNN when the news broke last night. So close to Christmas, this is the sort of incident that puts things into perspective. It may be a cliche, but it’s true.

On the pitch, Clarke was a colossus for Burnley and his man of the match display at Wembley in May 2009 will go down in the club’s history, along with his emotional interview on the pitch after the game.

The outpouring of messages last night showed how loved and respected Clarke is throughout the sport. Not only did he play for nine different clubs across all four divisions in a long and distinguished career, Clarke also acted as the PFA’s chairman. His burgeoning media career earned him an even larger public profile and appearances on Countdown and Question Time showed the size of his intellect and personality.

Clarke’s demons have been well publicised and a moving documentary he made for the BBC laid his mental health issues out in detail. Clarke was also good enough to give his time to appear on a special edition of our podcast to talk about his life and career. We hope Clarke pulls through and that if he does, he can get the help and support he needs.

There is talk of a gesture for Clarke at the game on Boxing Day and as soon as this is confirmed we will give out details on the site and our social media channels.

Our thoughts are with Clarke’s wife Gemma and their children today.

Please leave your messages of support for Clarke and his family below.

Sam Vokes nears comeback

After spending a prolonged period on the sidelines through injury, it seems fitting that Sam Vokes’ imminent return to the first team would be the perfect Christmas present to everyone affiliated with the club.

When the Welshman collapsed following a seemingly innocuous challenge against Leicester last season, there seemed, unfortunately, a shared belief that that would be the final viewing of Sam Vokes in a Burnley shirt for the campaign.

Ultimately, our fears were confirmed when the striker was ruled out for several months having ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. With only two recognised strikers available, Vokes’ loss threatened to slightly hamper our promotion tilt but the players responded by surging to second place.

It was a bittersweet moment for me personally to see Vokes celebrate with the squad against Wigan; he should have been at the forefront of the celebrations rather than restricted to hobbling around on crutches, but he will of course been delighted to see his teammates finish the job.

So to learn of his comeback to the development squad following a lengthy rehabilitation process is fantastic news indeed. After our initial struggles in front of goal this season – and despite a recent upturn on that front, Burnley have just 12 goals to their name this season – seeing Vokes plunder a brace against Blackpool on Monday afternoon was welcome news.

It is the third time in five games he has completed the full 90 minutes, and his fitness was always going to be the primary concern. The fact he was scored a handful of goals across those games is a welcome bonus too, although much sterner tests are to come of course for Vokes in the Premier League.

Which brings me on to the crux of this piece: will Vokes go straight back into the team, or will be forced to contend with a place on the bench?

Danny Ings’ place in the team seems secure. A recent glut of goals against Everton, Stoke and Aston Villa showed what he is capable of when afforded time and space, and he has gradually grown into his debut season at this level after early signs of frustration.

But alongside him, Ashley Barnes is an equally rich – if not better – vein of form, having scored decisive goals against Hull City and Southampton. His most recent effort against Spurs was sublime and was typical of a man playing with confidence: I doubt he’d have attempted that effort a few weeks ago.

On the contrary, Lukas Jutkiewicz and Marvin Sordell seem to be the forgotten strikers at Turf Moor and have failed to make the desired impact. During the early weeks of the season I was willing for Jutkiewicz to score – especially after looking sharp during pre-season – but unfortunately he has looked out of his depth.

The same unfortunately applies for Sordell, and while some may still be expecting Sean Dyche to wave his magic wand of rejuvenation over the former Bolton man, the prospect of a stark reversal in fortunes looks bleak.

So where does Vokes fit into this? He is certainly a better option that Juke and Sordell, but the real question is when to reintegrate him back into the first team. Some may want to see him return instantly; he enjoyed the most prolific season of his career to date last year alongside Ings, whom it’s fair to say benefits the most from having the Welshman next to him.

But like so many of our squad, Vokes is an unknown quantity at Premier League level. Four appearances while with Wolverhampton Wanderers was hardly enough to prove his worth, but if he can emulate the majority of his teammates and make the step up successfully after a run of games then I would plump for him over Barnes.

But that time is a long way away, and for now it seems logical to hand him a place on the bench. Whether that will be for the Boxing Day clash against Liverpool or one of the double-header away from home against Manchester City and Newcastle United remains to be seen, but as Dyche says, you only want a player to come back from injury once.

The gaffer is unlikely to run the risk of chucking him back into the mix with the possibility of aggravating the injury, and with Barnes proving adequate foil for Ings, we are hardly desperate to rush him back.

Whenever Dyche chooses to throw him back into the first team is something he will judge in due course, and while it may be several weeks before we the best of Vokes at this level, the timing of his return is very important indeed.

Will Vokes return to the side straight away? Comment below.