Brian Laws: My pain over Turf Moor exit
FORMER Burnley boss Brian Laws has described his Turf Moor sacking as the “most hurtful parting” of his career after accusing the Burnley board of not being strong enough during his troubled tenure.
The ex Clarets full back went from being the darling of the Longside during his playing days to the subject of fans ire for his 12-month spell as manager in 2010, which saw the club relegated from the Premier League.
Now, in his autobiography ‘Laws of the Jungle’, he has spoken of the hurt felt during that period and insisted Burnley were on target for their play-off objective when he was sacked in December 2010.
He admits the reaction towards him by the fans was “heartbreaking” and revealed he was asked to step down by then chairman Barry Kilby during a phone conversation from America that lasted ‘a minute’.
In the book, he wrote: “It still rankles as the most hurtful period of my career. It was the shortest phone conversation you can imagine.
“If I said it only lasted a minute that would not be overstating the case.
“We never spoke again. About an hour later, Burnley put an announcement that I was leaving. I was disappointed both with the decision and manner of it.
“I thought I had a better working relationship and understanding with the club than that. For all my love for the club over many years, this wasn’t a pleasant experience. The supporters upset me and I was dismayed at the way it ended from the club’s point of view.
“Brendan’s (Flood) reasoning was that if we lost again, the supporters would turn on the board. I thought they would have been stronger than that. We were on target for the play offs.
“Change doesn’t necessarily equal progress and what was so galling for me was that the board could have had been more supportive, especially as I was on target for our objective.”
Laws lost 22 matches of his 44 in charge at Turf and, despite challenging for a play-off spot, a 2-0 defeat at home to Scunthorpe in late December spelt the end for the manager.
He reflects though on the jeers he received at the end of the previous match, Burnley’s first win at Barnsley for 79 years, and, despite a text of support from Kilby, admits he feared the writing was on the wall.
“At the final whistle, instead of cheers, all I heard from our supporters was jeers,” he said. “That was heartbreaking. It was almost as if they were disappointed we’d won. What true supporter goes to a game with that attitude? The whole situation beggared belief.
“I wasn’t their favoured choice when I took the job. Burnley’s promotion to the Premier League had attracted a new breed of supporter and I was up against those.
“But they were willing to give me an opportunity, albeit a brief one. Their anger at Coyle’s departure was bound to be channelled somewhere and it was me who copped for it.”
In the book, which also charts his playing days at Burnley, Law described how following the defeat to Scunthorpe the boardroom door was locked and that the directors had all already left.
He said: “Any mistake by a player was seized on by supporters as an opportunity to have a go at me. Let me tell you any fan who thinks that booing will make a player better is having a laugh.
“Even at the time I went there, in mid January, the omens were stacking up against us. The team hadn’t won in the league for 10 games.
“These were not necessarily Premier League players, they were Championship players who had risen above their expectations. Eventually, there comes a stage when they are mentally drained and get demoralised. That’s what happened to Burnley.”
* Laws of the jungle was published on September 8 and has been co-written with BBC Final Score reporter Alan Biggs. It charts his days as a player at Burnley, Huddersfield, Middlesbrough and Nottingham Forest, and his management career at Grimsby, Scunthorpe, Sheffield Wednesday and Burnley.