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Day of destiny for the real footballer of the year

Posted on 8 March 2009 | 9:03am

Unstoppable Manchester United have secured 65 out of a possible 81 Premier League points so far this season. But who comes second in the list of those who have taken most points (proportionately) from top flight opposition? Yes, you’ve guessed it, the club whose colours explain the claret and blue of this website, namely Burnley FC.

We have played seven games against Premier League sides in our two Cup runs. Won 5 (ok, one of them after extra time and penalties, but it was away to Chelsea so I’m still taking three points from that  that, while for our 3-0 win against Spurs I’m ignoring extra time because it was a travesty) lost one (Spurs away) drawn one (West Brom before we put them out in the replay.) Throw in home wins against Arsenal and Fulham and you can see why it should be us, not Chelsea or Liverpool who qualify for the second automatic Champions League slot.

Today we are at Arsenal for the FA Cup and waking to a lovely day gave me that same feeling I had when we played them in vile weather at home – that if we are at our best, and they have a bit of an off day, we can nick it. Alex Ferguson came to the Carling Cup game (obviously looking to buy some of our players) and after ten minutes he said we were playing the only way to play against Arsenal – high tempo, in their faces, don’t let them settle. I hope we play the same way today, even against what will be a better side than the one we played at Turf Moor.

Of course it is entirely possible that they play at the top of their game, in which case we may be in trouble, but my real worry relates to the fact we have a small squad and today’s is our 48th game of the season. I think I am right in saying by tonight we will have played more games than any other club in England.

I saw an interview with Manchester United’s Michael Carrick yesterday who said that ‘of course’ all the clubs now rotate their players to that they get proper rest periods. But some clubs have no choice but to play the players they’ve got. That is why, much as I can see the case for Vidic  or Giggs being Footballer of the Year, if we were really about honouring greatness in footballers, we would look no further than Graham Alexander. He has played every single minute of every single game, and he is just two and a half years from his fortieth birthday. Talk about a model pro.

I’m already biased for Grezza, as they call him, because he was part of one of the best football experiences of my life, when Scotland beat France in Paris the night James McFadden scored his wonder goal.

 Burnley fans have already had more great moments this season than we have had during whole decades that I’ve followed them. Fingers crossed for another one today. And can we please stand. Standing fans make more noise. Players play better with more support.

Win, draw or lose, at least I won’t have a four hour drive back home, and whatever happens I think we’ll still be ahead of Arsenal in the (proportionate) race for one of the four automatic CL slots. In Owen Coyle we trust.

  • Judith Haire

    For once in my life I want Burnley to win today. And, you probably wouldn’t have written a blog like this today had Jose not left Chelsea.

  • Calum

    Totally agree about standing. Most Premiership fans stand at away games wheras in the Championship it is a bit hit and miss, but there is no doubt at the games where we have stood this year we have created a better atmosphere and you can see the players respond to that.

  • Marcus Dillistone

    Overwhelming anticipation of today’s events led to you misspelling your own name! Yet I could quote stats to prove that you spell your name correcttly 100% of the time!

    I therefore suggest that the stats be forgotten, and let the football commence… one pitch, one ball, two goals, and 11 men vs 11 men. The rest is just clutter on the radar.

  • Omar Markos

    Burnley is my second club. Have really enjoyed seeing their games on telly this year. I live near Arsenal ground and have managed to get a ticket and will be there cheering for Burnley

  • Peter

    Have restricted my exposure to AC to occasional looks at this blog. No more FB – AC’s incessant name-dropping was making me ill.

  • Grant

    Sorry Alastair! The Gooners did it – never mind, I’m sure you can get a box and support Arsenal in the final…

  • mikey

    hi Ali.and never forget the best goal in history….Alex Elder with his trusty right foot…..” Adam you missed it “

  • David Townsend

    I’ve just wasted 3 minutes reading the Guardian interview: I don’t know why I did that when I have the car to clean. You haven’t changed one bit despite all the breakdowns. You’re still the same self regarding prick you always were.

  • Alan Quinn

    It always makes me laugh about footballers being “tired”. I started watching non league FC United of Manchester after the Glazer takeover, last season they played 8 games in 21 days due to a fixture pile up as well as full time work. Our captain, Chaddy is a window fitter, he was working in Worksop and travelled to Wakefield for a mid week fixture after work. He then went home to Wigan after the game only to be back on site at Worksop for 7am.