We now know who will join Portsmouth in relegation. Hull City’s loss to Sunderland and Burnley’s drubbing by Liverpool — combined with West Ham’s dramatic 3-2 win over Wigan — means that Hull and Burnley are done.
They were the Little Team That Could. Burnley finished sixth in the Championship last year and then dispatched both Reading and Sheffield United to win promotion. They started their Premier League season in style — beating three-time defending champions Manchester United in a famous win at Turf Moor. But they only won once after October and then their manager jumped ship to Bolton. Burnley’s Premiership experiment was over. But the following players showed their mettle and should get snapped up by other outfits.
Steven Fletcher: Burnley broke their transfer record when they paid Hibs 3 million pounds for this Scotland international. Fletcher led the team in goals and has already been linked to former Scotland manager Alex McLeish at Birmingham — and to his old boss, Owen Coyle, at Bolton.
Graham Alexander: Another Englishman-turned-Jock, Alexander spent 16 years in the lower leagues before getting promoted with Burnley. A former right-back turned defensive midfielder, Alexander scored seven goals this year — although to be fair, four were penalties. Burnley’s Ironman could get find life at another Prem outfit, if only to bring some experience to the bootroom.
Wade Elliott: Burnley’s reigning player of the year, Elliott is a speedy winger who can do wonderful things with his right foot (see here and here). He gets stuck in, gives his team some width and can create goalscoring opportunities. In fact, this writer thinks Don Fabio would be better off with Elliott in South Africa than a three-initialed dunce who can’t see over the counter at the hotel.
Tyrone Mears: Sometimes good players have bad karma. This is the second time Mears’ team has gotten relegated: he was a member of that dreadful Derby County team in 2008. And although he’s English, he mistakenly thought his family was from Jamaica. He ended up playing one for the Reggae Boyz — making him uneligible for the Three Lions — until the right back found out his family came from Sierra Leone. Too bad — because deputies for the oft-injured Glen Johnson are far and few between. Mears was a bright spot on the Premier League’s most porous defence and he should get another crack at top-flight football.
Chris Eagles: He’s been called the next David Beckham and was a United player for eight years before joining the Clarets. Eagles wasn’t a regular starter this season. But at 24 years old, he’s still attracting interest from some of the bigger clubs. The best days may still be yet to come for this attacking midfielder.
Brian Jensen: This old Dane surprised many observers early on, providing heroics for the aforementioned victory over United — as well as helping those fantasy league owners who bought Jensen on the cheap. “The Beast” was a perpetual second-stringer for years and only got a regular gig after joining Burnley. He is their longest-serving player but could be pried away by a team who needs a quality keeper aka Wolves, Wigan or even Sunderland.
David Nugent: Actually, Nugent is not a Burnley player. He belongs to Portsmouth but they need to sell, sell, sell to pay Her Majesty’s government. Nugent was famously capped for England as a Preston North End player, scoring a 90th minute goal against Andorra. He is a boyhood Evertonian — and the Toffees could use another striker to take the pressure off the perpetually-injured Louis Saha.
Final look: Hull City