Burnley progress, we’re playing the Blades next year!

Thanks to a spectacular finish from Wade Elliott was all it took to send Burnley to Premier League delirium this afternoon.  Indeed, a bit more composure (and less heroic blocks from Blades defenders) could’ve made it more comfortable for the Clarets.

Owen Coyle’s dark horses have gone the distance and won promotion – having watched the game I don’t think the Blades can have too many complaints.  Whilst they have a chip on their shoulder about the referee he didn’t do much wrong today – indeed, it was quite disappointing to see the Sheffield side resort to diving and pleading for handballs and generally acting like Warnock was in charge again.

So we get to resume our recently rekindled rivalry with the Blades next season, whilst Burnley will be seeking to emulate Stoke and Hull in confounding the pundits and somehow retaining their Premier League status.  Watching the game made me nostalgic and full of regret that instead of making permanent the signing of Robbie Blake, we ended up with David Johnson.

Congratulations to Burnley, certainly we saw how deadly they can be (and indeed how rubbish we can be!) last season, and commisserations to Sheffield United who don’t seem to fare well in Play Off finals – knowing all too well how much it hurts to go out in the semi-finals I can’t imagine the heartache a fan goes through losing at Wembley.

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A North-East double join West Brom in relegation..

sheerahThere is now but one opponent to be decided after yesterday’s glibly titled ‘Survival Sunday.’  An off-target Gareth Barry strike deflected off Damien Duff to give Aston Villa the only goal of the game, thus ensuring results elsewhere didn’t matter – the Toon Army were guaranteed a shambolic march into the Championship along with Middlesbrough, who lost to West Ham.  Hull and Sunderland breathed a sigh of relief as Newcastle’s fall meant their own defeats to Manchester United and Chelsea didn’t really matter.

It’s hard not to be taken up by the national amusement at the fall of the North East ‘giants’ – the media love to point their cameras at overweight shirtless Geordies – and there were plenty on show in floods of tears at Villa Park yesterday.  Certainly years of fundamental mismanagement have taken their toll, and provided the Championship with a fixture that everyone is looking out for.

Whether Mike Ashley will try again to cut his losses and sell the increasingly less valuable monkey on his back, whether Shearer – the latest ‘messiah’ the Magpies have turned to – will stay to try to lead the side to promotion, is very unclear.  Certainly from the top, to the management to hapless players on the pitch, Newcastle certain earn their tag as a national laughing stock in football.

The Villa fans summed it up rather well with this slightly cruel, but well observed banner:

However, I can’t quite revel in too much joy over it – certainly I have little sympathy either.  If ever there was a club that could use a healthy dose of reality it is Newcastle United – certainly they will get it, indeed, a season or more in the Championship might reaffirm their self-stylings as ‘a big club’ – because games against them will be treated akin to cup finals by many of us mere minnows in The Championship.

It will require a degree of resilience, passion and endeavour for them to succeed – and on current showings, they don’t seem to have much of that going for them.  Of course, some degree of wholesale personnel changes will be taking place – it will be certainly be interesting to observe their progress, and I’m not too two-faced to admit that I’m really looking forward to a trip to St. James’ Park next season.

Scunthorpe were celebrating too yesterday, after triumphing in a thrilling play off final against Millwall, scoring the winning goal with only five minutes remaining having been 1-0 up, then level, then 2-1 down.  Big congratulations to the Iron, who showed great resilience to eventually get past the Lions.  Poor Gary Alexander must be kicking himself after scoring twice for the London side before missing a sitter at 2-2 that would surely have won Millwall promotion.

The only business left to be decided is whether it is Sheffield United or Burnley who remain in the Championship.  I’m not exactly a fan of either team so it’s a tricky one to state a preference over, although I do greatly admire Owen Coyles work at Burnley I can’t quite get out of my head the numerous unpleasant trips I’ve had to Turf Moor, and well, all of us have a healthy dislike of Sheffield United don’t we?  I think this is as close to a ‘don’t care’ game as I’ve found so far at the end of this season.