Brian Laws - January 2010 to December 2010

Last updated : 13 October 2011 By Tony Scholes

We have to go back to the very beginning of his time as Burnley boss and how difficult it was for him right from day one. He was appointed on 13th January just five days after Owen Coyle had been officially confirmed as the new Bolton Wanderers manager.

Depending on how you look at things, depending on whether you glass is half full or half empty, we were enjoying our first Premier League season and were in 14th place or we were just three points above the drop zone with Bolton having three games in hand and we'd gone nine games without a win.

My thoughts were that it would be very difficult for us to stay up but certainly our best chance was lost when we were forced into a change of manager. Coyle had a chance of doing it; I don't think any replacement had that opportunity.

Laws arrived without anything like the support he might have wished for. He'd not long previously been sacked by struggling Sheffield Wednesday and the appointment was considered by many Burnley supporters to be a cheap option.

I have to admit to having been surprised at the choice although as other, more experienced candidates, dropped out I'm not sure who I'd have gone for.

It was Laws though, a returning Claret from the early 80s and he'd been a very popular player during his time at Burnley, boosted by the fact that he'd left under John Bond's management.

He received a brilliant reception at Old Trafford as he got the toughest of baptisms against Manchester United in his first game. There were banners and chants proclaiming "Brian Laws' Claret and Blue Army" as you would expect.

We lost the game 3-0 and then faced Coyle's Bolton in his next game, losing this one 1-0 having lost the midfield to injury in the first quarter of an hour. After a home defeat to Chelsea, Laws finally got his first win, a somewhat fortunate one, against West Ham and things weren't looking too bad.

Then came a shocker of a run when his stock fell. Maybe the support had been building for him slightly but it plummeted as none of the next nine games were won. We were unfortunate in some of them, none more so than the 1-0 defeat at Wigan and the way we were cheated by Blackburn Rovers.

Alongside that though, we lost vital home games against both Portsmouth and Wolves. Then came the mother of all calamities with the 6-1 home defeat against Manchester City. We were 3-0 down before we'd got our seats warm and then there was 'McDonald Gate' to add to all that.

Two wins in the last five games, including our only away win in the Premier League at Hull, persuaded the board to continue with him and there was some evidence that the fans might give him a chance as the 2010/11 season got underway in the Championship.

It all started reasonably enough, but there were problems ahead. We couldn't win away from home although we weren't losing them too often. At one stage we drew five successive away league games and that was just about good enough to keep us in the play off positions because of a fantastic start, results wise, at home.

Strangely, at times, the performances were much better on the road. So often the luck deserted us but there again we were often on the better side of good fortune in home games to balance things out.

There were no real complaints about draws at such as Ipswich and QPR but it was the draws at Sheffield United and Norwich that put him under the most pressure with us surrendering two goal leads and conceding the last goals in the last minute of stoppage time in both games.

Add that to the defeats at Reading (2009/10 FA Cup), Wigan in the Premier League and the Championship game at Middlesbrough and we'd conceded late, late goals on five separate occasions on the road.

The pressure was building and it was highlighted again when McDonald went to Scunthorpe on loan, bringing back to the forefront his antics at that Manchester City game. There had been rumours of such as Steven Caldwell and Robbie Blake having problems with Laws and then of course there was the much publicised outburst from Joey Gudjonsson.

Rumours never went away that the manager didn't have the support of the dressing room but Laws was always quick to confirm there were no problems and there was a fantastic team spirit. He told the shareholders that at the club's AGM in December 2010 during an attack on the Lancashire Telegraph when he looked very agitated. The cracks were really beginning to show.

It came just two days after the home defeat against Leeds with speculation mounting that he could be on his way. We'd stopped drawing games by then and were in a run of winning one and losing one, but without a perfect home record we were going to slide because of our inability to win away from home.

That Leeds defeat was followed by the most remarkable of victories against all the odds at Barnsley. It was our first win there in almost 79 years and we don't win very often on Boxing Day either. It was a real home banker.

Laws had never suffered too much from the Burnley crowd during games. The chanting of his name had stopped but overall, certainly away from home, there was little audible criticism.

There had been some in the previous away game at Coventry but at Barnsley it was awful. It was a reminder of that shocking day at Norwich in 2006 when the home fans turned horribly on Nigel Worthington. It was something I never wanted to hear from Burnley fans but here I was sat right in the middle of it.

Needless to say, it all came at 1-0 down and, although it might not have been forgotten, it had certainly died down completely once we'd gone 2-1 up. The stay of execution wasn't to last long.

Two days later came the home game against Scunthorpe. If I was to compare it with one game under each of the previous managers it would be Hull at home in November 2007 and Blackpool away on New Year's Day 2008 for Steve Cotterill and Coyle.

The Blackpool game was very early in Coyle's time at Burnley and was, very much, a one off, but the Hull game proved to be Cotterill's last as Burnley manager. Those two games were shockers and so was this Scunthorpe game.

You sensed the writing just had to be on the wall and it didn't take long. The axe fell the following afternoon. Laws had been sacked just two weeks short of a year into his contract.

It was inevitable; his position had become untenable. It is fair to say that some never really gave him a chance but in truth he never really showed anything that would get the fans on side.

On the few occasions I was in his company I found Brian Laws to be a very decent man and there is no doubt at all he cares passionately about Burnley Football Club. I recall having a meeting with him on the Monday after relegation had been confirmed a day earlier with the defeat to Liverpool. It was so obvious just how much it meant to him, but he was at Turf Moor to manage the team and get results and that didn't happen anything like often enough, not even after relegation. Of 40 league games in charge he won only 11 and in the days of three points for a win only John Benson has a worse return in terms of points per game.

In the end he wasn't the right appointment in January 2010. As someone said just before he left, "It just isn't working." It didn't work for Burnley and it didn't work for Laws. It wasn't right.