Thursday, 3 September 2009

Burnley: David Nugent move was a huge surprise

I honestly thought we'd done our deals. I couldn't see anyone leaving and I didn't think we'd be able to bring anyone in either. Hull's Daniel Cousin was the one the papers were linking us to, but that one was never likely once Benjani turned down a move to Humberside.

But Owen Coyle pulled a rabbit out of the hat in the form of a 24-year-old England international (and goal scorer). It's easy to forget that David Nugent picked up an international cap, scoring a stolen tap in on his one and only appearance against Andorra. This was before his move to Portsmouth though, where his career has stalled somewhat.

Nugent always looked a class above at Preston North End in the Championship, but his credentials at the top level were always going to be in doubt. He's not particularly quick, strong or prolific. But he is creative and a good finisher. I'd compare him to David Healy, in that he's not really had a fair crack at the Premier League whip. I imagine he will be a regular starter for us, so it will be interesting to see how he copes with the adjustment.

We almost signed Nugent from Bury a few years back, but he chose to go to North End instead. That makes him the third former North Ender in our squad, and he joins Graham Alexander as an ex-Lilywhite that turned us down earlier in his career. If he's half as successful as Alexander, we'll have made a cracking signing.

It's low risk for us too, signing him on a six-month loan. If he's doing well, we can sort out a permanent deal in the January transfer window, but if he struggles, we can get rid and replace him with someone else.

We saw on Saturday how tough goals are going to be to score away from home. Chelsea outclassed us in every department with one of the best displays of fluid attacking football I've ever seen. The midfield diamond sparkled, but the full backs were most impressive, bombing up and down the flanks, causing all sorts of problems for the men charged with tracking the runners inside. If it had been another team on the end of the hiding they dished out, I would have felt honoured to have seen it.

But despite the relative ease of the match for Chelsea, we could and should have led early on, and then who knows what could have happened. Martin Paterson missed a glorious chance just ten minutes in, and the match could have taken on a completely new complexion had he not pulled his shot wide.

We seem to have learned our lesson from the slack marking at set pieces at Stoke that cost us, but we must also start burying our chances, especially on the road. We won't get many. It's Anfield next for the Clarets, after an international break we'll hopefully come through unscathed.

It's never made any sense to me to have managers rushing around sorting deals the day before two weeks off, and it would be a disaster for us if Steven Fletcher or Martin Paterson came back from duty with an injury. But Liverpool are more likely to have someone pick up a knock playing for their country than us! They've looked shaky so far, the complete opposite to Chelsea's assured displays, and if we perform to our best, we could come up with another shock result.

This piece was written for Fanzone TimesOnline.

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