PROMOTION at Turf Moor would be the “perfect way to mark the perfect season”, says ex-Claret David Unsworth, adding that Burnley’s seemingly imminent top flight return is “brilliant for football”.
With Sean Dyche’s side on the brink of promotion and Wigan closing in on a play-off place Unsworth, who played for both clubs, feels he is in a win-win situation for today’s Easter Monday head-to-head.
And while he knows the Latics will not make it easy for Burnley to cross the line today, he expects the Clarets to have enough to clinch a top flight return.
And the 40-year-old could not think of a better place to confirm their Premier League place than Turf Moor.
“I’m actually delighted they didn’t do it at Blackpool because to go up at your home ground means more, to me. It’s more special,” said Unsworth, who says the Clarets deserve to have promotion on their own terms, rather than relying on favours from elsewhere.
“I got promoted from the Championship to the Premier League with Sheffield United and we went up through Reading beating Leeds United. We went up when we didn’t even play and it was strange,” he added.
“The lads were all together at the training ground and we were sat there watching Sky Sports and Jeff Stelling.
“Reading won and we went up through that result.
“It was great – it was fantastic! But to hopefully get the result that takes Burnley back up, that’s what you want as a player.
“And for everyone to be a part of it, that’s just terrific – not just the players and management but the club staff, the youth players will all be there, all the fans – it’s just perfect. It’s been a perfect season.”
Unsworth feels it will be am occasion better than the Clarets play-off success in 2008/09, when a Wade Elliott goal was enough to beat another of his former clubs, the Blades.
“Don’t get me wrong, Owen Coyle and his team that year did a good job, but the play-offs are a lottery – once you get there it’s like a cup competition almost,” said Unsworth.
“For Burnley to get automatic promotion this year is a bigger achievement than five years ago.”
But similarly to that play-off winning season, Unsworth says the Clarets will have defied modern day football logic and put the small-town club back on the map.
“The story of Burnley is brilliant for football. It’s what players dream about. It’s what coaches and managers dream about – the team that has no right financially to win actually defies the odds and gets promoted,” he added.
“That’s why we are all in football.
“These are the happenings that nobody can ever predict, and as a Burnley fan this year you’ve lived the dream.”
But he knows that FA Cup semi-finalists Wigan will not be a pushover in Burnley’s bid to secure that second automatic promotion slot today.
“Wigan won’t make it easy, they are a good team and a team I know a lot about because we’ve a player there on loan from Everton,” said the former Everton defender, who returned to Goodison Park this season as youth team coach.
“I know Uwe Rosler very well, and his coaching staff having been there as a player. They’re on a great run and I fancy them to go up in the play-offs.
“They won’t be gung-ho or end-to-end. They’ll look to have a lot of possession and it might be a game where Burnley hit them on the counter attack.
“From what I’ve seen of Wigan this season Burnley will have to be patient and bide their time because they are a threat.
“But the occasion will probably be too much for Wigan.
“I’ve got great affection for both clubs so for Burnley to go up automatically and Wigan in the play-offs, I can’t lose, and it would be great to see.”
While Sean Dyche is being tipped for the manager of the year prize, Unsworth credits an all-round team effort.
“I can’t speak highly enough of the job that everyone has done,” he said.
“I’m not going to single anyone out, it’s been a massive team effort and it’s great to see.
“It’s been a brilliant all-round club performance – from the manager to the players to the fans to the boardroom. What they’ve done is terrific.
“I can’t wait to see Burnley at Goodison Park next season.”