AS a player, you could tell that Graham Alexander was destined for a career in management.
His demeanour on the pitch was one of a leader, the way he looked after himself off it to prolong his playing days was an example to all.
When Owen Coyle and his staff left Turf Moor mid-season, he was one of the senior pros who stepped in to temporarily fill the void and oversee training until a replacement manager was found, such was the respect that he had from the rest of the players.
He has always been a good talker about the game too – a vocal character with his team-mates, he was equally at ease with the media. Just as well, because he has been in demand with them this week as he prepares to take his Fleetwood Town team to Wembley.
At the end of only his first full season as manager he has guided the Cod Army to Monday’s League Two play-off final.
He knows what it is like to win there, and I’m sure that privately – as the day approaches – he will be thinking back to that brilliant day with Burnley five years ago, when the Clarets won promotion to the Premier League.
I hope that he has reason to celebrate again. As for the Championship play-off finals, I fancy Queens Park Rangers to do it.
Having said that I wouldn’t be surprised if Derby County win it, so it’s all set up for an exciting final. But I hope it’s QPR who come out on top.
They have the big name players who should come to the fore on the big stage, and in Charlie Austin a striker I believe deserves to be in the Premier League.
He has had to wait for his chance after his move to Hull City, who were promoted a year ago, broke down at the 11th hour.
He went to QPR probably thinking, like the rest of us, that his Premier League dream would be put on hold for just another year. They were fully expected to go up automatically.
Who then would have thought that Burnley would go on to achieve that instead – especially after Charlie left?
But I’d love to see him get a couple of goals and fire QPR up.
He’s been given a chance and I hope he takes it.
Whatever happens, it will be great for Sean Dyche, his staff, players and all the Burnley fans to be able to watch it relaxed and with a smile on our faces after a job well done a month in advance.