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Pressure's nothing new at the Turf, says ex-Claret Barnes
PAUL Barnes scored a hat-trick the last time Burnley beat today’s opponent’s Peterborough United.
It’s perhaps odd that he doesn’t recall it. Until you come to realise that it was his third that season, and second in three games after claiming the match ball against Blackpool at Bloomfield Road.
The striker was making up for lost time after getting off to a difficult start following his £400,000 transfer from Birmingham City in the first month of 1996/97 season.
If the price tag wasn’t pressure enough, a run of eight games without a goal made it pile up on the poacher.
But after the drought, the floodgates opened.
“I got five against Stockport,” Barnes recalled.
“Mark Winstanley had been giving me a lot of stick because it had taken me a while to start scoring so it was nice to get that over with.
“It’s a footballing town so there was pressure there. It wasn’t like I came on a free transfer – Burnley paid a lot of money for me.
“But those goals got me kick-started for what was one of my best seasons in football.”
He hopes the Clarets can kick-start their season this afternoon, after the memorable opening day win over Bolton proved to be a false dawn.
But although a run of three straight league defeats has given cause for concern, Barnes has warned against pushing the panic button at this early stage of the season.
“Realistically let’s have a look around Christmas time,” he said.
“Everyone wants a great start, but the stronger clubs keep going and come to the top, and I’m sure it will be that way around for Burnley.
“Hopefully they can get a good result to day to get back on track.
“I live in Leicester, so I’m not far from Peterborough and I know they’re struggling for form.
“They’re desperate for points, so it would be nice for Burnley to get an early goal and calms any nerves that there might be among the players or the fans.
“The longer the game goes without a goal the Burnley fans can put pressure.
“I live in Leicester and follow them, and if they’re not a goal up in the first 15 to 20 minutes you do hear the rumblings in the crowd, and that can transfer on to the pitch.
“Burnley are honest fans who demand a lot from their team. If they see the players giving their all they accept that.
“A lot of northern clubs are like that. And I don’t think it’s too much to ask.”
Now living in the East Midlands, Barnes doesn’t get to many Burnley games but will be in the crowd when the Clarets take on Leicester City in their next game at the King Power Stadium on Wednesday.
His son Harvey, an attacking midfielder, is on the Foxes’ books in their Academy and is a ball boy at home games.
“It should be a good game,” said Barnes. “Leicester had a good win over Blackpool, which they needed for confidence.”
After a 2-0 home win over Peterborough on the opening day of the Championship the Foxes had gone on to lose at newly promoted Charlton Athletic and newly relegated Blackburn Rovers, before being knocked out of the Carling Cup by Burton Albion.
“Although they’d played some good football they’d not got the result they deserved and hadn’t had a great start,” he continued.
“Leicester fans are like Burnley fans in demanding a lot from their team.
“I’ve watched a few Burnley-Leicester games over the years and they are usually tight games. There might be the odd goal either way.
“Nigel Pearson runs a right ship so it’s normally a 1-0 or a 2-1 scoreline.
“They don’t tend to score many but don’t usually concede many either.”
But Barnes believes Leicester should be fearful of Charlie Austin and Martin Paterson.
“They both look like natural goalscorers – Charlie Austin especially,” said the 44-year-old, who eight years after hanging up his boots has undergone a career change, from football to finance, as a broker.
“I remember seeing Pato at Scunthorpe and he looked a real livewire with a threat of goals.
“Neither of them are shy – they know where the net is.”
Barnes admits he would settle for either of them following in his footsteps with a hat-trick at home to Peterborough today.
“That would be nice,” he said.
“Only on Saturday, not against Leicester. Unless it’s 3-3. I’d take that!”