Ahead of Saturday’s game at Turf Moor I have interviewed Jamie Smith, the editor of popular Clarets blog No Nay Never.
It seems that Burnley have caught many, including myself, by surprise this season, did you expect a promotion push?
Nope! It’s been a lovely surprise. You always want to improve on the previous year but when you sell your best player (Charlie Austin) just before the season starts and don’t replace him, you worry a little. I didn’t expect us to struggle but a lot of the football we played under Sean Dyche last season was poor, so I thought it could be a long year.
I’m delighted to have been proven wrong though. Hardly anyone expected us to be pushing for the top six, let alone be second going into March. It’s been a phenomenal season so far but we’re hoping it carries on for a while now.
Danny Ings and Sam Vokes are obviously huge threats to Derby’s back four, but who else could be potential menaces to the Rams?
Kieran Trippier is the supply line. Even though he’s our right-back, he’s got more assists than anyone in the league. He’ll exploit any space he gets when he goes forward and his delivery is typically excellent. He fancies himself as a free-kick taker as well but he’s only scored one so far. Trippier is excellent defensively too and I don’t think it’s looking too far ahead to suggest he could be a future England international.
Ings and Vokes are our main goal threats though. Vokes is absolutely dominant in the air and Ings scores all types of goals from nothing, so your back line will have its hands full despite a good run of clean sheets recently.
When Jason Shackell moved to Turf Moor in 2012 many Rams fans were angered, how has he performed since?
He had a pretty slow start, but apparently he was carrying an injury at the time. Since he’s shaken that off he’s been a colossus at the back and £1 million looks like an absolute steal. He reads the game brilliantly, organises the side from the back and is possible the best all-round defender I’ve seen play for us in 20 years. He’s that good. Our back five is very settled and Shackell is an 8/10 player every week.
Frankly I’m amazed he’s playing for us. He looks good enough for the Premier League to me. If we don’t go up, he’ll probably leave.
The Clarets have been quite a bogey side for the Rams, what is your match prediction and promotion predictions?
We were absolutely magnificent in the first half against Forest last week, 3-0 up at the break and it could have been more. If we start like that on Saturday I can’t see Derby stopping us. But I’m wary of Patrick Bamford and Will Hughes and Steve McClaren will have you organised, so I’m not expecting us to blow you away like we did to Forest.
I hope we can get a win, but a draw wouldn’t be a disaster given the stage of the season. If either team wins you’d have to say they become favourites for promotion, especially as we open a nice gap if we get the points. I’m sure there are twists and turns to come yet, but it looks like us or you for second right now, so it could be a winner-takes-all occasion.
Most Burnley fans will have their fingers crossed Lee Grant makes a rick at some point. He was excellent for us last season but is certainly capable of a match-losing error.
I’m going to sit on the fence and say it’ll be 2-2 on Saturday and promotion will be decided on the last day.
Thank you to Jamie for taking the time to answer the questions.