This season, Liverpool's debt-ridden finances and the current state of the world transfer market are up against Rafa, who was quoted in
Thanks to his sole piece of business this summer, Benítez is doing his own bit toward inflating the market with the signing of fullback
So what can Benítez learn from his Big Four compatriots? The lesson emanating from his big rivals in the Northwest is to be canny in the transfer market. Manchester United is flush with money after
Unlike some other big European clubs, Sir
Chelsea is seemingly willing to throw money around in a way Benítez currently only dreams of doing. After apparently making failed mega-money bids for AC Milan's
In North London, Arsenal's mantra is don't spend money if you haven't got it. Arsenal chief executive
Manchester City is dominating the back pages with its attempts to simultaneously attract marquee signings Terry,
City executive chairman
In this column, we present the first of three profiles introducing the new members of the English Premier League. West Bromwich Albion, Middlesbrough and Newcastle United finished in the bottom three places of the EPL last year and were subsequently relegated to the Championship, the second tier of English soccer. Coming the other way are Wolverhampton Wanderers, Birmingham City and Burnley.
Burnley (population 88,500) is, by far, the smallest city in the EPL. The former cotton-weaving town, nestled high in the Pennine moors, is only 30 miles north of Manchester (population 2.5 million), but when it comes to soccer, Clarets fans look only one way: 10 miles west to the arch rival Blackburn Rovers.
Burnley's trip to Ewood Park on Oct. 17, the 96th East Lancashire derby, will be the pair's first top-flight affair since 1966 and only the fifth time the sides have met since '83. Undeniably small-town, it's not a classic North London, Merseyside, Manchester or Glasgow derby -- but don't underestimate the passion and friction involved in this raw heart-on-the-sleeve clash.
Burnley last played top-flight soccer in '76, but that statistic belies a proud history that, like Blackburn's, dates back to being one of the 12 founding members of the Football League, the world's first, in 1888. Indeed, the '09-10 season marks the 50th anniversary of Burnley's last league title, the second in its history. Also in the trophy cabinet is an FA Cup.
But there have been lows, too. Burnley finished sixth in the top flight in '74 before suffering a decade-long decline that saw it relegated all the way down to the fourth and lowest division of English professional soccer. The absolute nadir came on May 9, 1987, when a 2-1 season-ending win over Leyton Orient saved the Clarets from relegation out of the professional league. They had finished 84 places below their '74 position.
Careful commercial management saw Burnley rise again through the leagues, and re-establish itself in the second tier from '00. Burnley was back in the top half of the league structure -- but in the present money-driven climate, few thought that promotion to the EPL was likely for a club with a limited fan base. To fly the flag for all small-town dreamers would require a touch of magic. It arrived on Nov. 22, 2007, in the shape of new manager
Coyle, a teetotaler, perennial optimist and soccer obsessive transformed the team. Former regular for Manchester United and the English national team
Burnley's single hope this season is to stay in the EPL. Its current squad won't achieve that feat, and it will require many astute signings on a limited budget. Even so, Coyle may have to show exactly why Glasgow Celtic tried to attract him last month.