Coyle stays upbeat on home turf

Manager insists fans can lift Burnley to bounce back from poor away results
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The Independent Football

Owen Coyle insists that the mood in the Burnley camp is still buoyant despite their 5-0 hammering at Tottenham last weekend.

The Clarets host Birmingham in the Barclays Premier League tomorrow looking to recover their composure after being humbled at White Hart Lane, their fourth straight away defeat in the league since their promotion to the top flight.

Steven Fletcher was unlucky to have a goal ruled out for offside when the score was still 1-0, but Robbie Keane was chief destroyer on the day, hitting four past Brian Jensen in the Burnley goal.

The team's dismal form on the road, conceding 14 goals and scoring none, has threatened to undermine an otherwise impressive start to the campaign, with three home wins out of three. But Coyle said there had been no need to try to raise the spirits of his squad and praised the way they had approached their tricky sequence of opening fixtures.

"It is never difficult to lift my group of players," Coyle said. "We have lost a game at Tottenham Hotspur, and there is no disrespect in that. We are annoyed at the manner in which we conceded the goals, but we offered an awful lot to the game, scored a very good goal which was clearly not offside as the linesman thought it was, and that would have put us in the game at one each.

"But that's behind us now, we've picked ourselves up and we are ready to go on Saturday at home to Birmingham. There are no tactical changes that are needed – we have nine points and nobody would have envisaged that that would happen. We didn't get them by accident, we got them going out and earning them, playing the right way as we have done, at home – and away."

Turf Moor is rapidly turning into a fortress and Coyle was keen to highlight the role of the fans in Burnley's success. "We've got good footballers and we've got a good team, but that is allied to the fact that we have got a tremendous atmosphere here – the fans play their part," Coyle said. "I've got no doubt that they are the best fans in the league. You only have to look at the percentage of the population of the town that comes out to support Burnley to tell you that they are.

"In terms of percentage of population, we are the best supported team in world football. That's how important the fans are to the club and the players know that, and try to do everything in their power to give them results. It's very much a collective effort."

Birmingham came up from the Championship with Burnley last year and Coyle praised the job done at St Andrew's by his compatriot and friend, Alex McLeish, who was his manager at Motherwell in the 1990s.

"Alex is a personal friend of mine and I have got a lot to thank him for in my career. He's doing a fantastic job at Birmingham," Coyle said. "When you think of all the talk of takeovers and everything else, he's not let that affect anybody, he's got them playing some terrific football this season and there is no doubt that they have settled into Premier League life.

"Birmingham have a fantastic manager and he'll do his utmost to keep them up. I'll concern myself with Burnley, but I'm always looking out for my friends and how they are doing and I have no doubt that Alex will do fantastically at Birmingham."

The Burnley captain, Steven Caldwell, played for an hour for the reserves this week and is finally in contention for a starting spot, having missed the entire season so far because of a groin injury.

Coyle said the defender's return would provide a real boost to the team. "He's been an integral part of what we are doing at the football club from day one with me," Coyle said. "He's my captain for a number of reasons – what he does on the park as a player, the way he is as a man and the way he conducts himself. He is a real leader and it is always nice to have your captain fit and available."