Sports Editor and Titans watcher Paul Rickett looks back at the tenure of Justin Burnell at Clifton Lane. Burnell was this morning relieved of his duties after a year in charge.
JUSTIN Burnell perhaps didn’t recognise the complexities of the job at Clifton Lane when he took over just over a year ago.
The affable Welshman came to a club spiralling downtable and heading towards the murky waters of National One, replacing fellow countryman Mark Jones.
What Burnell did was implement a no-nonsense approach which rescued Rotherham from the drop — but that was as good as it got as several factors combined to again drag the club downtable this year.
At present they are flirting uncomfortably with bottom spot and could still finish with the wooden spoon although they won’t go down because of the London Welsh demise. What worries the Clifton Lane directors is next year.
There are strong mitigating circumstances in Burnell’s favour. Pretty big ones.
He did face a budget cut this year which didn’t help when it came to piecing together a squad for one of the toughest Championship seasons ever, in terms of standards and the demands of players.
That was combined with a dreadful run of injuries, the worst I’ve known in 25 years of working with the club.
And then there was, let’s be honest here, a lack of realism in some quarters. Stack a spending table alongside the final finishing positions and they’ll look pretty similar.
Burnell said last week, prior to Saturday’s defeat at Jersey: “The biggest thing I’ve learned is that the standard has gone up and so has the expenditure in the Championship.
“Clubs are spending a lot more money at the moment and the standards are going up and up.
“The players going to clubs nowadays aren’t so much students as players coming down from the Premiership. The top end of the table is packed with good players and a lot of expenditure while clubs like us have to live within our means.
“But people do look at results rather than expenditure and that’s the harsh reality in my eyes but it’s something we never really discuss. It’s what we are and what we’ve got and we just have to get on with things.”
But in the end, it’s a results business. Regardless of all the factors, after one win in 13 games that proved the damning factor.
You can catch a more in-depth analysis plus the latest on the search for a new man in this Friday’s Advertiser.
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