Burnley 1 Newcastle Utd 2
In the end, there was no need for the extra security in case fans invaded. Burnley assigned a steward for every player and backroom staff member, as staying up would have led to a party on the pitch.
At the final whistle, with relegation confirmed after six seasons in the Premier League, there were a few groans, applause for the efforts of the players and Kieran Trippier got waved off on his return to Turf Moor. There was an acceptance: Burnley were down and they probably deserved it.
Supporters had been given a glimmer of hope in the second half when news filtered through of Leeds conceding an equaliser at Brentford. After Callum Wilson’s two goals, Maxwel Cornet had levelled and it looked like one goal could keep Burnley up. The goal never came and Leeds’ late winner meant they would have been consigned to the Championship even if they scored.
The big question is where Burnley go from here. Mike Jackson gave them a chance of survival by overseeing 11 points in eight games but the interim manager is likely to be replaced.
“There will have to be a reflection and then small steps to find your way back,” he said. “That is what you have to do. I am not really bothered about myself. I know how I feel and that I’ll suffer but I’m more gutted for the group and the fans after working so closely and seeing how much they put in. It hurts you and it will stay with me forever.”
In the short term, the club’s ALK Capital owners will need to pay back a significant chunk of the £65m loan they took out to buy the club 18 months ago.
During that time in charge, chairman Alan Pace has attempted to expand the Burnley brand. There is a “Business Club” for members to watch games in private boxes next to the Jimmy McIlroy Stand. And there are electronic advertising hoardings around the ground. But the most important part is status as a Premier League club.
The club refused questions on finances, but Jackson was asked whether Burnley was in good hands. “Why wouldn’t it be? There are good people here who want to do well and want to bounce back but it is small steps, planning and having everything in place to do that.”
Pace will need to recruit a manager who knows his way around the Championship. James Tarkowski is set to leave on a free transfer, while Nick Pope and Dwight McNeil have Premier League clubs interested in keeping them in the top flight. So they will need shrewd investment in players to give them a chance of promotion.
“I can only apologise we’ve not done enough this season,” said Tarkowski. “We’re devastated but over the season we’ve not been good enough. We need to be better than we have been and we’ve got our just rewards by not doing enough. We have had too many sloppy moments and not won enough matches.”
In contrast, Newcastle’s fans were jubilant after finishing the season as one of the Premier League’s form teams. They were relegation rivals for Burnley when Eddie Howe took over but finish 11th. For Howe there were mixed emotions. He was emotional in the dressing room when he thanked his players for an excellent second half of the season, but had also sent down his former club.
“It was difficult for me as I have an attachment to the club and it hurts seeing the club relegated,” Howe said. “I know the emotions that come with it.” Howe also saw Joelinton carried off after a deep cut to his ankle, with the club doctor seeing the Brazilian’s bone.
Newcastle were given a huge helping hand with their opener, with Nathan Collins needlessly punching the ball from a corner, with Wilson scoring from the penalty spot for his first goal since returning from a calf injury.
Collins was playing at right-back for the first time this season and his head went after the penalty. He almost scored an own goal when a clearance went in the wrong direction, and it was a surprise that Connor Roberts was taken off instead of him.
“Nathan is devastated but I won’t criticise him,” said Jackson. “I am sure I‘ll see him in the future going from strength to strength. I won’t blame him.”
Wilson’s second came from Collins’ flank, with Allan Saint-Maximin’s assist threaded through three Burnley defenders to allow his team-mate to tap home.
“Good luck in the Championship,” chanted the Newcastle supporters. Burnley got back in the game through Cornet, volleying powerfully into the bottom corner after Martin Dubravka saved his initial effort. But it was not enough despite late surges forward.
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