Michael Duff eager to impress new boss Howe

Michael Duff
Michael Duff
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AFTER breaking back into the Burnley side, Michael Duff eager to impress new boss Eddie Howe.

Duff has started the last four games under caretaker Stuart Gray, following the departure of Brian Laws.

And after helping keep the side’s first clean sheet in 15 games in the 0-0 draw with leaders QPR on Saturday, Duff is hoping to hold onto the shirt.

But he knows the whole squad start with a clean slate under the new manager, and the long-serving defender expects a tough battle: “That’s football – people come, people go.

“You do get used to it.

“It’s the same with players.

“People have opinions of you whether they want you to play for them or whether they don’t.

“I’ll be no different to any other player when a new manager comes in.

“I want to make a good impression and hopefully he’ll want to play me, same as everyone else in the dressing room.”

Duff was signed by his former Cheltenham Town boss Steve Cotterill shortly after his appointment in the summer of 2004, and has seen a number of teams constructed since, playing under Owen Coyle, Laws and now Gray, and Duff added: “I think this is the third or fourth team that’s been built since I’ve been here.

“It’s just the way it is, and everyone will be looking to impress the new manager.

“Wade (Elliott) knows the manager from Bournemouth, and I was on my A-licence course with the assistant manager (Jason Tindall) so I sort of know him a little bit.

“I’m sure he’ll come in and stamp what he wants us to do.

“I can’t really comment because I don’t know the guy at all.

“All I can do is hopefully make a good impression and he’ll play me!

“From a players’ point of view it’s hard for me to comment on who the club appoint because it’s got nothing to do with me. I’ll play for whoever takes the team.

“Stuart’s come in and taken charge, and I think he’s shown with the performances in the four games he’s been in charge, the lads have given him everything.

“I’m sure everyone will give the new manager 100 per cent the same.”

And Duff feels that Howe inherits a squad ghood enough to challenge for promotion, albeit the season needs reigniting, with Burnley six points from the play-off positions: “We’ve proved, sporadically, during the season we’re a good team and we’ve got a good squad.

“The disappointing thing has been the consistency.

“We haven’t put back to back wins together in the league and it’s not good enough really for the squad of players that we’ve got.

“We can’t keep talking about what a good squad we’ve got and finish 10th at the end of the season. We need to start putting back to back wins together.”

He hopes Howe can give the squad a lift and fresh impetus: “There’s often a boost because it’s a clean slate for everybody.

“Everyone’s going to try to impress the manager and make him pick you.

“In the four games since Stuart’s taken over there have been some good performances. We lost at Reading but we played very, very well. It was a case of individual error again. I’m sure everyone will be chomping at the bit when the new manager comes in.”

Howe at least comes in on the back of a shut out against the leaders, ahead of his first game at the helm in Saturday’s televised game at Scunthorpe.

And Duff was delighted with the clean sheet: “For a defender, any clean sheet’s a good clean sheet.

“When we score four goals like we have done for two of the last three games it’s often the case that you’re going to concede at the other end, because the way we’ve been playing we’ve been so open.

“We weren’t as creative, probably because QPR didn’t let us be, and the conditions didn’t help.

“But we showed a different side to our game where we can dig in and grind out results when we don’t particularly play that well.

“There have been a lot of individual mistakes, which is frustrating because that’s something you can’t really work on on the training ground. People make bad decisions or concede goals from set pieces when people have been given jobs, that’s disappointing, but it’s something we’ve been looking to address and I think, hopefully, we’ve proved that we can defend sometimes.

“I know we didn’t win, but we didn’t play well and we got a good result.

“We need to turn a few draws into wins and a few bad performances and losses into draws. If we can put two or three wins together it jumps you up the table.”