SO another season arrives and, as always at the Albion, things are never dull, both on and off the pitch.
A series of transfer sagas, more akin to the ‘Harmony Hairspray’‘ advert, has seen the anxiety levels of the majority of Albion fans rise over the last few days, ahead of the opening league fixture at the Amex against Sheffield Wednesday (tickets still availiable, check at the bottom of the column for telephone number).
Seemingly right in the middle of this maelstrom is Albion’s head of football operations, David Burke.
For a person who arrived at the club somewhat under the radar, his stock amongst some supporters is fast making him one of the most unpopular figures for several years in certain quarters.
But is that really fair?
And who is David Burke?
An initial look on Wikipedia tells us that he’s a British born actor (1934), who played Doctor Watson on television, and while some of the Albion transfer activity has been shrouded in mystery, clearly it’s not him.
Another look throws up an ex-Blackpool footballer, who still resides in the north west of England, so clearly not him.
After that, it’s an American actor who once played a baddie in Kojak or a renowned botanist, so another couple of blanks.
So a man who effectively carries the hopes and dreams of thousands of Albion fans, isn’t on Wikipedia, while Pudsey the dog is. Some might say that sometimes life just isn’t fair.
The problem is, that as this situation unfolds, unless the Albion suddenly pull off a transfer coup to rival that of the arrival of the late, great Bobby Smith from Spurs in the 1960s, Mr Burke will continue to get the flack, be it justified or not.
Let’s not dress it up, Albion, despite being the best supported club outside the Premier League, is like Emmerdale without the livestock, eventually everything gets out.
I have heard from several reliable sources that Mr Burke reportedly had a fractured relationship with Gus Poyet, something confirmed to me face to face by a member of Gus’s management team.
Whether or not it was the same with Oscar Garcia is open to question, but we’ve already had new boss Sami Hyypia stating that he’s never operated under a transfer and recruitment policy like the Albion currently have.
Having seen what a supposed hate figure at the Albion has to endure from fans, it’s only fair that Mr Burke gets the chance to defend himself, possibly explaining in layman’s terms what his role actually entails and perhaps some of the issues he’s encountered in his transfer dealings this summer.
Therefore, I’m prepared to give him a section of my column space next week to have the right to reply. Please contact the Herald sports desk on 01903 282399.
Until then, I would urge supporters, some of whom appear to be getting very hot under the collar, to cut him some slack.
n Due to ‘Burkegate’, my annual football predictions will now be next week, although I do think Man City might win the Community Shield this Sunday.