Three straight wins for Magic Mike now - but Everton are not going away either.
Agony and ecstasy
If you think it has been painful watching Burnley at times this season, I promise you that it is worse not watching Burnley.
On Saturday I was at a non-league game, relying on texted updates. It was horrendous.
There’s nothing quite like watching a terrible game of football to give you renewed appreciation of how relatively lucky we are as Burnley supporters either.
But I have to admit at about 4.30pm I had already accepted we were going down.
The late comeback thanks to twin goals from midfielders Jack Cork and Josh Brownhill seemed to come out of nowhere, moving us five points clear of the drop.
Being told it was full-time at Vicarage Road sparked relief like you cannot imagine.
Naturally, Everton then went and won again to pile pressure back on our shoulders.
After three wins on the bounce, though, momentum is on our side and with an out-of-form Aston Villa coming to Turf Moor on Saturday there is every chance we get another three points. You can assume two home wins would secure our safety.
Leeds are right back in it the mud too and they have Arsenal and Chelsea next.
There will likely be twists and turns ahead, but we are doing everything we can.
Who is Player of the Year?
At this time of the season, talk naturally starts to individual awards and there are two outstanding candidates to be named Burnley’s Player of the Year this season.
Nick Pope had a difficult start to the season but has been imperious of late. In some games it has seemed like he is totally unbeatable. In the four games under Mike Jackson he has conceded twice - a free header from a set piece and Watford’s fluke.
If Burnley stay up, Pope will have contributed to the effort as much as anyone. While he made some costly errors early in the campaign, he is in the form of his life right now. The interesting thing with Pope is he is also showing he can pass the ball.
Clearly, his distribution is not on a par with Alisson or Ederson, but Pope’s short passing is fine - now he is actually allowed to do it - and his long throws are good.
Pope has taken the award twice and few would argue against him getting it again.
My vote, though, will not be going to Pope. It will go to James Tarkowski.
Like Pope, Tarkowski made some bad mistakes that were punished in the first half of the season, but he has barely put a foot wrong since Christmas. The fans who wanted him sold or dropped in January are now eating very large slices of humble pie. It never made any sense. Tarkowski is our best defender and it is not even particularly close.
Tarkowski is also captaining the team in the absence of the injured Ben Mee. It has never been in doubt that Tarks is a leader, but having the armband seems to have encouraged him to step up even more. It is natural that Tarkowski moving on at the end of the season has affected how fans view him, but his commitment is incredible.
Not only is Tarkowski the captain, he is playing in a defence with two relative rookies and in an unfamiliar role, slotting in on the left rather than his usual spot on the right. The rapid development of Nathan Collins owes a lot to Tarkowski being next to him.
Many players whose future lie elsewhere have been guity of easing off in the last few months of their contracts, but that is not the case for Tarkowski at all. Few can begrudge him the chance to earn a lot more money elsewhere, but I am allowing myself to have the smallest sliver of hope that he could yet be persuaded to renew.
If we appoint a manager committed to playing out from the back, Tarkowski will get more of a chance to show what he can do on the ball. At times, Tarks can be guilty of over-playing but he is a good passer and he deserves the opportunity to prove that.
Perhaps he has missed the boat for England now and thinks a change of scenery is his chance to make a World Cup claim, but the wrong move could be costly for him. Look at Michael Keane, who has struggled for consistency at Everton despite appearing to have unlimited amounts of potential during the early years of his career.
Maybe it is sacrilige to say this, but if I could only keep Tarkowski or Mee for next season, it wouldn’t take me long at all to come up with my answer. He is our POTY.
Podcasts and quiz question
An analysis show from the podcast team will be out in due course, so look out for that.
Saturday was Burnley's 300th Premier League game, so this week’s quiz question is related to that milestone. Listen to the Villa preview show on Friday for the answer:
Chris Wood, with 49 goals, is still Burnley's top scorer in the Clarets' Premier League games played to date. Three opposition players have scored eight goals each against Burnley in these matches - but can you name all three?
Birthdays and anniversaries
Former striker Dave Nugent is 37 today, while Nathan Collins and Matej Vydra both had their birthdays over the weekend as well. Collins turned 21. How is he only 21?!
The last time we played #OnThisDay was in 2016, when Sam Vokes’ header beat QPR to secure our return to the Premier League. What a bloody brilliant day that was:
And even further back, it would be remiss of me not to mention Burnley also won the league title on May 2, all the way back in 1960. Were any newsletter readers there?
Here’s a letter from Mark about the weekend Watford win:
Was a game of two halves, the first half we didn't really turn up, Dwight made a couple of runs at the with the ball late on the first half earning what turn out to be a free kick instead of the awarded penalty, but he frightened them with his pace.
Then second half we came out the Burnley we've been seeing since Jackson and the team took over. I just knew that if we scored we could go on and win it, I will admit I was on tenterhooks up to the 83rd minute when the excellent Jack Cork scored that beautiful header. And I knew that we had them on the run and could get another which we did three minutes later with Brownhill.
I feel like we’ve started pretty poorly in all the Jackson wins really, though you cannot doubt the spirit and fight in the team now. I’m not sure a Dyche team would have been pushing for a winner after making it 1-1, but Watford were there for the taking.
That’s it for this week. As always, feedback and letters are appreciated. I’d also like to feature more contributors, so if you have an idea for an article, let me know. Cheers!