Burnley’s caretaker manager Mike Jackson said he did not expect the pain of relegation to ever go away after a final-day 2-1 defeat to Newcastle ended the club’s six-year stay in the Premier League.
The Clarets began the day needing to match Leeds’ result at Brentford but fell 2-0 down to goals from Callum Wilson – the first from the penalty spot after an inexplicable Nathan Collins handball – before Maxwel Cornet’s 69th-minute strike sparked a late fightback which fell short as Leeds’ win condemned Burnley to the drop.
Jackson, who replaced Sean Dyche last month, had made Burnley favourites to avoid the drop, taking 11 points from seven games prior to this, but could not clear the final hurdle.
“Suffer,” Jackson said when asked what he would do next. “That won’t go away for a long, long time. In fact it won’t. It will always be there. It’s something I’ll have to live with that won’t go away…
“It’s really raw at the moment. I’m gutted for the group, the fans, the staff. It’s hard to find the words sometimes. They’ve given it everything and that’s all you can ask of anybody.”
Having put themselves within touching distance of safety, Burnley wilted under the pressure on the final day, the first-half full of errors as they appeared hurried, even panicked, in their play.
“I think it was a bit edgy but I don’t think there was much in the game,” Jackson said. “I think you’re going to get those misplaced passes. I didn’t see anything in it until the penalty and from then it was two teams scrapping it out.”
The penalty incident was undoubtedly a poor one. Collins, 21, has proven an able deputy for injured captain Ben Mee but would struggle to explain why he reached out an arm after Nick Pope had averted the danger from a corner.
“Nathan has been brilliant and he’s devastated in there,” Jackson said. “I’m not going to criticise the young lad. He’s been great for me and I’m sure in the future you’ll see him going from strength to strength. There’s no blame on him.”
Victory for Newcastle made it 38 points in 2022 for Eddie Howe’s side – a tally bettered only by Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham – ahead of anticipated further investment this summer.
There was a time in January when this fixture might have been circled as a battle of two sides trying to dodge the drop, but instead Newcastle have finished 11th, 14 points above Burnley.
“I’m not sure I could say I could see it coming,” said Howe, who took over in November after Steve Bruce was sacked.
“I have to compliment the players on how they’ve dug in, how they’ve united together, and there were great examples today right through the team in terms of performances, giving it all for the shirt, and the players deserve huge credit.”
With major investment anticipated this summer, some of those players might have been playing their final game for the club – Howe joked he would begin his planning for next season on the bus ride home – and Newcastle certainly hope to be looking up again next season.
In contrast Burnley face a host of problems – they have nine first-team players out of contract and must repay a “significant” portion of a £65million loan – and Howe had sympathy for the club he managed for 22 months before leaving in October 2012.
“It was a very, very difficult game for me,” the former Bournemouth boss said. “I’ve got emotional ties to Burnley and my thoughts are with the players, staff, the fans. It’s a very proud football club and it hurts to see the club being relegated.
“I’ve been through that, I know how difficult it can be and I know the emotions. I hope they bounce back very quickly but we know the Championship can be very difficult.”