Laws: O’Neill a modern-day Clough

Burnley boss Brian Laws sees some of Brian Clough’s qualities in

Martin O’Neill and is relishing the chance to take on the Aston

Villa manager.

Laws and Martin O’Neill both played under Clough in separate

eras at Nottingham Forest and the pair will meet on Sunday as Laws

continues his sharp Premier League learning curve with a trip to

Villa Park.

Laws, who earned his first crack at top-flight management

when he was appointed by the Clarets last month, said: “Martin has

had a phenomenal season but he is a phenomenal manager.

“If I could say anyone was close to Brian Clough’s

management, it would be him.

“He would say there is no-one near Brian Clough, he was a

one-off, and I don’t think he would want to be likened to him.

“But the way he sets about things and motivates his players

is the key factor in their success.

“He is more of a self-motivator. He makes the players play

out of their skins and that is something that is unique.”

The task is a daunting one for relegation-threatened Burnley

as they tackle a side pushing for a Champions League place and

preparing for the Carling Cup final.

Burnley have slipped into the bottom two after losing five of

their last six games and have collected just one point away from

home all season.

Laws took his players abroad for some warm-weather training

last week, though, and he hopes that getaway will have helped

instil a new belief.

He said: “We have got 13 games left – 13 cup finals.

“We have had a good fortnight away and this is a great

opportunity to brush what we have played to one side and forget

about that.

“It is a fresh start – 13 cup finals to go and everyone gives

it their all, nobody drops below a standard. We can’t afford to

carry anyone.

“You can’t hide, you have to give everything and play it like

it is the last game of the season, as if everything depends on it.

“We will play as if we need a result to stay in the Premier

League, then we will do it again in the next one.”

Laws is aware of how tight the table is and watched with

interest as Wigan moved up two places to 14th with a goalless draw

in midweek.

Laws expects nerves to affect most teams but feels his side,

still enjoying their first crack at the top division for 33

seasons, can play as if they have nothing to lose.

He added: “It is so tight, everyone is taking points off each


“It may be a low points tally to survive this year, it might

even go to goal difference.

“One goal could be the difference in staying in the Premier


“That gives me great hope there are a lot of teams looking

over their shoulders.

“If you win a game you jump one hell of a lot of places.

There is everything to play for.

“There are another six or seven teams there all very nervy.

“But are we nervy? No. We are enjoying our time here.

“Come the last 13 games they will start dropping below us.”

Leon Cort is expected to overcome a groin injury to take his

place defence for Burnley but veteran Graham Alexander is rated

50-50 after three weeks out with a calf problem.

“Leon has come through training really well and we are

confident he will be available for us,” said Laws.

“That will be a massive plus because Leon and Clarke Carlisle

have worked really well together. They look a good partnership.”