Sadness At Another Managerial Departure
Mark Reflects On Impatience Of The Modern Game
Mark Burke is retaining an open mind about a possible return to football despite his disappointment at the weekend dismissal of his friend, Dean Smith.
The former Wolves midfielder hoped the head coach would be given longer to arrest the sudden slide at a club he still keeps a keen eye on from his home in Holland.
“It seems you can do three years of good work now and then be out of a job if you have a poor three weeks,” he said. “I like Dean and like what he did at the club, so I was sorry to hear the news.
“We may have played against each other in school or boys’ football as we are both from the Birmingham area and are only a year apart. But I have mainly got to know him through my scouting.
“I have always enjoyed chatting to him when he was around and thought he was what Villa wanted and needed. He seemed to have solid characters around him, like Richard O’Kelly and more recently Craig Shakespeare, but there’s very little patience in football now.”
Burke, a former England schoolboy and youth international, served Villa during Graham Turner’s time there and then had Graham Taylor as his manager when he made seven of the eight first-team appearances he totalled while in the Second City.
In the first half of the 1990s, he had mixed fortunes under the two men after returning to the West Midlands with Wolves following an eventful spell at Middlesbrough and a loan stay at Darlington.
Turner was the man who paid a modest fee to bring him back from the north east in 1991 and it was Taylor who freed him three and a half years later following a decent contribution of 14 goals in 77 senior games.
Burke’s years of scouting for Middlesbrough ended shortly before the pandemic struck and he added: “I don’t know whether I will return to the game in some capacity.
“The sort of role I was fulfilling has become more digital now and there are still complications with covid, so I will have to see.
“I have been in Holland throughout the lockdowns working in property, keeping in touch as best I can and speaking to one one or two former team-mates like Mark Walters.”
Others the 52-year-old played alongside at Villa included Paul Birch, Andy Blair, Tony Daley, Andy Gray, Phil Robinson and Tom Bennett, all of whom were signed by Wolves before or after him.
Although his Villa debut had come in the First Division at home to Everton, most of his outings there were in the early months of their Second Division promotion-winning campaign under Taylor.
*Two Wolves legends who proudly wore the three lions on their chest, John Richards and Steve Bull, are at Waterstone’s in Wolverhampton at 12.30 this Friday (November 12) to sign copies of Wolves’ England Internationals, the new book (left) written by lifelong fan Bob Bannister. Any profits are to go to the Wolves Former Players Association.