'Cheer up, George Burleeee…' runs the official version of the song. And after yesterday's 2-1 defeat by Peter Grant's Canaries, it was certainly one sad, Scottish manager that came out to meet the Press.
Sad and distinctly unimpressed with the day's official Clive Oliver after watching the referee rule out what he felt was a perfectly good goal from Andrew Surman before then awarding an indirect free-kick after Chris Makin's back-pass was picked up by keeper Kelvin Davis.
Inadvertant, was Burley's ruling on that one; goal, was his opinion on David Marshall's near-almighty gaffe.
“Someone has seen it on the monitor and said it seemed over the line, the players thought it was over the line, but maybe that just summed up the decisions of the referee today,” said the Saints boss, who didn't quite take Southampton's third defeat of the week firmly on the chin.
“The players clearly felt it was over the line, the keeper's right on his line and it's gone through his legs – and it looked over to me,” said Burley.
TV replays would suggest that the Canary keeper was actually a good couple of yards off his line – far enough to claw the ball back off the goal-line after somehow allowing Surman's regulation drive to slip from his grasp.
And nor was the award of an indirect free-kick just after the hour-mark the straw that broke Burley's back referee-wise. He had, claimed an unhappy Burley, been at it all afternoon.
“I thought from the start he'd been looking to give Norwich something. I said that at half-time and I was proven right,” said the long-time Ipswich Town boss, always awarded the warmest of Norfolk welcomes wherever he manages.
“I thought he had a very poor game. I wasn't happy with his decisions,” added Burley.
To be fair, the game could easily have been over by the break as the Canaries stumbled and stuttered in Barnet-like fashion before finally finding a few forward gears after the break. And in Sunderland and Derby target Kenwyne Jones, the visitors had a right handful leading their line.
But as desperate – in every sense – as some of City's defending was, it did a job.
They went in at the break 1-0 down having clung on gamely to the ropes. Minus their own knock-out punch, Jamie Cureton then danced his way into the centre of the ring and sent Southampton crashing to the Championship canvas with two wonderful examples of the natural goalscorer's art.
“I can't believe we've lost,” said Burley. “We've scored one goal which could have been three or four. One, we thought, wes over the line; didn't get it. And then the referee's decision with the back pass has changed the game.
“We're disappointed. The first hour it's like men against boys at times…”
The back pass was not intentional. “It came to him quickly – it's hit him and then rolled back to the keeper,” insisted Burley.
He did at least salute Cureton's finish thereafter – in a roundabout way.
“It was a great finish; he's a good finisher but it shouldn't have happened – it shouldn't have been a free-kick.
“Then they get another quick goal and we start chasing the game at 2-1. Overall, I can't believe how we lost the game. But if we keep playing in that manner then the wins will come.”
There was a lot of head shaking to be had. Marshall redeemed himself with two, decent saves; Adam Drury would hook one off the line; Simon Lappin another. Gary Doherty would throw himself in the path of a near-post Rudi Skacel effort as Saints pressed and pressed.
“We should have been more than one-up with the opportunities that we had. We get another goal and it's finished. If the referee and linesman make the right decision, it's 2-0 and we win the match.”
Burley wasn't, of course, the only familiar face to be granted a warm welcome on his return – ex-Canary play-maker Youssef Safri was also less than popular from the start following his lively exit earlier this summer.
He didn't endear himself to the home crowd any further by insisting on making an early impression on the game – or rather an early impression on Darel Russell (twice) and Simon Lappin.
“I thought he did very well,” said Burley, riding swiftly to the defence of his new play-maker.
“He dictated the game, got the ball down and passed it and I was very pleased with his performance.”
Just not that of Mr Oliver.
“Of course I'll put comments in my report.” Will they be favourable? “I thought he had a very poor game – in my opinion.”
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