Back to Basics for Burnley?

Last updated : 08 December 2019 By Dave Thornley

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear; Burnley and their supporters have truly endured a week cast in the furnace of Hades itself; a “sabbati terribilis” if ever there was one.

Eleven (yes, eleven!) goals conceded and a mere one scored – and even that was an inconsequential eighty-eighth minute charitable gesture whilst already 4-0 down to Manchester City.

Last Saturday’s home defeat to Crystal Palace has already been chronicled in these columns, and although that was bad enough, matters were to get exponentially worse as the week progressed with the team being picked apart by City on Tuesday night, then ripped apart by Spurs yesterday.

Let us start, if we must, with the late night horror show at Turf Moor last Tuesday, when the defending champions inflicted their latest in what is becoming a tradition of hammerings at their hands.

Sean Dyche changed the formation of his Burnley team for this match; bringing in an extra midfield player to deny City the space in which to operate and inviting Chris Wood to plough a lonely and isolated furrow up-front.

For a while, Burnley succeeded in keeping themselves in the game; but once Gabriel Jesus curled a right foot shot past Nick Pope, City smoothly and irreversibly assumed control of the match.

Second half goals from Jesus again, Rodri and Mahrez confirmed City’s superiority and in truth, Burnley were unable to land a glove on the visitors, despite the efforts of James Tarkowski, who manfully held the defensive fort amidst the barrage.

Any notion that Burnley’s supporters harboured that their team would react positively at Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium yesterday, were firmly dispelled as early as the ninth minute, by which time Burnley found themselves 2-0 down; due to a long range strike from Harry Kane and a nudge-in by Lucas Moura.

Burnley did manage a couple of chances, Robbie Brady sent a looping header against the Spurs crossbar and Jay Rodriguez headed a Pieters cross narrowly wide; but once Son Heung-Min had sprinted the length of the field to put Spurs three up, that was that.

There is no denying the brilliance of Son’s Maradona-esque run and finish, it is doubtful that a better goal will be scored in the Premier League all season and for that reason, Burnley fans are going to have to endure the agony of seeing the goal being repeated endlessly.

Two further Spurs goals followed in an embarrassingly one-sided second half to complete a humiliating hammering of the type that the Clarets’ early season form had given their fans cause to believe had been eliminated.

If Burnley were bad last Tuesday night, they were truly diabolical yesterday and it is alarming to see one’s team dissolve so meekly against admittedly strong and expensively-assembled opponents. It should not be asking too much that the team competes with intent, purpose and aggression.

Evidence is steadily emerging that Burnley have an inferiority complex when confronted with any one of the “big six” teams.

This has to be addressed and put right, for the players are cheating themselves, their manager and their supporters if they continue in this vain.

They need to re-discover their willingness to cock a snook at big-name opponents and be prepared to engage, it may amount to bows and arrows against nuclear weapons, but bows and arrows can do some damage when in the hands of skilled and determined archers.

To introduce a bit of context, Burnley have held their own so far this season against other teams in the middle-to-bottom area of the league table, and they have previous experience of extracting themselves from far worse messes than this.

The Clarets next three fixtures, against Newcastle, Bournemouth and Everton now assume enhanced significance and will go a long way towards dictating the course of the second half of Burnley’s season.

Written by uber Claret Dave Thornley, who comments regularly on the fortunes of Burnley FC on Clarets Mad. (TEC.)