Battling Burnley Batter Wolves

Last updated : 25 April 2021 By Dave Thornley

Dave Thornley, the Clarets Mad resident match summariser reflects on today's mauling by the Clarets in a 4-0 away win at the Molineux Stadium against a hapless Wolverhampton Wanderers.

It has been quite a week and for Burnley Football Club, a good one both on and off the pitch.

As the Clarets were slipping to defeat against Manchester United last Sunday, the news filtered through that United, along with five other Premier League teams and eleven others from around Europe, had signed up to form a European Super League, which would confer upon those twelve signatories exclusive rights of participation irrespective of how poorly they performed on the pitch.

Gary Neville in the commentary box was beside himself with an anger he would make no attempt to supress; he was joined in the chorus of disapproval by just about every other pundit, coach, player and supporter.

Amongst those voices of descent were those of Burnley’s new owner, Alan Pace, and their captain Ben Mee; who took to the airwaves and to print to express their opposition in a manner which was coherent, measured and articulate.

The anger expressed was tangible, visceral and of such intensity that it would reach even the far-flung realms in which the owners of the “Big Six” clubs dwelt. One-by-one they succumbed to the pressure exerted upon them; first to withdraw was Chelsea, followed swiftly by Manchester City and by Tuesday, all but three of the “Dirty Dozen” had pulled out leaving the whole enterprise in tatters.

Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus stubbornly remain, still convinced that the “European Super League” can prevail; still convinced of its virtue and still espousing the supposed benefits it would confer upon the game as a whole; however tenuous and fanciful those claims might be.

Wouldn’t it be lovely if those three remaining clubs were to press ahead with their plans and be condemned to play each other, and only each other, for all eternity? A Faustian punishment for their hubris.

Back in the mortal realm, debate continues as to what action to take against those six clubs who sought to undermine the very principals upon which football in this country was founded; namely that a route to the summit is available to all. That even the most humble can nurture dreams of pitting their skills against the very best because there is a pathway laid out before them to make it so.

Some sort of punishment would seem appropriate, but in a form which does not penalise those players, coaches and fans whose pressure brought about the collapse of the project.

The fall-out from this controversy will rumble on, but in the meanwhile it was time to turn one’s attention to matters on the pitch; and a Sunday lunchtime encounter with Wolverhampton Wanderers at their Molyneux home.

After three consecutive defeats, Burnley were in need of points, casting glances in the rear-view mirror at Fulham, six points behind, but still on Burnley’s tail.

Clarets fans – myself included – had become nervous that the season may yet degenerate into one which would culminate in relegation. Fortunately, the players displayed no such nerves, serving up one of Burnley’s most complete and compelling performances of recent memory.

Star of the show was undoubtedly Chris Wood; Burnley’s Kiwi striker surpassing all expectations with a first half hat-trick which had the BBC commentary team rummaging through the record books and declaring that his was the first hat-trick to be completed before the interval of a Premier League fixture since Michael Owen’s against Newcastle in 1998.

The first, a hard, low drive from a tight angle; the second a close-range tap-in from a Dwight McNeil cross and the third a header from a corner.

Although the Wolves defenders were in benevolent mood and culpable to a greater or lesser extent on all three goals; Wood’s positional awareness and his ruthlessness in front of goal were a delight to behold.

If, as now seems likely, Burnley remain in the Premier League, then it will be due in no small part to Wood’s goals. Of all strikers at the clubs around Burnley in the league table, I would suggest that only Southampton’s former Claret Danny Ings has made a comparable contribution to Wood’s.

Throughout the second half, Wolves could fashion no significant response as Burnley maintained their vyce-like grip on the game. Mattej Vydra – who’s performance was perhaps his best in a Burnley shirt – had a goal ruled out for another of those toenail offsides; whilst Jack Cork and Ashley Westwood dominated the midfield and Dwight McNeil remained a constant threat down the left.

Westwood applied the cherry on top of this delicious confection late in the game when Wood set him up to strike low and hard into the corner of the Wolves goal.

A four-nil victory away from home is rare indeed, the first in the top flight by such a margin since 1965, and it moves Burnley up the table to 14th, ahead of not only Fulham but also Brighton, Newcastle and Southampton.

A season full of fretting for Burnlrey fans about relegation are if not banished, then pushed firmly onto the back-burner. Should Burnley avoid defeat at Craven Cottage in a couple of games time, then the job will be complete.

Ken Hanson posts across social media from articles written by Dave, which are edited and posted from Clarets Mad, by The Editors Chair (TEC).