When compiling this chronicle of Burnley Football Club’s Premier League odyssey, there are times when the words cascade out of the keyboard and flow with ease and eloquence; reporting on yesterday’s goalless draw at St James’ Park, Newcastle was not such an occasion.
Pressed into service as an analyst on Gillette Soccer Saturday, former manager of just about everywhere – Neil Warnock, found little to enthuse him; “You’ve brought me all the way up from Cornwall for this?” was one comment; “Do you have to keep coming to me Jeff?” was another. And on at least one occasion, the poor chap looked to have nodded off.
What football Warnock was moved to discuss was confined to descriptions of Newcastle attacks, the edit on Match of the Day portrayed a similar picture. Indeed one could be forgiven for thinking that Burnley spent the entire ninety minutes without the ball.
But all of those Newcastle attacks were to run aground on the rocks of the Burnley defence, a defence which was not breached for the eleventh time this season.
That statistic should be, and is, a source of pride for Burnley and their fans. It has been a fundamental reason why Burnley are not in relegation trouble, ensuring as it does that Burnley do not emerge empty handed from testing away fixtures like yesterday’s.
Nick Pope performed a series of what for him were routine saves, performed with the calm, unfussy efficiency we have come to expect.
It is a quality that many of the great goalkeepers of the past have possessed; Banks, Shilton and Jennings for example. I can pay Burnley’s current custodian no greater compliment than to place him in such company.
The watching Gareth Southgate could not fail to have been impressed by Pope’s shot-stopping ability, but what perhaps lets him down in terms of becoming a fixture in the national team, is his distribution in an era when goalkeepers are expected to perform as auxiliary midfield players.
Burnley’s actual midfield struggled to grasp a firm hold on yesterday’s play and as a result, the attacking players had little to get their teeth into.
Sean Dyche described it as a “below par performance”, he was undoubtedly correct and in that regard the point which Burnley earned should be received with a measure of gratitude.
It was a case of take the draw, get back on the team bus and focus on the next match. Saturday's tea time encounter with Jose Mourinho’s Spurs, a fixture which will hopefully provide more to write home about.
Regular contributor Dave Thornley shares his views on a rather drab EPL encounter, but Burnley came away with another valuable point. (TEC).