It was somehow appropriate that it was in Leicester (the home city of Burnley’s opponents yesterday) where the remains of Richard III were discovered and subsequently interned; because now is truly the winter of Burnley’s discontent.
Defeat to a Foxes team compelled to play for 84 minutes with ten men was Burnley’s fourth in succession and by far the toughest to stomach.
There is another quote which springs to mind; not from Shakespeare this time but from Stephen King, “You hold on to that small hope, see, that’s what f****s you up. That’s what kills you”. So it is that after yesterday’s defeat, dear reader, your correspondent has abandoned any vestige of hope lest I suffer the same fate.
Burnley will be relegated, I can envisage no alternative to that outcome. We are witnessing the final days of a glorious period for the club.
The Clarets’ current plight is due to a combination of many circumstances, and they have been and will be discussed at length here and elsewhere; but one of those reasons must surely be that Burnley have been on the sticky end of a disproportionate number of refereeing decisions that were just plain wrong.
Yesterday Burnley had by my count four plausible penalty shouts denied, two of which were, in the unique vernacular of Paul Merson, “stonewall”.
The upending of Charlie Taylor, coming at a time when Burnley were pressing hard for the goal that would have given them the lead and in all probability secured the points, was an absurd dereliction of duty by referee Michael Oliver.
Decisions like that one lead directly to teams getting relegated, managers getting sacked and backroom staff being made redundant; VAR will hopefully correct those decisions, but it will not apply in next season’s Championship, which is where Burnley are heading. Perhaps Mr Oliver might care to reflect upon that in his moments of solitary contemplation?
One decision which Oliver got right was the early dismissal of Harry McGuire, who presumably didn’t fancy spending the following ninety minutes exposed to the apocalyptic storm of wind and rain swirling around Turf Moor, when he tripped Johan Berg Gudmundsson as the Clarets’ winger was through on goal.
The red card, however, merely precipitated the introduction of Wes Morgan, who was immense throughout the rest of the game, culminating in his heading the winning goal in the last minute.
Morgan’s effort was only Leicester’s second serious attempt on Burnley’s goal; the first was James Maddison’s free kick which was awarded for a clumsy and unnecessary challenge by James Tarkowski, and which Maddison curled over the wall and beyond Tom Heaton’s outstretched arm.
A smart move down the Burnley left led to a clever cutback by Taylor into the path of Dwight McNeill who finished neatly into the corner of Kasper Schmeichel’s goal for an equaliser.
Burnley should have then been able to press on for the win which would have eased themselves further away from the bottom reaches of the table and which, on the balance of play, they wouldhave deserved.
It did not arrive and Morgan’s header instead meant that they ended the game empty-handed and in all probability doomed.
Some say football can be a cruel game, they are wrong, for yesterday it went way beyond cruel and became sadistic.
Normally at this point in my piece, I attempt to introduce a note of positivity as I contemplate Burnley’s future fixtures and map out a course to Premier League survival. But I can now see no such course, Burnley will be relegated.
Written by a very pessimistic uber Claret fan, Dave Thornley. (TEC).