For those of you who devotedly read my weekly utterances on the fate and fortune of Burnley Football Club; first of all thank you and secondly, my apologies if what follows reads very similarly to my piece on last week’s game against Newcastle United.
Burnley’s victory over Bournemouth in yesterday’s Premier League fixture was an almost exact replica of that win over the Magpies; same score, same pattern of play, same torrential rain and same Twitter abuse from disgruntled fans of the vanquished opponents.
Bournemouth play at a stadium formally known as Dean Court, but which the corporate shilling determined would be re-branded as the Vitality Stadium – an ironic title as “vitality” was noticeably absent from most of yesterday’s game.
The home team produced no shots for Nick Pope in the Burnley goal to trouble himself with, indeed fter a similar occurrence against Newcastle, the Clarets’ keeper could be forgiven for wondering if he was drawing a salary under false pretences.
Let us take a moment to consider that otherwise mundane statistic; in two consecutive Premier League fixtures, Burnley’s defence have denied their opponents any credible scoring attempts.
Whilst freely admitting to my bias, I nonetheless find that to be a huge compliment to Burnley’s defensive structure; and should be a considerable source of pride to all Burnley fans.
It has to be acknowledged that Burnley were only marginally better that their hosts as an attacking force yesterday, but those are the margins that matter – the “fine margins” that Sean Dyche often refers to. This was always going to be a game settled by a single goal and it was Burnley who came up with it in the 89th minute of the match.
Aaron Lennon and Ashley Westwood between them worked a position on Burnley’s right to deliver a cross into the Bournemouth penalty area. As usual, Westwood’s ball was precise in its accuracy and found the head of Jay Rodriguez who had slipped stealthily between the two flat-footed Bournemouth centre-backs and directed his header into the corner of the their goal.
Burnley paid what was for them a hefty price to secure the return of Rodriguez to his home town club, his appearances thus far have been largely restricted to cameos, but his finish yesterday represented the kind of rapier-like precision in front of goal for which he was hired.
As the season progresses into its second half, one expects to see Jay Rod’s contributions to become more regular and prominent. Yesterday’s earned his team three points and elevated Burnley to tenth place in the Premier League.
There is an unspoken but omnipresent snobbery in football which manifests itself in the fact that the so called “big clubs” ignore the claims of Dyche as well as Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe and Sheffield United’s Chris Wilder, when managerial vacancies occur.
It also features in the tirades of abuse that comes Burnley’s way from supporters of teams they have just beaten. There are jibes about negativity, being over-physical or resorting to excessive use of the long ball.
Burnley may not be pretty to watch, they may not play the sort of football that causes purists to swoon, and they may come from a neglected, deprived and unfashionable part of the country; but Sean Dyche, his team and their supporters owe no apology to anyone.
Burnley get the job done – end of story.
Next up is a Boxing Day trip to Goodison Park, where Everton will be hoping for a new-manager bounce having appointed Carlo Ancelotti as their new manager. The great Italian may well have cause to raise a quizzical eyebrow when he encounters Burnley’s method of playing football.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all who read these offerings – and indeed fans of the beautiful game everywhere – a very happy Christmas.
The last game before Christmas was analyised by Dave Thornley, who contributes weekly for Clarets Mad. Have a great Christmas Dave. (TEC).