Dave Thornley, the Clarets Mad resident match summariser reflects on today’s annihilation at the hands of Leeds United.
In the immediate aftermath of a four-nil defeat, it’s difficult to comprehend quite how Burnley suffered such a heavy loss.
The lunchtime fixture at home to Leeds United was, for long periods, evenly contested and but for some inspired goalkeeping from the implausibly youthful-looking Meslier in the Leeds goal; a fluke deflection for the pivotal second goal and a lack of composure in front of goal, then Burnley could well have come out of the game with a more acceptable score-line.
For fans of my vintage, losing to Leeds hurts deeply. Memories of the days when Don Revie’s teams of the 70’s made the Peaky Blinders look like the Trumpton Fire Brigade still linger, despite the image makeover they have undertaken under Marcelo Bielsa.
It has to be admitted, however, that three of Leeds’s four goals were a delight to the neutral supporter and worthy of admiration even from this grizzled old Clarets fan.
But two of those goals highlighted a defensive frailty which first manifested itself when Saint-Maximin scored for Newcastle at Turf Moor a few weeks ago; namely the tendency for the defenders to back off when an opponent is running from deep.
Not engaging higher up the field allows time and space for the runner to size up his options and as with Saint-Maximin, Leeds’s Mateusz Klich chose the option to shoot, curling the ball into the corner of the Burnley goal, past Bailey Peacock-Farrell, who was deputising for the injured Nick Pope.
Coming just before the end of a closely fought first half, Klich’s goal was a sickening blow; one which was compounded on the hour mark when an unthreatening shot from the edge of the box clipped Harrison’s heel, giving the stand-in keeper no chance.
Burnley responded positively and Matej Vydra, James Tarkowski and substitutes Johann Berg Gudmundsson and Jay Rodriguez all had presentable chances which were either missed or repelled by Meslier.
Leeds introduced Rodrigo from the bench in place of a misfiring Patrick Bamford, and the Spaniard finished the game with two beautifully taken goals.
His first and Leeds’s third came from another unchallenged run into the heart of Burnley’s defence, this time the ball-carrier, Harrison, decided against the shot and instead picked out Rodrigo who turned neatly past Ben Mee and skilfully chipped the ball over Peacock-Farrell. He then compounded Burnley’s misery by rounding Peacock-Farrell for the fourth.
It is a question I have posed previously, and will no doubt do so again, why is it that Leeds can unearth players like Rodrigo for a relatively inexpensive £22m, whilst Burnley manifestly cannot? Even in this inflated transfer market there are bargains to be had. Burnley need to be more assertive in finding them.
Unlike the previous hammerings Burnley have suffered this season at Manchester City and Spurs, this wasn’t as comprehensively one-sided and although the Clarets were clearly second best, the scale of the defeat certainly flattered Leeds.
Two positive notes on which to finish; firstly, fans will be allowed back into Turf Moor for the first time in over a year for the mid-week match against Liverpool. I have been blessed with the good fortune of being selected in the ballot for one of the 3800 tickets available, and whilst extending my sympathy to equally (or more) deserving fans who weren’t successful, I cannot wait to be back.
Finally, huge congratulations to Clarets’ legend Michael Duff, who has guided his Cheltenham team to the League 2 Championship and can now look forward to fixtures against the likes of Sheffield Wednesday, Portsmouth, Ipswich and maybe Sunderland, as well as Accrington Stanley. Well done Michael you are surely destined to be a future Burnley manager.
Ken Hanson posts across social media from articles written by Dave, which are edited and posted from Clarets Mad, by The Editors Chair (TEC).