Pope goes off the rails

Last updated : 04 October 2020 By Dave Thornley

As defeat follows defeat, each one more depressing than the last, it is clear that there’s “trouble at t’mill” at Burnley Football Club.

The Clarets, whose recent successes have been built upon the foundations of stability, unity, and togetherness, have become a frustrated, tetchy, and disjointed outfit. 

Fans, Board and management are at loggerheads, the source of the discontentment centres around yet another lacklustre transfer window and by association, the perception that the Board are negligent in their duty to support their manager by making the funds available to expand the squad.

Perhaps Chairman Mike Garlick and Head of Recruitment (possibly the most ironic job title in the game) Mike Rigg are straining every sinew to get deals over the line before the window formally closes tomorrow night; but it sure doesn’t seem like it and those two are bearing the brunt of Burnley fans’ frustrations.

Surely and explanation is called for, a discourse between ownership and supporters where the long term strategy is outlined and – whether supporters agree with it or not – at least we would know what thinking lies behind the current course they have set the club upon.

In the meantime, the team continues to lose; the now traditional hammering at the hands of Manchester City in the midweek League Cup tie was followed by an infinitely more depressing 3-1 reverse at the hands of Newcastle United.

Burnley’s unravelling was never better illustrated by a woeful first half display. The Clarets were fortunate to go into the break only one goal behind, and that the direct result of an unpunished foul on Kevin Long.

The ball then broke to Newcastle’s speedy winger Allan Saint-Maximin who wriggled sufficiently clear of the Burnley defenders (who strangely backed off too deep) and struck a shot which Nick Pope palmed into the corner of the goal.

Pope has routinely saved many more truly struck shots and it was one feature of a strangely uncertain display by the Burnley keeper.

Things picked up early in the second half but no sooner had Ashley Westwood’s angled volley brought the Clarets level than Saint-Maximin left Charlie Taylor panting in his slipstream as he broke down the wing and crossed for Callum Wilson to apply finish from close range.

Saint-Maximin cost Newcastle £16m from Nice; a modest outlay for a player possessing so potent a threat and this begs the question why can’t Burnley source and secure such players? Are they looking in all the right places? Surely, that should be within the Head of Recruitment’s remit?

The Clarets could not thereafter fashion a response to falling behind the second time and the scoring was completed late in the game when a penalty was awarded against Pope after he had brought down Callum Wilson following a brain-freeze moment in which he messed up a routine clearance. The penalty was on the harsh side, but the mistake leading up to it was lamentable.

Those of you who read my piece from last week will be familiar with my distaste for Saturday night kick offs, and sitting through this match was a truly miserable way to spend the evening. Memo to Sky TV, no more please.

At least the international break provides cause to pause and re-group. It is my suggestion that the club’s hierarchy use the time to mend fences and re-build trust.

Dave Thornley puts his weekly slant on current events at Turf Moor, and things are not going well for Sean Dyche and Burnley Football Club at present, that is for sure. (TEC).