After suffering a week of two one-nil defeats, to be closely followed by a run of Premier League fixtures from which few if any, points can be anticipated, Burnley are now facing the prospect, nay likelihood, that when the veritable six pointer home game against Brighton comes around on the 6th February, the Clarets will find themselves back in the bottom three EPL relegation spots.
The relentless slog of two matches per week offers no time to recuperate, no time to step back, to analyse or to address deficiencies on the training ground.
Those deficiencies have been present all season: a lack of imagination and impetus going forward; a tactical approach from Sean Dyche that is too inflexible, and a paucity of the resources needed to affect change to the course of a game. If Burnley don’t create goal-scoring opportunities from set-pieces, they don’t seem able to create them at all.
In attack, Sean Dyche has a crop of seriously mis-firing strikers. Currently, none of the Barnes, Wood, Rodriguez or Vydra quartet look remotely capable of scoring goals in sufficient quantities to haul the Clarets back into matches once they fall behind or to improve on a one-goal lead. The upshot is that Burnley are spending far too long manning the defensive barricades.
Typically, Burnley don’t mind defending, they are usually comfortable without the ball and throughout the season to date they haven’t conceded very many goals, certainly not once Mee and Tarkowski resumed their partnership in the centre of the Clarets defence. But as we saw in this week’s two matches, that means nothing if there is no effective counterpunch.
Burnley without doubt, played reasonably well against a Manchester United team whose hideous away strip caused them to resemble a herd of zebras, and although outclassed in the second half, the Clarets were never completely out of a game decided by Paul Pogba’s deflected volley. Indeed, a late flurry of activity in the United goalmouth almost rescued a point.
Yesterday afternoon against West Ham, Burnley’s deficiencies were laid bare. A rare defensive miss-communication between Mee and Tarkowski, aided and abetted by a statuesque Robbie Brady on the far post, allowed Michail Antonio the easiest of close-range finishes and he duly obliged to give the Hammers a lead they hardly looked likely to surrender.
Thereafter, Burnley had periods where they huffed and puffed, but couldn’t summon sufficient threat to seriously unease Fabianski in the Hammers goal.
Burnley’s one-dimensional attacking play is deeply frustrating to watch. Far too many balls are played square or (worse still) backwards; no incisive runs are coming in behind the defence and a crazy reliance on crosses being delivered from obtuse angles, which are meat and drink to any competent Premier League defensive unit.
The ball is now well and truly in the court of the new owners. It is reported the Clarets’ new Chairman Alan Pace has tested positive for Covid 19, and I am sure Burnley fans everywhere wish him a speedy recovery. Nonetheless, he and his colleagues at the Velocity Sports Partnership must now make good on their promise of transfer funds in the current transfer window.
Burnley are seriously in need of a midfield player with vision and a range of passes, in addition to a speedy and aggressive striker with an instinct for goals. A class right back in the mould of Kieran Trippier would do Sean Dyche and his beleaguered squad a world of good too.
Regular readers will be aware that I afforded the new owners a cautious welcome. They now face their first big test. If they are to maintain the trust and goodwill of the Burnley supporters, and win over doubters such as myself, and secure the eight further victories required to maintain Premier League status; they must support Sean Dyche with deeds, not words.
A thoroughly down in the dumps Dave Thornley, urges the Clarets new owners to splash the cash. (TEC).