Three Points to End a Tough Week

Last updated : 27 June 2020 By Dave Thornley

First things first; on the off-chance that the individual who thought that it would be a jolly jape to arrange the “White Lives Matter” fly past over the Etihad Stadium last Monday evening is reading this, I would ask; HOW DARE YOU?

How dare you seek to besmirch the name of Burnley Football Club in this way? How dare you presume in your arrogance that your views are representative of those of the club and its supporters?

You are entitled to your odious, narrow-minded and backward-looking ideology (although I would strongly recommend that you read some books on the subject), but how dare you seek to project those views onto the club – my club – and by extension onto me?

Free speech is a privilege to which we all entitled, but with that entitlement comes responsibility and such an openly provocative and prejudicial gesture is a flagrant abuse of that privilege and an abdication of those responsibilities.

I fully expect to receive some backlash, even abuse, on social media for this, and I guarantee that someone will retort with “All lives matter”.

Indeed they do. No one in their right mind would argue with that statement, all lives do matter: black lives, brown lives, white lives, gay lives, straight lives, male lives, female lives.

All lives should be subject to the same treatment under the law and have access to the same opportunities in life, irrespective of something as inconsequential as skin pigmentation, sexual orientation or gender. If that is the hill upon which you are willing to make your stand, then you have my support.

Last Monday night was a traumatic one for the club. Even without the controversy stirred up by the fly past. Playing away to Manchester City usually becomes an exercise in damage limitation for the Clarets, and so it proved again. The 5-0 defeat had a sense of inevitability about it as Burnley’s tactical plan seemed to consist of standing back and admiring City’s precision passing game, with no thought of engaging in the contest.

Fortunately, City “declared” at five, and the last twenty minutes or so resembled a low-intensity training session as City lazily toyed with their hapless opponents.

Hapless and under-staffed; whilst the backsides of Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling rested on City’s bench; Burnley’s consisted of two goalkeepers, a bunch of untried youngsters and the ever-reliable Kevin Long.

The reason of course is that, along with injuries to Barnes, Wood, Brady and Gudmundsson; there is the contractual impasse which has seen Joe Hart, Aaron Lennon and Jeff Hendrick leave the club and Phil Bardsley hold out until after the City match, at which point he renewed.

The situation seems to have brought Sean Dyche into open conflict with Chairman Mike Garlick, raising doubts as to Dyche’s future at the club.

It is possible to look at the conflict from both sides; Dyche is employed to win football matches, and if that endeavour is undermined by a lack of players, then he cannot perform his job adequately. And if it is the Chairman himself who is undermining those efforts, no wonder he is upset.

It would be reasonable to assume that there are times when Dyche ponders over managing a club with a depth and talent in the squad, a thriving academy and a plump transfer budget. Goodness knows, he deserves no less for the work he has done at Burnley. But were he to leave in a huff, then the likelihood is that his next appointment will be at best a sideways move.

Garlick, on the other hand, is perhaps considering the adverse effects that might well follow after the lockdown and is wary of what happened to other clubs who over-extended their finances and flew too close to the sun. In the Premier League however, standing still is not an option, and he has an obligation to support his manager.

Can the two resolve their differences, find common ground and resume what has hitherto been a productive working relationship? I hope so, but I fear not. If the Burnley Chairman can properly, retrospectively evaluate the benefit of spending ten million quid to bolster the Turf Moor first team playing squad, he needs look no further than the immediate impact of Josh Brownhill. Enough said!

At least Thursday tea time’s win over Watford will have helped.  Burnley were back to doing what they usually do so well; clean sheet, home win, job done.  Jay Rodriguez’ deft near-post header to guide Dwight McNeill’s cross past Ben Foster was the decisive moment in a game which Burnley more or less had under control, save for a spell of Watford pressure at the start of the second half, which Burnley’s defence was able to repel.

The win sees Burnley ease past the forty point mark beyond which security of Premier League tenure is generally assured; this is always a relief, especially so in a season disrupted on an unprecedented scale and which will be played out in the eerie surroundings of empty stadia.

It was oddly disconcerting to see one’s seat in the Jimmy Mac stand obscured by a Claret tarpaulin. But at least football is being played again, and for that we should offer grateful thanks for the heroic efforts of the key workers, particularly those in the NHS, who placed themselves at risk to keep others safe.

Clarets Mad regular commentator Dave Thornley ends the reminisces and gets back to business following the English Premier League layoff. Just a gentle reminder to all of our readers that Dave’s reports and opinions are entirely his own.

Unlike many other forums and message boards, freedom of expression and speech is allowed in its entirety on Clarets Mad. Since the games resumed, three points out of a possible six for the Clarets is not too shabby either! (TEC).