Burnley Seek Perfection in Perth
Burnley play their second and final match of their Scottish Tour today against St Johnstone at the McDiarmid Park in Perth. Indeed the game will bring to an end their pre-season schedule of friendlies with just seven days to go now before we start our first ever campaign in the Premier League against Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday 15th August.
The Clarets although they might now be at the peak of fitness have struggled in recent pre-season games to put in a good performance. By Owen Coyle`s own admission, the side need to start improving their speed of thought, movement and passing and they haven`t got long to convince Clarets fans that they have achieved it.
Coyle does not seem unduly concerned about the results of the recent friendly games but Clarets fans have not been to too happy with either the results or performance of the team since they returned from their US Tour. They have not won one match and have only managed a draw away to League Two, Accrington Stanley(2-2) followed by two defeats to League One, Leeds United at Turf Moor(1-2)and earlier this week to Kilmarnock at Rugby Park(1-0). Results of course do not matter in friendlies but the manner in which the team play is perhaps more important and so far the team have not been too impressive.
They will certainly need to up their game in time for the challenges ahead. A good performance and victory at St Johnstone today would restore some faith and confidence giving us all a boost as we prepare for the Premier League kick-off next Saturday. At least Stoke City`s campaign has also been a bit of disaster. They have lost to three non-league sides, Newcastle Town, Nantwich and Newport, were defeated 2-1 by Preston and could only manage a draw and one defeat on their Austrian Tour. The Vital Stoke editor commented on friendlies as follows:
"Yes, I know it's only a friendly - 'a chance for players to get fit and for the manager to try new players and tactics', but there's always a feel good factor for fans and players alike that a 'good' pre-season may roll into a good start to the season proper."
I think that sums it up perfectly from the fans perspective.
At least in the last fifteen minutes of our last match up in Scotland against Kilmarnock, there were some encouraging signs that our passing game and pace was beginning to show significant signs of improvement and a lot of that was down to our new signing, Fernando Guerrero. The 19 year old left winger only signed for the Clarets from Ecuador Serie B side, Independiente del Valle on a season long loan in midweek and was immediately in the squad for the Scottish tour. Coyle brought him on for the last 20 minutes of the game against Killie and his pace and skill brightened an otherwise dismal match for Clarets fans.
The team selection today will be quite interesting and I suspect at least one of the line-ups, probably the starting line-up could feature the team Coyle has in mind for our opener against Stoke City on the 15th. All eyes will once more be on the new signings, especially the exciting prospect, Guerrero.
There are no reports of any new injuries from the match against Kilmarnock, so it seems that once again Owen Coyle may have virtually a full squad to choose from. Two players have not featured recently due to injury. Martin Paterson has not played since picking up a hamstring injury in training before the first match of our US Tour sitting out the last five matches. Michael Duff injured his ankle in the match against Portland Timbers in the US and has missed the last three pre-season friendlies. Owen Coyle was optimistic before the Scottish tour that both would feature at some point.
Clarets fans are reminded that this kick-off has been brought forward to a 2pm kick-off after Police realised our arch rivals, Blackburn Rovers were also in the area playing Dundee United. Clearly avoiding any confrontation between the loony contingents from the two East Lancashire towns would seem a good idea
Come on you Clarets, let`s end the pre-season campaign in style and hold our heads high in Staffordshire next Saturday.