Life of Brian
Sunday 28th March 2010 @ 12 noon
Burnley put in yet another abject performance at Turf Moor on Sunday losing 1-0 in the big derby game against Blackburn Rovers. They fell to a controversial penalty after 20 minutes when Jensen was adjudged to have brought down Olsson. It clearly was not a penalty but despite the protests and consultation between referee, Mike Dean and his assistant the decision stood and David Dunn made no mistake from the spot-kick.
Yes a cruel decision but to be honest we deserved to get beat in this game. We were simply not at the races and that is what was so disappointing after all the derby hype from Brian Laws and some of the players. The team should have been up for this and shown some passion and grit but instead they played like something that rhymes with grit!
Seven shots on goal during the whole match with just three on target is simply not good enough and nor is the lacklustre performance in all areas of the park. I was ashamed of that performance and the players should be too. For heaven`s sake this was Blackburn Rovers! Playing like that was nothing short of disgraceful. To let Rovers fans keep the East Lancs bragging rights under those circumstances was a farce and no amount of positive spin from Brian Laws including whinging about the penalty will change my view. A 0-0 draw would have been a useless result anyway and we certainly never looked like winning it.
I seriously don`t know where our team has gone. These are essentially the same set of players that beat Manchester United, Everton, Sunderland and Birmingham at Turf Moor earlier in the season with such style and desire. They look a beaten side before they even kick-off these days and the fans seem to sense as much. Has Coyle taken their hearts and souls and left just their shadows? Are some too busy thinking about rejoining him in the summer or moving on in general? They just don`t seem to have enough spirit, desire and motivation to win under Laws even in such a high-profile derby as this.
Brian Laws clearly has problems motivating these players to perform to the quality required but at the end of the day the players must also share the blame for putting in such a poor performance.
I can take defeats, even against that lot from down the wrong end of the M65 but what I can`t take is that gutless performance. We expect better and when the final whistle went the silence from the Turf Moor faithful told its own story. That story was probably 'The Life of Brian`, in this case the Laws variety. His record I am afraid has been shameful. One win and one draw in thirteen games says it all-not good enough! A defeat to bottom club Pompey, defeats to Wigan and Wolves and now this against Blackburn? I was fearful that the crowd might take it out on Laws and the players but I think the fans were so stunned by that shocking performance they had no emotions left as yet another tragic comedy at Turf Moor came to an end. We are almost gone now and I don`t think any Clarets fan seriously believes we can recover from this and avoid relegation. Yes, of course it`s still mathematically possible but when you look at the team you just don`t have the confidence in them, something is missing, something is not working and Laws does not seem to have the answers.
I spent quite a bit looking at Barry Kilby in the Directors Box yesterday. Let`s face it; the action on the pitch was hardly riveting enough to hold your attention! His face said it all and you could almost read on his forehead 'I just may have got this wrong!` I will leave it up to you to decide what I mean by that but in the meantime I suggest we all start singing 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life` . We are after all being crucified by everybody at the moment!
The Clarets Team Sheet
At least Brian Laws decided to stick with consistency for this match and named his first unchanged starting eleven since joining the club in January. There was just one change to the eighteen with Carlisle returning after injury to replace Bikey on the bench. After the encouraging performance against Wigan a week last Saturday it was right that he showed confidence in them by naming the same starting eleven for the Rovers clash although it is a shame with the benefit of hindsight that they didn`t rise to the occasion!
Jensen, Mears, Duff, Cort, Jordan, Alexander, Elliott, McDonald, Paterson, Nugent, Fletcher
Subs: Weaver, Fox, Carlisle, Cork, Blake, Eagles, Thompson
The Full Match Report
Something is clearly wrong with the atmosphere at Turf Moor these days. Although Clarets fans are still turning up in numbers, the enthusiasm seems to have waned and the singing sounds half-hearted at best. As Clarets fans trickled into the ground, the Rovers fans shepherded into Turf Moor early en masse straight off the convoy of coaches were already in fine voice. In all honesty 2400 Rovers fans seemed to drown out 19,000 Clarets fans for most of the game and their taunts made it a miserable day for anybody wearing Claret & Blue. I just wonder what demoralising effect the Rovers fans singing 'Owen Coyle da der da da` had on the players. If anything it should have stirred them up to fight but it didn`t.
Clarets fans are clearly nervous and apprehensive. Alastair Campbell in the match-day Claret & You programme quoted US President Roosevelt who said 'believe you can and you are half-way there`. The problem is I don`t think the belief is there, certainly amongst the fans and that negative energy is being transferred onto the pitch.
Wirral referee, Mike Dean got the game underway and it soon became evident this was going to be a nervous, scrappy affair. Blackburn looked to have taken an early lead though after Olsson`s shot flew into the back of the net but thankfully the whistle had blown for offside. We were lucky as the offside decision was to say the least debatable but our luck would not last. Rovers took the lead from a penalty after 20 minutes following a blatant piece of cheating by Olsson.
Jensen was adjudged by referee Mike Dean to have tripped the Swede and David Dunn duly converted from the spot.
It was quite clear that Olsson took a dive and there had been no contact. He even admitted so himself after the game and is quoted as saying:
"I thought that I was going to get a yellow card. I saw that he (Jensen) stuck his foot out, but I might have overacted a little. When the referee blew I thought he was going to give me a yellow card, but it's up to the referee in that situation."
There is no point in whinging about it though. We were not playing well at the time and Rovers deserved to be in front. No doubt the statistic that we had not come back from a goal down all season to win a match was now eating away at the back of the players` minds because there was no improvement in performance, passion or desire for the rest of the first half.
The game deteriorated into a scrap in midfield with few attempts on goal at either end. Rovers soaked up the few attempts we had and their defence looked solid. We just couldn`t seem to get our passing game going and resorted to long-ball punts all of which were manna from heaven for the Rovers back-four. Our best chance in the first half came when Alexander and Paterson linked well to set-up Elliott. A clumsy foul by Samba brought Elliott down and he was lucky the trip was just a few inches outside the box. He was nevertheless yellow-carded for the poor challenge. The free kick came to nothing though with Samba making amends and heading away to safety.
Rovers came close to doubling their lead from a free-kick of their own when the ball fell nicely to Salgado lurking in the penalty area. He put his shot just wide though and the Clarets could breathe a sigh of relief.
The Clarets then had their best chance of the game to equalise with two minutes of the half remaining. Alexander from a free kick found Cort who controlled the ball well on his chest before unleashing a shot. His volley though was just wide of target and flew past the far post.
A disappointing half for the Clarets came to an end with Rovers deserving their 1-0 lead at half-time.
Laws made no changes for the start of the second half and at least for a time we now played with more urgency and passion pegging Rovers back in their own half more and more. We just could not break through their strong, powerful defence though and it was clear we needed a Plan B.
Blake came on after 59 minutes to replace Paterson who had been pretty ineffective playing out wide but we still struggled to break down their defence and indeed it was now Rovers who came close to scoring.
Olsson who had been a live wire all afternoon thumped a shot that hit the underside of the bar and the Clarets were lucky that the ball bouncing downwards did not cross the line. The Swede then brought out a save from Jensen after being set free from what looked like an offside position.
By now the Clarets were running out of ideas and goal scoring opportunities were few and far between. With the game slipping away from the Clarets, Laws decided to bring on Eagles with 20 minutes to go but the effect was pretty minimal.
Nothing was working for Laws and just to rub salt in our wounds; it was Rovers substitute, Di Santo who came the closest to scoring with his first touch. He headed just wide though
Our set-pieces were also failing miserably and we couldn`t even seem to put them under pressure from our free kicks.
The Clarets had one final chance with nine minutes to go. Danny Fox got in a low cross that just needed a tap in as it whizzed across the goal. Samba got in a touch though that took the ball away from both Elliott and Fletcher and the danger passed.
A very disappointing game finally came to a close and even the announcement of five minutes of added time did little to motivate the Clarets fans who were now resigned to defeat and probable relegation this season. Quite frankly this performance was not good enough although it was certainly not helped by some awful decisions by the referee and his officials. We deserve better than this but it looks like 2010 is not going to be our year unless somehow we can find at least three wins from our last remaining six games. Alastair Campbell in Claret & You said "Whilst there is belief in the squad, there must be belief among the fans`" Do the players still have belief after that performance? Clarets fans had to leave Turf Moor with the echoing noise of the locked-in Rovers fans from the Cricket Field Stand shouting 'We are having a Party When Burnley go Down`. We couldn`t even make a quick exit thanks to the Police cordons and that just seemed to sum up the day. Premier League? You are having a Laff!
Burnley: Jensen, Mears, Duff, Cort, Jordan (Fox 43 mins), Alexander (Eagles 71 mins), Elliott, McDonald, Paterson (Blake 59 mins), Nugent, Fletcher
Subs not used: Weaver, Carlisle, Cork, Thompson
Booked: Yellow Cards for Alexander, Duff and Fox
Blackburn Rovers: Brown, Samba, Givet, Olsson, Salgado (Chimbonda 84), Jones, Dunn, Pedersen, Nzonzi, Roberts (Di Santo 74), Diouf (Emerton 65),
Subs not used: Bunn, Grella, Kalinic, Hoilett
Goal: Dunn (pen) 20
Booked: Yellow Cards for Samba and Givet
Possession: 49 % Burnley, 51% Blackburn (Source: BBC Sport)
Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral)