Clarets Sleepwalk into Walkers Disgrace!
The Walkers Stadium
Saturday 9th April 2011 @3pm Kick-Off
The nightmare continues for the Clarets after our biggest league defeat on the road this season following a 4-0 drubbing by Leicester at the Walkers Stadium. This is not the time to mince words and try and find positives from this match. We were absolute dross and failed to perform adequately in any department. This is simply not good enough with Clarets fans at a loss to explain why we have singularly failed to show any passion, drive, determination or skill to win in the last five games with just one point now over that period from a possible fifteen. You could also probably count on one hand (two at most) the number of attempts on target we have had since our last win away to Hull on Tuesday 8th March. It is really, really painful to watch and quite frankly an utter embarrassment. All the five teams we have played recently have been nothing but mediocre and that shows how far we have plummeted with far too many gutless performances of late. It is so bad you just wonder if something has happened behind the scenes to affect confidence and morale so much.
We all thought it was bad under Brian Laws but we never had such a poor run of form under his guidance this season and we all remember that 19 winless streak under Steve Cotterill but I am sure we played better at times during that awful period too. We had our bad runs under Owen Coyle too but never like this. I can safely say then this is the worst I have seen them play in any period since Stan Ternent waved goodbye with a tear in his eye. What the hell has happened?
The writing is now surely on the wall with the season over barring a miracle and a sudden return to form in the seven games of 2010-11 remaining. This dismal result and terrible performance against the Foxes sees Burnley drop to 11th in the table. We have 57 points from 39 games and even if we won our game in hand we would still be four points behind the sixth-placed club, Leeds United. Only a win at Elland Road in our penultimate game of the season would probably give us a chance of catching them now and by then it could well be season over anyway if this terrible form has continued.
Until the 4-0 drubbing, we had not lost at the Walkers Stadium but our lucky ground certainly deserted us this time. Leicester had not even scored against us on this ground which opened in 2002. We had previously enjoyed four 1-0 wins and a goalless draw but the Foxes certainly got their revenge this time.
The big debate yesterday after this awful result was whether in the main the manager was to blame for his tactics and team choice or whether it was simply the players who are just not delivering no matter what formation and tactics are employed.
It is probably a mixture of both but the buck always stops at the manager`s door and you could certainly question his team tactics and choice of eighteen yesterday.
Yes, to some degree his hands were tied with Danny Fox suspended and in midfield both Jack Cork and Marvin Bartley out injured but his team selection certainly looked odd on paper.
Is the problem we are now making too many changes for the start of each game allowing little time for the new line-ups to bed in?
We certainly wrung the changes yesterday.
Brian Jensen returned in goal for the first time since the 4-0 home defeat against Reading back in October. 'The Beast 'must really hate that score line now although to be honest you could not blame him for any of the goals against Leicester.
There was also a change in the back four. New loan central defender from Everton, Shane Duffy made his full debut for the Clarets in the previous game at home to Ipswich after replacing Clarke Carlisle and showed some promise without being spectacular. He was however dropped to the bench in favour of Michael Duff for the Foxes clash.
The biggest changes though came in midfield and up front. Clarets fans were bemused when we announced three recognised strikers in the starting eleven. Delfouneso, Iwelumo and Rodriguez were all named in the line-up but surely we were not going to play with three up front?
Wade Elliott too was back in the starting eleven. He had replaced the woefully out-of-form Chris Eagles in the 67th minute against Ipswich and on the wing began to give some Burnley hope despite being 2-0 down at the time. There was no doubt we had our best spell with Elliott on the wing.
So what does Howe do? Selects Elliott and plays him in centre midfield and puts Delfouneso out wide. Bizarre! I just do not get this striker on the wing business but the last four managers have tried the tactic. Paterson, Rodriguez and Delfouneso are not wingers so why do we persist in putting them out there? Elliott is a winger and yet we keep playing him in centre midfield where he never seems as effective. Wallace is a winger so we don`t even select him and put him on the bench and yet Chris Eagles who is clearly off-form continues to be selected. Oh well, who would be manager?
There was one bit of good news for Clarets fans with Steve Thompson returning following a spell out of contention after an operation to fix an infected groin problem. He was named on the bench for the first time since the Preston game at Deepdale last February.
This was the line-up in the end:
Jensen, Mears, Duff, Bikey, Easton, Eagles, Elliott, Marney, Delfouneso, Rodriguez, Iwelumo
Subs: Grant, Duffy, Carlisle, Alexander, Edgar, Wallace, Thompson,
It just seemed in the end that we had a plethora of wingers and strikers playing out-of-position with one man in midfield, Dean Marney running around like a headless chicken with little support.
Wirral referee, Mike Dean got the match underway on a wonderful summer-like sunny day in Leicester. The sun though would prove to be the only bright spot for Clarets fans over the next ninety minutes.
It is always difficult for an Editor to write match reports after such a defeat and woeful performance and this one is no exception. The temptation is just to summarise the match as utter bollox and have a day off from writing ensconced in the pub drowning your sorrows!
However there are a few masochists out there so just for you...
Jensen was certainly tested in the early stages of this match with Leicester storming out of the blocks. He looked to be handling the situation well at first considering he had not played since October. A couple of dangerous looking crosses were easily snuffed out by the imposing Great Dane.
Burnley though came into it for a short spell after Delfouneso got in a shot that tested the Foxes keeper. Weale though diving at full stretch managed to turn the ball round the post. Chris Eagles too came close with a shot from a corner but his attempt was blocked by Van Aanholt in front of goal.
That was it though for Burnley and now the Foxes again turned the screw putting together some nice passes. King could easily have had a brace during this impressive spell, but the leading Foxes goal-scorer fluffed both attempts after miscuing in good positions. The pressure soon paid off though and Burnley found they were a goal behind in the 23rd minute. Yakubu charging into the box found the ball taken off him by Fulham on-loan striker, Diomansy Kamara. He let rip with a low shot that beat Jensen all the way into the bottom corner of the net.
It was now Leicester who took charge of the game but at least the Clarets found the resolve defensively to limit the score to 1-0 at half-time. Something though was clearly not clicking and the shape of the team looked completely wrong. Howe though soldiered on and made no changes for the start of the second half.
Burnley started quite brightly in the second half with Mears coming close with a half-chance in the first minute from the re-start. Delfouneso on a good run crossed over the ball. The Foxes keeper though dropped the ball in the penalty area with Mears about to pounce. It was an awkward height though for the full-back and his volley under pressure from the Leicester defenders sailed high over the post.
It was not going to last though and Leicester again quickly asserted their authority doubling their lead on 52 minutes thanks to a dubious penalty decision. Kamara on the edge of the box picked up a pass from Gallagher and ran into the area only to be brought down by Bikey in a pretty tame looking challenge. Dean pointed to the spot, a decision which incensed Bikey who chucked a right tantrum against the linesman and was lucky to stay on the pitch.
Gallagher stepped up to the mark. The former Blackburn player squeezed the ball under Jensen and now Clarets fans knew it would be game over despite 38 minutes still to play! We don`t do comebacks anymore and indeed never looked like doing so for the rest of the game as things simply went from bad to worse.
It was all Leicester now and we had to thank Duff for an excellent final last ditch tackle to deny Yakubu after he had been put through on goal by a rampant Kamara.
Bikey got in a header from an Elliott free-kick that went over the bar and he then came to the rescue at the other end denying King with a good block.
It was soon 3-0 Leicester though after Gallagher thumped home a 30 yard drive past Jensen into the corner of the net with still twenty minutes to play. Distraught Clarets fans could now only look on at the horror show unfolding.
Rather too little too late, Howe decided to change things round. On came Steven Thompson making a welcome return after his groin injury replacing the totally ineffective Iwelumo on 73 minutes. He was joined by Ross Wallace with Wade Elliott making way for the former Preston winger.
Needless to say the changes made no effect whatsoever with Sven also showing the depth in his squad by bringing on Steve Howard and Darius Vassell.
The salt was firmly rubbed in the Clarets fans eyes when Van Aanholt made the score 4-0 in the 81st minute. It was a cracking goal too with the ball curling sweetly into the net following some nice passing approach work by the Foxes.
It may have been a sweet goal for the Foxes fans but it certainly left a bitter taste in the mouths of Clarets fans who were now totally ashamed and leaving in their droves!
It could have been worse too after first a Wellens volley hit the bar before with five minutes left to play; the hated Gallagher who had been taunting the Clarets fans all afternoon nearly got his hat-trick. He was denied though by Jensen getting his fingertips to the ball.
Those that had braved the match to the end were relieved to hear the final whistle bringing to an end an awful afternoon for anybody associated with Burnley Football Club. We had just been beaten by a team that had only won one of their last seven games and not only that we had been thoroughly outplayed and humiliated.
Where do we go from here? Well the play-offs now look a distant dream although they are of course still mathematically possible but it is clear we have to improve significantly in our remaining seven games to stand any chance of a top six finish.
I suspect in our hearts we all know we face at least another season in the Championship and we all know by not reaching the play-offs this season it will be seen as a failure but in many ways a pretty predictable one.
Somehow we have to rebuild in the summer. Too many of our players look jaded and a cull looks on the cards with Eddie Howe now tasked to build his own team. Our financial stability despite the 'We have gone down stronger` chants from the Board following our relegation from the top flight last season I suspect are still not that healthy and we shall have to see what sort of money is made available to rebuild for 2011-12. Parachute money does not last forever and if gates fall further and the wages are slashed, what sort of motivated team challenging for promotion next season will we get? Will we indeed get one before the mid-table mediocrity bug and pleading poverty cycle starts all over again? You should have spent more last season Kilby and that`s a fact!
Leicester: Weale, Van Aanholt, Miguel Vitor, Bamba, Mee, Oakley (Abe 79), King, Wellens, Gallagher, Yakubu (Howard 73), Kamara (Vassell 73)
Subs Not Used: Ricardo, Berner, Moreno, Dyer
Goals: Kamara 23, Gallagher 52 (pen) and 71, Van Aanholt 81
Burnley: Jensen, Mears, Duff, Bikey, Easton, Marney, Elliott (Wallace 73), Eagles, Iwelumo (Thompson 73), Rodriguez (Alexander 86), Delfouneso
Subs Not Used: Grant, Carlisle, Duffy, Edgar
Booked: Yellow Cards for Bikey, Marney and Rodriguez
Possession: 53% Leicester City, 47% Burnley (Source: BBC Sport)
Ref: Mike Dean (Wirral, Cheshire)