Burnley Babes Dream, Slumber and Blunder!
Saturday 10th September 2011 @3pm Kick-Off
If anybody would like any evidence that we might struggle this season, then the performance against Middlesbrough at Turf Moor on Saturday should be enough to spell it out in abundance. A 2-0 defeat did not even begin to tell the story of how bad we were. We were simply shocking and let`s remember this was exactly the same starting eleven that did so well against Derby County at Pride Park before the International break. You could not have seen a more vivid difference in our performance between those two games. Burnley fans were left hoping that the Derby win away was not a fluke after now going three home games without a win and still looking for our first league victory at Turf Moor this season. It was the manner of the defeat though that hurt the most rather than the defeat itself!
We should have been rested after the break, we should have been buoyed up by the Derby win and raring to go again. Instead we put in one of the worst performances I can remember in recent times, probably even worse than anything we ever saw under Brian Laws. Where was the passion? Where was the skill? Where was the determination and more importantly where was the captain and most of the players?
This performance clearly showed why we need experience in the side and why we need more depth in the squad both in terms of quality and quantity. This was a game pitching boys against men and the men of Boro gave the kids a lesson on how to play football. They came with an aggressive game plan; a strategy that tore us to pieces. We simply had no answer to it! Tony Mowbray certainly won this battle over the relatively inexperienced Eddie Howe!
Goalkeeping blunders, a shocking defence, a non-existent midfield, invisible wingers and attack? Exactly what attack? I am not sure I can remember more than two attempts on goal in the whole match?
Boro took about two seconds each time to turn a chance on the break into a promising attack. Time and time again, they looked threatening! We on the other hand spent most of our time clueless passing the ball sideways, backwards and skyward with the Boro defence able to amble back without even breaking sweat.
Let`s be clear on the evidence of this performance, Brian Easton is not the new Danny Fox, Kieran Trippier is hardly a Tyrone Mears, none of the wingers could hold a candle to Chris Eagles and Wade Elliott must be as happy as Larry to have left the sinking ship! As for Marney and McCann, words fail me!
This by the way is not me being grumpy, it is not me being negative, it is me being realistic and being very, very concerned after seeing what I saw on Saturday. This cannot continue or we will quite simply be keeping a closer eye on the three relegation places rather than a top six spot.
I think probably we are still performing as badly as Owen Coyle did in our opening salvoes of our promotion season so perhaps there is still hope but there is one statistic I found recently that sums up the problems Eddie Howe now faces in my opinion! The average age of players signed by Owen Coyle in summer 2008? Well, 25.5. Average age of players signed by Howe in 2011? 21. Busby Babes we were not! I just hope all the directors looking on maybe felt just a little bit of concern and guilt for the lottery and gamble they have now put this club under.
The defeat by the way sees us drop to 19th spot in the table, and although we have a game in hand over most other clubs we are now just one point off the drop zone. In 'Eddie Howe We Trust`? Yes, of course that is still true but put it this way we have to trust he can sort this mess out with the limited squad he now has and quickly starting with some convincing loan signings to bolster the woefully inadequate defence.
Full Match Report
Burnley fans expectations were high before the game after getting the first league win under our belt against high-flying Derby at Pride Park two weeks ago before the International break. Now was the time to plough on and follow that up with our first home win of the season against similar high-flying opposition! Boro before this game were in 4th spot on 11 points from 5 games.
The last game Middlesbrough lost away from home was against the Clarets back in April last season and since that time they had won all four of their Championship games on the road. Now we know the result, it is hard to believe Boro had improved so much whilst Burnley had regressed so badly in under six months.
Eddie Howe as widely predicted decided to stick with the same starting eleven as the Derby game for this clash. Why change a winning team after so comprehensively beating the Rams in their last Championship game? The only changes came on the bench with of course Wade Elliott having left for Birmingham on transfer deadline day effectively being replaced by new signing, Junior Stanislas. The bench had a 'black` look about it with all five being of African or Afro-Caribbean origin. Alex MacDonald was the one to lose out compared to the Rams bench, allowing Marvin Bartley to return following his red card and three-match automatic ban. In summary then the line-up was a s follows:
Jensen, Trippier, Edgar, Mee, Easton, Treacy, McCann, Marney, Wallace, Austin, Rodriguez
Subs: Grant, Amougou, Bartley, Stanislas, Hines
West Yorkshire referee, Mark Haywood got the game underway on a warm, close but showery day in Burnley. Boro fans hearts sank when they were forced to make an early change in defence following the loss of injured defender, Stephen McManus. Former Clarets loan, Rhys Williams dropped back into defence to take up his old role after being used in midfield more-and-more by Boro in recent times. The Boro fans need not have worried though with Burnley failing to test the Boro defence for most of the game.
The scene was set for the remainder of the game after Boro took the lead in virtually their first attack of the match with just 10 minutes gone. Boro hot shot Marvin Emnes started the move catching Burnley out on the break. Barry Robson took up the challenge crossing deep for Hoyte to test the defence with a bobbling high volley in the box. Easton attempted to head clear but the ball fell to Bailey who managed to shoot through a crowd of players to beat a diving Jensen.
The match then seemed to deteriorate into a stop-start scrappy sort of game for a time held up by a sequence of injuries to Boro players which disturbed the natural flow of the game whilst frustrating the Clarets players and fans alike. It was also Boro though and danger man Emnes came close to doubling the lead for the visitors after letting rip with a shot that needed Ben Mee to block the ball after getting his body in the way.
Our first real attempt came on 27 minutes following a corner from a deflected Rodriguez shot. Mee got up to the Wallace delivery heading the ball down for Edgar to collect and attempt a left-footed hooked volley. The top of the crossbar though got in the way and Boro fans could breathe a sigh of relief! That`s all we really had to show for a very disappointing first 45 minutes and if we thought at half-time, things could only get better, we were sadly mistaken!
Eddie Howe did not make any changes for the start of the second-half, perhaps surprisingly after the dire first 45 minutes. He did though try a change in tactics moving to a 3-5-2 formation in an effort to try and boss the midfield and keep Boro`s at bay. Did it work? Did it *****!!
Four minutes into the second half, Boro got the second goal they so richly deserved! Bennett pounced with a sharp finish in the box after a Marvin Emnes shot was blocked by Jensen. The goal though once more exposed the weakness of our defence and our inability to control Boro on the break. Now we had a mountain to climb with most Clarets fans wondering if indeed we were ever going to get out of base camp!
Howe by now at long last had seen enough. On came Stanislas to replace a lacklustre Treacy and make his Clarets debut in the 51st minute. At first he seemed a lively prospect but even he faded in the latter stages.
He did though almost have an immediate impact when he came on looking good as he fed Trippier out on the flank. Trippier linked well with McCann before the captain at long last tested the keeper for our first time in the match! Loan keeper, Carl Ikeme at full stretch had to deal with the vicious drive from McCann just managing to turn the ball round the post. Another chance went begging for the Clarets when Austin picked up the ball after being put clear by Rodriguez. He pulled the trigger too early though and that would be virtually the last action from the striker who suddenly in this match seemed to be the shadow of his former self compared to recent games.
With 20 minutes to play, time for a double-substitution with Hines and Bartley coming on to replace an off-form Austin and Marney. We did look a little sharper to be honest but realistically we never looked like reducing the arrears and most Clarets fans wanted the referee to call time so we could all go home and sulk!
If anybody was going to score, it looked more likely to be Boro who continued to play impressively right up to the end. Boro in typical fashion were once again on the break after one of our corners broke down. Within seconds, we were under pressure again when Hoyte put Emnes clear with just Jensen to beat. Thankfully his touch was poor allowing the Beast to rush out and save the danger and prevent yet more embarrassment for the Clarets on one hell of a poor day at the office.
All Clarets fans could do after four long minutes of added time that nobody wanted, was quickly get off the ground hoping that somehow we could recover our dignity when we play another Boro next Saturday at London Road. Bring on Posh! Perhaps though this time, it was not said with that much enthusiasm!
Burnley: Jensen, Trippier, Mee, Edgar, Easton, McCann, Marney (Bartley 70), Wallace, Treacy (Stanislas 51), Rodriguez, Austin (Hines 70)
Subs Not Used: Grant, Amougou
Booked: Wallace, Treacy, Rodriguez
Middlesbrough: Ikeme, Hoyte, Bennett, Bates, McManus (Haroun 4), Williams, McMahon, Bailey, Robson (Arca 80), McDonald, Emnes (Zemmama 85)
Subs Not Used: Martin, Kink
Goals: Bailey 10, Bennett 49
Booked: Bennett, Robson
Possession 46% Burnley, 54% Middlesbrough (Source: BBC Sport)
Ref: Mark Haywood (West Yorks)
These 13 players had been rested for two weeks and should have been raring to go after Derby. They could not even muster any passion. Terrible and quite frankly a disgrace!