What now for Burnley?
After a few crazy years it feels like it’s back to normality for a Burnley fan. For many a year under Stan Ternent and Steve Cotterill we occasionally punched above our weight and flirted with the periphery of the play offs. Owen Coyle’s first full season in charge was like a breath of fresh air, bringing attacking football, a taste of the Premier League and very nearly a cup final following upsets against Fulham, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham. Of course this all peaked with a 1-0 victory in the first Premier League game at Turf Moor vs. Manchester United.
Since then with the sleasy departure of Coyle, hasty appointment of Brian Laws and relegation from the Premier League fans haven’t realigned their expectation as quickly as they were raised in the first place. Eddie Howe’s first full season in charge has been tough. Following a shaky start which seemed to stem from a relatively young and naive team trying to accustom themselves with a new playing style, Burnley kicked into life with a remarkable away win at Hull coming from 2-0 down to win 3-2 in the space of 15 minutes before following this up at West Ham & Brighton.
Personally I feel much of this mini revival was credit to mixing up the style of play with the help of Sam Vokes’ strength and height. Since his departure following the Middlesbrough away win we have struggled for goals from sources other than Jay Rodriguez due to injuries disrupting the form of Martin Paterson and Charlie Austin.
All the while Burnley have struggled for form at home with just 6 home league wins all season, remarkable for a team long credited with having an excellent home record. With the new style play resulting in a great deal of patient build up from the back being a contrast to the fast paced wing play that has previously brought success you can sense the fans frustration, tutting and a significant number of moans from the crowd, all of which does not help the mostly young professionals on the pitch. I’m sure anyone at the 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace could sense that while it has been similar at home draws with Peterborough and Derby County. In previous years the crowd at Turf Moor has been a 12th man and encouraged players, this season I feel it saps energy from them and results in patient build up coming to nothing.
So here we are in late March with nothing to play for but in the most recent West Ham game we raced into a 2-0 lead only to allow some very sloppy defending to throw away 2 points, pretty standard stuff not only for this season but also historically for Burnley fans (Grimsby 6-5 Burnley anyone?).
However all it is not all doom and gloom, we currently have the makings of a fantastic young team that is still in the process of coming together. Kieran Trippier has more than replaced Tyrone Mears, David Edgar is growing into a decent centre half, Danny Ings looks a pacy prospect and Martin Paterson is returning well from injury. Fingers crossed Jay Rodriguez can be retained for another year but somehow I doubt it. I’ll talk about how that may not neccesarily be as critical blow in a future article.
With just a few games left of the season, it will be important to build momentum for next season. Note how teams carrying over strong form such as Norwich, Southampton, Reading and Hull have carried that into successive seasons in recent years. Let’s get behind the team and try and make sure we finish as close to the top 10 as possible!
P.S. Despite Burnley’s Youth Team suffering an FA Youth Cup Semi Final defeat to Blackburn this week. A massive well done must go out to all the boys who did ever so well to get this far, defeating 3 Academy sides along the way. I’m sure we all look forward to seeing some of them make strides into the first team in the not so distant future!