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Watford 0 Burnley 0 (19/01/2019) 20/01/2019

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.
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1- The highlight of the day was the GT stuff, quite obviously. Two years on the club provides all attendees with a drinks voucher, then orchestrates another tremendous scarf display as the players enter the arena. This might have been more effective still but for the unwanted, unneeded and sadly non-negotiable twaddle that is the Premier League anthem as the players solemnly shake hands. It could have been so much more than a stunning visual spectacle. But it is a stunning visual spectacle. There are scarves aloft in the away end too – Claret and Blue stands out a little less than Southampton’s red and white of a year ago, but it’s still a fine thing.

At half time there’s a tribute to Captain Thomas Sawyer ten years after his passing in Afghanistan, the most significant aspect of which is that the club chose to acknowledge something that wasn’t recent, wasn’t prominent in everyone’s consciousness.

It goes without saying that this is a club that is proud of its community and of which its community should be proud.  More so than at any time since GT’s first tenure, a fact unconnected with relative success on the field.  It also flies in the face of quotes attributed to Burnley manager Sean Dyche this week, quotes so lazily inaccurate as to be not worth challenging.  In fairness to Dyche, his stoic attention to the GT tribute and to Duncan Welbourne’s subsequent minute’s applause have been widely reported and it’s unreasonable to on the one hand laud a manager’s rare candour and on the other to object when he talks complete bollocks.  Nobody gets it right all the time.

Nonetheless there are boos mingled with the cheers as Dyche is welcomed over the tannoy.  As team news reveals the absence of the much-speculated Abdoulaye Doucouré with an unannounced knee injury one is forced to wonder whether the afternoon’s drama and emotion has been played out before the game kicked off.

2- And it hasn’t.  Not all of it.  But my god there are meagre pickings on offer for the next two hours.  In exhorting my co-editor to increase his rather miserly attendance rate I’ve argued recently that even the poor games – Newcastle at home being case in point – have been enjoyable.

This one wasn’t.  This one was eye-bleedingly awful.  This one was sit in a traffic jam needing the loo with a broken stereo, late for a flight or something whilst kids bicker in the back seat for two hours awful.  This was the sort of thing that used to provoke a sort of gallows humour back when we were a mid-table second tier club and games like this were an occupational hazard, we had one-liners ready to go.  Here… nobody really new how to handle the mindless tedium.  Hell, there might even have been youngsters here who weren’t born the last time we had a game like this.

At some point I’m going to need to start talking about the football.

3- Actually it started off extraordinarily well.  In retrospect, this could have been a ruse by the visitors to put us off our guard but it seems unlikely that Burnley, the most oblong of opponents, would be capable of such subterfuge.  No, this was mere incompetence on our visitors’ part as they failed to start the game until a good five or ten minutes after Michael Oliver’s whistle.  By this time Troy had twice been allowed to chest the ball down in the middle of the park and turn unchallenged.  On one occasion his sublime through-ball to Deulofeu released the Spaniard through on goal.

The afternoon would, could, should have panned out entirely differently had Deulofeu’s first touch and composure not deserted him, allowing Tom Heaton to hurtle out and give himself a chance.  Given that Gerry’s finishing is, um, a growth opportunity you have to wonder why he so rarely uses his quick feet to try to bypass the keeper in such situations.  Here, Heaton blocked the shot, Deulofeu’s head was in his hands, his first touch walked out on him in disgust taking the kids, not leaving a note, and he sulked his way back towards the halfway line.  Within five minutes there were further chances;  Deulofeu fluffed a free header with a mistimed jump, Ken Sema had a similarly clear chance which didn’t quite drop for him, Troy had a header cleared off the line.  We looked good, but our visitors plain terrible.  Not so much slack as really not playing the same game at all.  The missed chances were shrugged off, the goal, goals, were clearly coming.

4- Until Burnley woke up, quietly got hold of the ball and proceeded to wrest away any semblance of control that we had on the game.  Not that they took control, particularly, though they certainly had the better of it and the better of the subsequent chances.  More that they brutally rejected the concept of control, a nihilistic, anarchic destruction of any semblance of such a thing buried under hurtling bodies and closed down possession.

There’s something admirable about Burnley, in the way that you might quietly, privately, take pride in a very large shit.  Consistent with this analogy however Burnley are a thing best admired from a distance;  you might be capable of a sort of respect but you don’t want to watch it, be close to it, invite it round to dinner. You want to flush it away and forget you ever saw it. There is no joy in it.  It’s just a very large shit.

Troy no longer has time to bring balls down in midfield.  Instead he has Jack Cork shoving him in the ribs, or two opponents double-teaming him – one blocking, one winning the header.  The cowardly thuggish Ashley Barnes is one minute backing into his marker, the next flopping forwards over the ball in anticipation of a challenge from behind to win a free kick.  Hoodwinking the hapless Michael Oliver is an art form, jabs to the ribs synchronised with the turn of his back as perfectly as if this were a dance synchronised to music.  The official increasingly resembles a frantic supply teacher, the pitch of his voice surely rising steadily as he demands respect and receives none in consequence.

5- Not that we deserve a damn thing.  It’s easy to look to the significance of our absentees – the movement of Hughes, the power and dynamism of Doucouré, even the authority of Cathcart though the defence does well enough in fairness.  But the guys left on the pitch needed to do better.  Worst of these is Deulofeu, who disappears up his own backside early on, can’t do a damn thing right and spends much of the game flouncing.  Ken Sema is in many ways his counterpoint…  equally prone to a bad decision, less able to rely on quick feet to compensate, far stronger of mentality.  He keeps going when Deulofeu would give up, shows for the next one, probably deserves better than to be hauled off for Isaac Success in the second half, much as this is the right decision.  Cleverley was a force for good at Palace but struggles here, a ferocious ball to the privates in the second half sums up his afternoon whilst the battle-hardened Phil Bardsley relentlessly forces Bobby Pereyra down the line and Pereyra relentlessly attempts to cut back onto his right foot anyway.  In such circumstances it’s slightly surprising that Pereyra and Sema didn’t swap wings to at least allow Troy the possibility of something to attack via a cutback from the byline.  It’s painful stuff.

5- So, yes, Burnley have the best chances after the first few minutes.  Troy forces Heaton into a stunning reaction stop on half time but against that the Clarets fluff two easy chances, Jeff Hendrick slips a ball agonisingly across the face of the goal in the early minutes and Ben Foster is forced into a number of decent stops.  If we’re looking for a straw to cling to it would be that “we would have lost  this last year” thing.  Except… we should have lost this one really.  Chris Wood’s late offside effort really wasn’t.

So we nod to Lady Luck and scramble off with a point trying to block out the sound of Sean Dyche bitching about referees (again).  And yet… and yet there is a positive to come from today.  Of all the head coaches we’ve gone through since 2012 the two that you’d question the departures of would be Jokanovic and Dyche, probably.  Both vindicated by this season’s developments, I’d argue.

We’re left with the point.  Oh, and that enduring pride in our club and our community.  Seventh in the Premier League and Top of the World in reverse order of importance.

Yoorns.

*Foster 4*, Femenía 3, Holebas 3, Kabasele 3, Mariappa 4, Sema 2, Capoue 3, Cleverley 2, Pereyra 2, Deulofeu 1, Deeney 3
Subs: Success (for Sema, 56) 3, Britos (for Femenía, 77) 0, Masina, Gray, Quina, Wilmot, Gomes

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Comments»

1. John - 20/01/2019

Had tears running down my cheeks…….brilliant!

2. Moralee Reprehensible - 20/01/2019

How tedious Dyche’s wingeing has become. He needs to re-boot himself.

Yesterday’s post-match one was choice. “That’s another decision gone against us”, he began, before saying he wasn’t going to make a big thing of it, having just made a big thing of it. Because he’s such a balanced, reasonable fellow, he added that “you hope these things even themselves out”.

The mind went back to last season’s game, when that massive shove on Mariappa as he jumped for a high free-kick went unpunished and Burnley scored their winner. That would seem to be two key decisions evening themselves out, so you should be happy about that Sean, shouldn’t you? Sean?

3. James - 20/01/2019

Very well summed up. Had me laughing out loud.
I agree with most of your points, just wanted to add something about Etienne Capoue. He was brilliant yesterday. He really held it together, dropping back when needed to help out the, understandably, shaky defence, but still pushing forward whenever possible. MotM for me.
It was also good to see Britos come in and hit the ground running as if he’d never been away.

Rob Payne - 21/01/2019

Totally agree, Capoue was fantastic. In a game lacking quality his drilled pass on the half volley out to Pereya in the first half was worth turning up on it’s own! Also, the fact he was chasing down balls left by Burnely whilst timewasting. Can anybody imagine Capoue doing this under any other manager? Gracia deserves huge credit for his man management of Capoue who has performed at his fantastic best for the longest period since he joined the club.

4. Vespa Crabro - 20/01/2019

Some of the comments regarding Deulofeu are starting to look very reminiscent of the Everton fans opinions when we signed him 12 months ago.

5. David - 20/01/2019

I also thought Capoue was outstanding yesterday but KS, RD, TC and RB offered so little between them I was grateful ay Burnleys time wasting.

6. Harefield Hornet - 20/01/2019

I was interested and almost relieved to see you gave Maps a 4 yesterday. Following the game I commented to the other 3 people I was with that he’d had a decent game and all 3 disagreed completely – saying he was outjumped and bullied and generally poor?! All I seemed to remember was him clearing the lines time after time. Opinions are strange. I just don’t understand how different people can have such polar opposite views on a display?

7. David - 20/01/2019

Grr, GD not RD.

8. petebradshaw - 21/01/2019

Felt like a Burnley this morning but only managed a David Connolly. Carry on.

9. Aylesbury Simmo - 21/01/2019

Brilliant stuff Matt, including what I think is probably the best description ever for Burnley’s style of football…I note Dyche said afterwards that he considered that Burnley’s best away performance of the season which makes me extremely thankful I haven’t had to suffer any of their other matches.
I do wonder about Burnley’s long term prospects. Most promoted teams use each season’s additional Premier League cash to add quality to their team, to lift them above the newly promoted teams. Burnley aren’t doing that though, they are just using same players/same awful style – which for me is not going to be successful long term. As parts of the Aidy Boothroyd era proved, if the end doesn’t justify the means the fans will soon realise they are just watching dreadful football.

10. Old Git - 21/01/2019

I think Dyche’s perceived ‘whingeing’ about having a perfectly legitimate winning goal ruled out is understandable. How would we have reacted in similar circumstances?

To waffle on about ‘I wouldn’t want to have to watch that every week’ is the default position of frustrated home supporters whose side has failed due to its own shortcomings. Burnley had a great season last year and qualified for Europe, an achievement that had a downside – it is widely agreed that their start to this season was seriously undermined by the extra demands of early season European matches.

This left them in a poor position. So what was Dyche supposed to do? Instruct his team to play open, free-flowing and attacking football, like Fulham tried to? Look what has happened to them. When our own side gets a result after playing badly, we praise them for ‘grinding out’ a result, or ‘winning ugly’. Dyche has done terrifically at Burnley and for supporters of clubs with supposedly better players to play the ‘what dreadful football’ card when their own side has been both out-fought and out-thought is in fact doing exactly what they accuse Dyche of doing.

Whingeing.

Rob Payne - 21/01/2019

I agree, in a strange way games like Saturday keep me interested in football. There is no official way to play and to gain points. Football would be very dull if every team played the same way. Burnely have done well playing that way, and if I was a Burnely fan I would enjoy watching a team rolling up their sleeves and being fully committed and upstaging supposedly bigger and better clubs. Yes Saturday wasn’t that pretty, but it was tough and honest, and there were still moments of quality sprinkled around it. As Matt said, even our bad performances have been pretty decent this season, but maybe we needed Saturday to keep our feet on the ground a bit!

11. Jeff Lloyd - 21/01/2019

My 16 year old turned to me at about 70 minutes and said ‘I’m genuinely bored’. It was hard to disagree. His subsequent assertion that ‘at least getting hammered 0-4 by the Cheaters & Dreamers (that’s BAFC to the rest of us) is interesting’ might be harder to take because a point is a point but, well, his point is a point…
I really want to love Ken Sema but he’s desperately limited and it was abundantly clear that Kiko is very reluctant to pass to him as were other players. I’m still cross that the club missed the perfect trick by not giving him the No.4 jersey.

12. Royston RoF - 21/01/2019

At the start I predicted 2-0, after 10 minutes I pedicted 5-0, after 30 minutes I predicted it would be lucky if either team were to score .

If only we had Vydra to take on one on ones…

.Worse reffing this season, appalling
.Burnley are a bunch of thugs, awful to watch, but so well processed, lose the ball and get 7 back in a line, behind a line of 3, horrible to watch but effective

But if my memory is correct it was Turgid against Middlesborough, 0-10, the w/e that GT passed sadly away and last year against the Saints wasnt much better.
I wonder what the great man would have done yesterday….taken away the paper from the oppositions toilets to really bring it home?

13. Dusty - 21/01/2019

Enjoyed reading your work again Matt.

Is it not the nature of a winger to be the creative one? As we have seen, creating ain’t so easy, and nor is the act of actually scoring a goal sometimes. When it goes wrong it’s all too easy to hoot and deride.
People used to speak about one of greatest ever players, John Barnes in the way you do about Gerard D. No doubt feeling the same frustration, finding the suitable scapegoat again and again.
As i recall the end of the game was highlighted by some last minute chances/creations mostly as a result of GD calling for the ball on the right wing.
I realise football is subjective, the Sunday Mirror gave GD a 7, the rest of the team scored lower,which i may of disagreed with.

14. Sequel - 21/01/2019

My son turned to me just before the kick off and, noting the large number of vacant seats in the away section, asked “do they know something we don’t!?”.
They certainly knew something that we strongly suspected, and as the second half wore on I began to wish that I had joined the conga-length queue for the toilets, which had formed at half time due to the cold and/or free drinks. I’ve never been so relieved to hear a full time whistle when not winning.

15. graham walker - 22/01/2019

In times of no Pozzos and next to no money, (and Dyche was our manager around that time) we used to glory in punching above our financial weight and turning in performances like Burnley are doing to get results. I guess their supporters feel the same way. The ends justify the means.

Also, congratulations for the “big shit” paragraph. Close to being the funniest few lines I have read for some considerable time. Hunter S. Thompson would be proud !

16. NickB - 27/01/2019

Worth noting that the Burnley disallowed goal was preceded by a blatant foul on the right wing, right in front of the lino, who inexplicably failed to see it. Wouldn’t have counted under VAR, so in no way unlucky. Unlike my requesting a beer voucher on entry, to be told they’d run out. Nice gesture, but how does that work?

Harefield Hornet - 28/01/2019

The staff tasked with handing them out were obviously keen to offload them quickly so they could go back to whatever else they are usually doing on match-days. I saw them handing out 2 or 3 at a time to some people.

17. Mazzofbradfordonavon - 01/02/2019

“There’s something admirable about Burnley, in the way that you might quietly, privately, take pride in a very large shit”

Wonderful.

Matt Rowson - 01/02/2019

Thank you. Childishly proud of that analogy.


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