Clarets Blog: The players have to shoulder the blame

Many will have trudged away from Turf Moor on Saturday evening thinking the dream of Premier League football next season had slipped away once and for all.

But, amazingly, despite a wretched 2-1 defeat to Paul Jewell’s Ipswich Town side, we are still only three points off sixth place with a game in hand.

Talk about it going down to the wire.

That said, if we are to make the play-offs in a few weeks then we have to play a hell of a lot better than we did on Saturday.

Make no bones about it, at times we were truly woeful.

It was the kind of rudderless performance that we all berated Brian Laws for so openly during his ill-fated spell here.

Now I am not for one minute suggesting we should have stuck with Laws but we have to be honest with ourselves and admit that perhaps some of the blame for the lacklustre first half of the season should have been placed at the feet of the players.

I have no doubt Eddie Howe will turn things around and if we miss out on the play-offs this season then it is the players and not Howe who will have to take a long hard look at themselves.

For too long on Saturday we were below-par and that has been true of the last few games.

The talent is there but the application, at the moment, is missing and Howe has admitted that we are leaving ourselves mountains to climb.

We conceded two poor goals again and if we are to have any ambitions this season then we are going to have to cut these stupid errors out quickly.

The first was a decent effort from David Norris who fired through a melee of bodies after we failed to clear a corner.

The second, I think, is evidence that a change in goalkeeper is well overdue.

How Lee Grant has been lobbed by what was a shockingly bad header from Connor Wickham I will never know and, sadly, it is the latest in a series of bad errors from the keeper.

Brian Jensen is by no means perfect himself - who is? - but I just feel that every mistake from Grant is knocking his confidence and is not helpful to anyone.

There were one or two positives despite the overall feeling of doom and gloom amongst the 14,000-plus crowd.

Debutant Shane Duffy looked comfortable at centre back alongside Andre Bikey although he may feel he should have done better in preventing the first goal.

He looked good with both feet, his distribution for the most part was good and he won pretty much everything in the air.

Jay Rodriguez’s strike was another plus point and will give him a confidence boost after being overlooked for the England Under 21’s last week.

I thought the game changed for the better when Wade Elliott came on, replacing a frustrated Chris Eagles who cannot buy a break at the moment.

It was also good to see Graham Alexander come on and take a step nearer to the magic 1,000 mark.

I’m glad it was a meaningful appearance and not one of those “lets-get-Beckham-to-107-caps” type cameos which I think would devalue the contribution Grezza has made not only here but elsewhere in a cracking career.

We now face difficult trips to Leicester City and Nottingham Forest and one thing is clear, if we play like we did on Saturday - and have done in recent games - then our promotion hopes will be dead in the water by the time we return to the Turf against Swansea City.

Let’s just dare to dream just a little bit longer.

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