As a friend remarked on the final whistle, Saturday’s defeat to Millwall was exactly the kind of game to make you glad the start of the cricket season is just around the corner.
Yet perhaps defeat is the wrong word: capitulation more accurately describes the lame and limp surrender of three points to a team who hadn’t won in seven previous attempts.
Other than Michael Duff’s muck and nettles defending and Chris McCann’s cruelly curtailed cameo, this was, by Eddie Howe’s own admission, as poor a Burnley display as there has been all season.
Things might have turned out better had the manager more options available to him from the bench. But what Saturday underlined was the threadbare nature of his playing resources: hence the Clarets finishing the game with a chronically lob-sided looking line-up of five defenders, three strikers, one winger and a solitary central midfielder.
One of the few advantages of having a small squad is that everyone gets a chance; which made it all the more perplexing that neither Marvin Bartley nor Keith Treacy took theirs.
Bartley’s display was so startlingly lethargic, you could have been forgiven for thinking that it was he rather than Dean Marney who had endured a torrid and sleepless night. Treacy, meanwhile, spent 45 minutes reminding supporters why he’s only ever called on in an emergency. He was fortunate to last until half time before being given the hook.
Not that he’s the only under-performing winger just now. Ross Wallace’s performances can be filed under “ever-diminishing returns”, while it’s fair to say the team has not suffered from having Junior Stanislas sidelined for the last month. Disturbingly, our right back remains our most potent winger.
In fact, although much has been made of Howe’s potential attacking options, the truth is that theory has not translated into practice.
Charlie Austin has yet to re-discover his pre-injury golden touch, Martin Paterson may hare about like a kid chasing pigeons, but is massively injury-prone and has scored just once this campaign, Danny Ings has yet to bed in, Josh McQuoid fails to convince and quite what Zavon Hines is doing at Turf Moor is anybody’s guess.
All of which means that the Clarets are dangerously over-reliant on Jay Rodriguez. Since the turn of the year Burnley have notched 10 goals, seven of them from the boot or head of our star man.
It’s high time the squad’s under-achievers started helping out.