Clarets blog: Talk of the play-offs now seems so fanciful

First published in Stephen Cummings Lancashire Telegraph: Photograph of the Author by , Burnley FC fan columnist

SO it turns out that it’s true after all: what goes around really does comes around. And now we know exactly how supporters of Hull City felt at the back end of last November, as they disbelievingly watched their team turn a comfortable second-half 2-0 lead into a 2-3 defeat.

That result proved the catalyst for an upturn in fortunes for Burnley, who, on the back of their unlikely come-back, went on to win five of the next six games. There was even talk of making a push for the top six.

Now, sitting eight points of the play-off pace on the back of four defeats in the last five, such talk seems fanciful.

The truth is that the class of 2011/12 is a work in progress and a number of tweaks and realignments are required before this group of players can realistically compete for a return to the Premier League.

One of the adjustments required is to add a little more experience to the team.

No-one is advocating a return to the recruitment policy of Stan Ternent, when, for a time, anyone under the age of 30 was viewed with suspicion.

But there’s nothing wrong with having a couple of players on your books who have been around the block once or twice.

Sir Alex Ferguson, for example, seems to be doing just fine with Messrs Giggs and Scholes in his starting line-up.

Nowhere was this better evidenced than between 4.10pm and 4.32pm on Saturday, when Burnley somehow contrived to undo all their previous good work in the space of 22 second-half minutes.

In the first period, with the seasoned Michael Duff marshalling, organising and prompting at the heart of the back-line, Burnley had worked themselves into a comfortable 0-2 lead.

When Duff was unable to re-emerge for the second half however, Burnley’s defence, to paraphrase the Hornets’ most famous patron, showed about as much resistance as a candle in the wind.

Without the calming and ordered presence of the 33-year-old, Messrs Easton, Trippier, Mee and Edgar turned into a collective basket-case.

It wasn’t even as if they were being bamboozled by quick, dazzling and inventive forward play from their hosts.

It was rather a succession of long-balls, set pieces and hopeful punts in the general direction of the goal they were supposed to be defending.

One can’t help but feel that had Duff still been on the pitch, things would have been very different come 4.50pm.


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