After a weekend which yielded the worst sequence of results imaginable for the team from Turf Moor. Burnley’s slide down the Premier League table continues inexorably, like the melting of the polar ice-caps and with consequences almost as alarming.
Make no mistake about it, the next four fixtures are the most important Burnley Football Club the club has faced for thirty years, when Burnley’s very future as a Football League entity was at stake.
There is always a yo-yo club, a team which shuffles between the top two divisions, until eventually finding their appropriate level. For some, such as West Bromwich Albion and Crystal Palace, that niche is found within the English Premier League.
But for others, QPR and Norwich for example, the strain of mounting a promotion charge immediately after unsuccessfully batting relegation becomes too much and they become stuck in the cloying mud at the bottom of the Championship swamp.
Currently Burnley are the very essence of a yo-yo club and should they suffer their second relegation in three seasons, the fear is that the best players will migrate elsewhere, the fans will become demoralised and it would be the latter course which lays in wait.
Against Manchester United yesterday, Burnley were on the receiving end of a Mourinho masterclass. Having established a 2-0 lead, United expertly closed the game down, conserving vital energy ahead of Thursday’s Manchester derby. The problem was that they found the Clarets to be accommodating hosts in this regard, and Burnley’s inability to disrupt, or even mildly inconvenience, Mourinho’s plans, was perhaps the most troubling thing of all.
The deployment of Marouane Fellaini to mark Ashley Barnes was a master stroke. The lanky Belgian with the Brian May hair-do had much the better of the tussle, although I understand Don King is eager to promote a re-match.
Burnley’s reliance on Barnes to win the aerial duels and feed Andre Gray was thus rendered impotent. Without any suitable alternative service from a ponderous midfield, or penetration down the wings, Gray was left with little to work with.
Eric Bailly and Daley Blind working perfectly in tandem were therefore allowed to enjoy one of their more comfortable afternoons.
It was both a depressing and deeply frustrating spectacle for Clarets fans to endure, but one which has become all too familiar in recent weeks.
But enough of the gloom and doom, let us all including Sean Dyche, his players and Burnley supporters gird our loins, stiffen our sinews and screw our courage to the sticking place.
Now is the time to come together, stand up and be counted, a time to banish negativity, a time to ignore other fixtures and pour every last scrap of effort into securing the final twelve points which remain on offer.
This is a time to harness the spirit of the late, great Ian Britton and honour his memory with stirring performances and a resonating battle cry of, "COME ON YOU CLARETS"!
This reflection was written by long suffering Burnley fan and regular contributor to Clarets Mad, Dave Thornley. (TEC).