Cuban Claret provides his match preview ahead of the game against Wigan at Turf Moor this Saturday and reflects on the defeat at the hands of Rovers last Sunday
WHILE Sunday’s derby day defeat left Burnley fans wounded, the players, in their after match interviews, looked devastated.
Immediate talk of revenge in March reflected their mood. Post-match, Robbie Blake and Steven Caldwell were notably icy, like they had let an opportunity to reward the supporters with the ultimate victory, slip from their grasp. They were being unfair on themselves. While we all know our players might have played better than they did at Ewood, it wasn’t down to lack of effort. It was a lack of composure in the heat of the battle that cost us.
Early goals can get teams giddy and our feet hardly touched the ground between Blake’s wonder-strike and David Dunn’s swift reply. The speed of the recovery, capped by the sickeningly dreadful second goal from a defensive point of view, was most telling towards the final outcome.
It turned out Blake’s dismay was deepened by the Blackburn players’ apparently classless celebrations. Tales of banging on the changing room walls and inappropriate chanting were reported. One wonders if the Rovers players share their followers’ obsession with being ‘interrr bred.’
It was universally established that the best team on the day won. The really positive end to it all is that Rovers consider they played very well while we can do much better. There was also the small matter of home advantage which seems to have gone unnoticed in many a post-match analysis.
Burnley’s powers of recovery remain an undervalued virtue by the wider watching football world. Owen Coyle goes from being described as ‘the best young manager in the Premier League destined for a top four club’ to ‘naive’ from game to game. The latter description is as insulting as the first is hyped.
‘Write us off at your peril’ was Coyle’s post-match reaction to pre-empt the ensuing slating. When we lost 5-0 at Ewood in April 2001, we followed it up with a 3-0 home win against Preston and played like wounded animals. Wigan beware.
The next two games against Wigan and Hull feel like a course of anti-biotics after a really bad infection. We must take our medicine. If we can emerge from Saturday with three points, we’d have got rid of it in one go and still be looking down on Rovers who play four of their next five games away from home.
That’s not to say we can or will take anything for granted from Roberto Martinez’s Wigan. Conquerors of Aston Villa, Chelsea and West Ham, routed by Manchester United at home and Arsenal away, narrowly defeated at Hull City. The Latics are capable of seemingly anything and Burnley fans will recall Martinez masterminded a comfortable win for his previous side Swansea when last at Turf Moor in January.
For Wigan, goalkeeper Chris Kirkland is rated at 50/50 but given he played on with a dislocated finger against Man City last Sunday, one suspects he will have the determination to pull through. Mike Pollitt deputises. Austrian Paul Scharner, a useful player at both ends of the pitch, is also doubtful.
Despite some wildly irrational team changes called for by supporters in the aftermath of the Ewood defeat, I expect Owen Coyle to disappoint many and pick the same team. Particular consternation seemed to surround Steven Fletcher’s display on the right but in his previous game against Birmingham, he was arguably our best player. His scoring record in the biggest games in Scotland, for Hibernian against the Auld Firm, suggests a big match temperament.
That said, one feels for Chris Eagles, who’s substitute appearances improve in quality by the week. Comfort for him is that he is almost certain to be the first one thrown on when a change is made.
We seem to keep saying the next one is the biggest one yet, and it feels that way again. Let’s stand tall, shoulder to shoulder, and consign that dose of misery to history.