Date: 19th April 2010 at 10:13am
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It looks like curtains for the Clarets with a drop back down to the Championship seeming inevitable after yet another poor, lacklustre and clueless performance this time against the Black Cats at the Stadium of Light. The 2-1 defeat sees the Clarets drop to second from bottom after Hull secured a 0-0 draw away to Birmingham to jump above us with a game in hand. With Bolton and Wigan also winning over the weekend, our only hope is to now win our last three games and hope both West Ham and Hull stumble. West Ham, fourth from bottom are still four points clear of the Clarets and play their game in hand tonight away to Liverpool. If the Hammers pick up any unexpected points at Anfield it is effectively the end of the road for the Clarets with most fans already convinced we will be plying our trade in the Championship again next season.

Clarets fans hopes at the Stadium of Light were high too after that stunning away win against Hull City at the KC Stadium last week and we had thought that 4-1 victory would have given the lads the passion and confidence to try and get their second double and second away win of 2009-10.

The score line suggests a hard fought match but nothing could be further from the truth. We were completely outplayed and outclassed by Sunderland in the first half. Already 2-0 down thanks to goals from Campbell and Bent after 25 and 40 mins we looked a beaten side at half-time. In truth it could have been far worse with our defence seemingly having returned to its all too familiar suicide mode and Sunderland looking to extend their lead even more. We were also so ineffective up front I am struggling to remember one decent attempt on goal.

We looked slightly better in the second half and enjoyed a lot more possession but you just sensed Sunderland were taking it easy. Thompson was looking more effective up front after coming on at half time to replace Paterson but we had to wait until the 82nd minute before we could give Sunderland a scare. Robbie Blake had only been on the pitch a minute but a little bit of magic from the wizard found Thompson who thumped the ball home from 25 yards out. The Clarets now had something to fight for in the last eight minutes of this match and you would have thought it would have stirred them into action to try and get the equaliser. We just never seemed to press enough after that though and despite four minutes of added time we never looked like getting a point.

Just too many of our players were not at the races on Saturday, most notably Chris Eagles. He put in a terrible performance and it looked like his mind was more on his next career move rather than trying to save the Clarets from the drop. He needs to be careful if he wants those Premier League clubs to come-a-bidding in the summer. There was no evidence of showboating in this game! He has been linked with moves to West Brom, Everton and Spurs but if any of the managers of these clubs were there yesterday they might now be having second thoughts after this woeful performance. He was lightweight and totally ineffective. He used to score goals for the Clarets too; I can`t remember his last one (It was actually against West Ham at Upton Park way back in November, only his second of the season so far!)

Hull aside, in addition to woeful individual performances, the tactics also just don`t seem to be working no matter what we try. The number of times I saw Jensen boot the ball up for Fletcher to head on to nobody was unreal. If Fletcher was not heading into a black hole he was chasing around on the wing putting the ball in to nobody! Why do we also persist with playing our strikers out wide? Martin Paterson never has been and never will be a winger. He needs to be in the centre playing off a tall striker in 4-4-2 to be at his best. We may have missed Nugent yesterday who was out with a hamstring injury but surely we can do better in attack than this. I would have played both Eagles and Elliott on the wing and put Paterson upfront with Fletcher. Paterson came off at half-time for being ineffective with Thompson moving into the attack up front and we looked slightly better.

To be honest though it`s no use getting the attack sorted if they don`t get enough service and in this game only Cork looked to be doing enough in the engine room.

There was a lot of debate as to whether we should have brought Robbie Blake on earlier too rather than give him just the last ten minutes to try and impress. A little bit of Blake magic set up our goal but even then we couldn`t seem to turn up the heat to try and get that equaliser and it all seemed to just fizzle out in the end. Blake is an impact player these days; he rarely has the legs to put in a full 90 minute shift. Whether bringing him on earlier in the second half would have given us a better chance is debatable and we will never know.

Oh well three games to go now and they don`t make pleasant reading for Clarets fans. Liverpool and Spurs at home with Birmingham away squeezed in the middle and we need to win all three. Barring a miracle it`s Barnsley and Donny Rovers next season for us. Such a shame!

The Clarets Team Sheet

The Clarets had to make one enforced change with news that David Nugent had picked up a hamstring injury and couldn`t feature. Chris Eagles took his place in the starting eleven with Stephen Jordan also making a return to the bench.

Burnley in summary therefore lined up as follows:

Jensen, Mears, Duff, Cort, Fox, Alexander, Elliott, Cork, Eagles, Paterson, Fletcher

Subs: Weaver, Carlisle, Caldwell, Jordan, Bikey, Blake, Thompson

The Full Match Report

The impressive Stadium of Light lived up to its name on this bright and sunny day on Wearside as Rotherham referee, Howard Webb got the game underway. Clarets fans buoyed by the win at Hull City last week were hoping for more of the same and it was Burnley as well that made the livelier start. Jack Cork was looking solid and energetic in midfield and he got in a couple of early breaks but they came to nothing.

It didn`t take long though for the pace and power of the Black Cats strike force to begin to take effect with both Darren Bent and Kenwyne Jones starting to expose the weaknesses in our back four. Clarets fans hopes that Sunderland might have been thinking about their holidays with safety and a midtable finish virtually assured were to be dashed with the Black Cats looking strongly up for this match and taking the game to Burnley.

The Clarets back four have found it difficult this season to defend against set-pieces and so it would prove again. In the 19th minute, Jensen had to make a superb save diving low to his right to keep out a header from Mensah quickly recovering to then prevent the follow-up from Michael Turner.

The woodwork then came to our rescue when Kenwyne Jones thumped the ball against the post from a corner.

The onslaught from Sunderland though was beginning to tell and they eventually took the lead on 25 minutes. Alan Hutton, Sunderland`s on loan defender from Spurs decided to go on a charge down the right wing getting in a low cross that found Fraizer Campbell in an ideal position to slide home the ball past Jensen from close range. Again our defence should have done better with questions once more being asked.

The Clarets already looking nervous now seemed to have the stuffing taken out of them as the relentless pressure and possession from the Black Cats continued to wear them down. Darren Bent nearly made it 2-0 after getting in a header from another cross from Hutton but the ball flew just wide. Bent though wouldn`t have long to wait to score his 23rd League goal of the season. With five minutes of the first half remaining Campbell who looked to be marginally offside got on the end of a chipped pass from Henderson and headed the ball down to find Bent six yards from goal. He simply had to side foot home completely unmarked. So it was 2-0 down at half-time and a mountain to climb for the Clarets. In this case they hadn`t even got out of base camp so far with virtually no attempts on goal in the first 45 minutes. Very, very disappointing! Yes OK Sunderland had a vast display of talent on show showboating the club`s £50 million of debt but this was virtually the same team that the Clarets had thumped 3-1 in the earlier encounter at Turf Moor this season! If only we could have played the same way in the return fixture and shown the same quality and determination. Something would need to change in the second half if we were to stand any chance of rescuing something from this game. How we went in just 2-0 down was a miracle in itself we were that poor.

It was perhaps no surprise that Laws made a change at half-time bringing on Thompson to replace the lacklustre and totally ineffectual, Martin Paterson. He had done nothing in the first half but then playing him out on the wing is folly anyway and a waste of his talents.

Thompson upfront gave us the firepower in attack that was sadly lacking in the first-half and the effect was almost instant. He got the better of Anton Ferdinand with a neat turn to put over a cross which Chris Eagles could only head off-target. The early signs though were encouraging.

Just under the hour mark, the Clarets went on a charge opening up the Black Cats defence with some nice passing. It was Tyrone Mears who eventually put over a low cross but it was Hutton who got on the end of it to clear the danger.

The Clarets were by now enjoying quite a bit of the possession and it looked liked Sunderland had switched off confident they could contain anything the Clarets chucked at them without busting a gut.

Thompson looked to be challenged unfairly in the box after being felled by Campbell and there were appeals for a penalty although it was by no means clear cut. Clarets fans briefly thought it had been given until they realised that Howard Webb had decided instead to amazingly give Thompson a yellow card!

A punch from the Black Cats keeper, Gordon following a cross by Mears led to a half-chance with the ball falling nicely to Alexander 25 yards out from goal. Grezza let rip with a left footed daisy cutter but the keeper going to his left managed to grab the ball.

Sunderland who had clearly taken their foot of the accelerator seemed to have few chances in the second half but they always looked dangerous on the break. We seemed to take ages plodding along getting the ball up to our attack whereas Sunderland just seemed to need to string a couple of decent passes together and we were under pressure and having to defend like the clappers.

Bent should have done better but fluffed a chance at the other end to make it curtains for the Clarets but to give them their due, Burnley continued to press.

Fox attempted to score from a direct free kick but the ball dipped onto the roof of the net.

With nine minutes to go, Laws decided to bring on some fresh legs in a move that would prove inspirational. On came Robbie Blake to replace the industrious but tiring Jack Cork and within a minute the magician was setting up a goal to make it 2-1 and give the complacent Sunderland some jitters in the last few minutes of the match.

After some nice approach work, Blake laid off a typical neat pass to find Thompson just outside the box. He calmly slotted his low shot home into the bottom corner of the net to give Clarets fans some hopes of a late recovery.

Sadly though we never really pressed for the equaliser after that and indeed it was nearly Sunderland who extended their lead when Jensen had to save well to deny Kenwyne Jones.

Yes, a disappointing game lost in the first half in a fashion that is fast becoming the Burnley trademark weakness with just too many players underperforming and making crucial schoolboy errors in defence.

Match Detail

Sunderland: Gordon, Turner, Hutton, Mensah (Ferdinand 46), Malbranque, Richardson, Henderson, Meyler (Zenden 88), Campbell, Bent (Mwaruwari 90+4), Jones

Subs Not Used: Carson, Bardsley, Da Silva, Kilgallon

Goals: Campbell (25), Bent (40)

Booked: Yellow Cards for Mensah, Malbranque & Meyler

Burnley: Jensen, Mears, Duff, Cort, Fox, Alexander, Elliott, Cork (Blake 81), Eagles, Paterson (Thompson 46), Fletcher

Subs Not Used: Weaver, Carlisle, Caldwell, Jordan, Bikey

Goal: Thompson (82)

Booked: Yellow Cards for Duff & Thompson

Possession: 57% Sunderland, 43% Burnley, (Source: BBC Sport)

Referee: Howard Webb (Rotherham)


41 Replies to “Weary Defeat on Wearside!”

  • Think you are being a tad harsh tmp, my paper today shows our possession as 53% to Sunderlands 47%. It wasn’t brilliant and Eagles as I have said elsewhere was shocking imo. Fact is Bent cost more than our squad and alongside Jones and Cambell on paper we were in for another hiding as our defence isn’t that good! One win at Hull was never going to make our defence better than it is. We have championship players all over the field and so its not the end of the world….just nearly. Forgot to say Richardson and Malbranque are proven Prem League players love them or hate them they were too good and strong for our Championship side punching above our weight.

  • I have already resigned to the fact that we will be playing championship football next season, and it is the norm to lose away from home. That way it doesn’t hurt as much when we do lose. Having said that I still want to see them play with some grit, determination and passion, not just for the odd bouts here and there but for the full 90+ minutes.

  • Yep agree with everything the team looked drained and ready for the end of the season, and could had been another Man City with the amount of chances Sunderland missed. If Eagles thinks he’s going to stop in the prem of that performance think again it was a dreadful display, Elliot only seems to play when put on the wing and the rest of the team looked exhausted and ready for there holidays and I don’t blame them for whats gone on this season. Kilby and the board have got to look at the management of the team at the end of the season you cannot blame Laws for a lot of things this season but the team at Sunderland looked void of at direction and tactics.

  • I agree with VR, I think the summary is a little harsh. I thought the lads gave their best, particularly in the 2nd half, but bottom line is they just arent really good enough ( which I dont think their is any shame in). Eagles was dozing ( enough have already said how bad he was on Saturday) for the first and the second was arguably offside. I have not seen a replay of the incident but I was certain on first watch that we should have had a penalty when Campbell ( I think) fouled Thompson – It may have made a difference. As I say, I felt the lads tried but fell short on quality against a team that probably cost ( and gets paid) more than 7-8 times what ours did/does. Its a tough league!

  • I think far too many on here wear rose-tinted spectacles! We were awful and some players did not seem to have their heart in it, a marginal improvement in the second half had more to do with Sunderland not wanting to bust a gut. Totally Claret who posts on here was set next to me and thought it was ridiculous some fans were applauding that dross at the end. Technically they might not be good enough for this League, but there is no excuse for lacking passion,nor for making basic schoolboy errors and this same team punched above its weight for the first half of this season simply by having a manager who instilled belief in themselves. I can’t wait for a massive clearout in the summer with some new players of higher quality coming in. I just need to be convinced Laws is good enough to lead them and the Board is good enough to give him enough dosh to do it

  • Tmp I think the fans were applauding to try and keep the team fired up for the last three games, someone has to do it because I don’t think Laws and his staff are capable of doing it.

  • Rose tinted glasses! lol. Our first 5 away games last year conceded 17 and scored in only one of the 5 games… we were all wearing rose tinted glasses then because we refused to heap criticism on Gods ability not to be able to defend away from home. Punched above our weight in the first half of the season! Well God help us if those stats from the first half of the season were us punching above our weight away from home, not of course mentioning one win in 12 when God left us. Laws is not my hero and the players we have are not good enough for 38 games of Prem League football, but I am trying to be fair to the season and my goodness these Championship players have had 2 really hard seasons with little break and are probably struggling physically and mentally with it now. I am not in favour of kicking anyone when they are down…..unless he works at Horwich!

  • We WERE punching above our weight, no team on 20 odd points at the time earlier in the season had gone on to be relegated since Middlesbrough. Of course Burnley had to become the second club to do so. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Coyle did for us and that had he stayed he would have got some extra vital points for us at home and we would have survived. I think players earning up to £15k a week who don’t perform, look disinterested and have their own agendas most definitely do deserve the roth from the fans providing it is not verbally given at the games which helps noone.

  • I also thought it was a penalty CD, but it wasn’t shown on MOD (well not on Sunday Morning) and there was no mention of it in any of the reports I read. I also thought there second goal should of been off side as I think it was Ferdinand was off side, however Bent who scored wasn’t. I also spent some of the match watching our manager, who doesn’t seem to gee them on, he just seems to stand in his technical area observing the game.

  • To me TMP – it was quite obvious that the lads were giving everything they had in the second half but in some cases it just wasnt working and in some cases it just wasnt enough. Basic schoolboys errors is frustrating – I agree. But one of the major ones was Eagles failure to track Hutton on the first goal – Eagles the player who most of our fans have been begging for Laws to play. As for Sunderland not playing in the 2nd half – Really? Their was one example in about 30 seconds where both Malbranque and Richardson busted a gut to keep a ‘lost ball’ in play.Sunderland are a team with £70m(ish) worth of players and they beat our group of mainly championship players – to be expect surely???

  • Thought we beat them at Turf Moor 3-1? We know the Clarets can raise their game and punch above their weight it’s just that they haven’t since Coyle left and Laws arrived.Steve Bruce himself said:”We should have been out of sight. It would have been a bit unjust had they got anything from it. “

  • I agree Sunderland were the better team and deserved the win. Yes we were punching above our weight but this is very difficult/impossible to sustain over a lengthy period of time. Eventually it will catch up with you.

  • That may be the case but the transformation from pretty good home form pre-Xmas (Arsenal etc) to atrocious home form within weeks of Laws arriving suggests something else is a factor here. The drop in quality wasn’t transitional it was almost instant from Reading in the FA Cup onwards

  • I do tend to agree Phil – but I think this may have more to do with the departure of Owen than the arrival of Laws.

  • Tinted glasses……Hull at home we were very lucky……Wigan we were not that good…Villa we failed to get the 3 points…but of course God was in charge and so we were brilliant and he was above anything negative being spoken….or even talking about his away record. I think I may need to go on the notloB site to find out how to be a true supporter and get rid of the manager who must be the factor……nothing at all to do with a complete divorce for the players of ALL the staff that looked after them at a time when they were struggling with results and only just managed to beat MK Dons…..yes thats how good we were…tinted glasses my friends…tinted glasses….

  • We would have had far greater chance of staying up with Coyle at the helm it’s a simple as that! The more important question is why Coyle left and why we brought in Laws!

  • I think Coyle leaving had very little to do with our board. As for why we brought in Laws – I dont know!

  • There is a suggestion that Coyle left because he realised the limitations of the squad and that the Board wouldn’t give him the money he would need to avoid the word relegation on his CV. Personally although I still despise what he did, I can see why that lack of ambition would frustrate him and that is precisely why I think they brought Laws in! He would be willing more to operate on a low budget which is fine if you want a manager who only wins 35% on a low budget and can virtually guarantee midtable mediocrity (or worse) if Shef Wed is owt to go by

  • I heard a rumour that Barry offered Owen the funds he wanted in the transfer window – this may not be true – but very few probably know the truth. My feeling is that Owen left Burnley basically because he felt that Bolton were much further on in their development ( ground/facilities/players etc etc) than we were. As for Laws ( although as I have said previously I do not think he was the correct choice) – I think it is very difficult to judge his achievements with win ratios. Managers at Sheff Weds have been working with their hands tied ( in my opinion) for as long as I can remember. Selling your best players ( Brunt/Whelan/Mclean) to service debt is always going to make progress difficult. The general consensus is that Cotts did a decent job at Burnley. I would argue that Laws was working in a similar situation ( but on a larger scale) at Sheff Weds as to what SC had here. How do the win ratios of Cotts/Laws compare? I dont know, but would imagine they are quite similar.

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