Should they stay or should they go?

This morning has brought some welcome good news – apparently Reading want to sign Steven Reid in the summer.

Reid is one of the five first team squad members to be out of contract in the summer, and with the season entering its final weeks Sean Dyche will be mulling over who to keep and who to let go.

So let’s take a look at the five in question.

Steven Reid

In a summer of terrible signings, Reid stands alone as the worst of the lot by a distance.

He has started one game this season, the 4-0 thrashing at his old club West Brom, when he was hauled off at the break after a diabolical performance, the worst individual showing of the season so far. He was completely off the pace and out of his depth playing in front of the back four and there is no doubt we got the worst end of the bargain in the sort-of swap with WBA for Chris Baird.

The highlight of Reid’s time at Turf Moor was coming on late in the 0-0 home draw with Manchester United and taking one for the team to earn a late booking. That was his sole positive contribution in claret and blue.

It was a bad decision to sign Reid, but it would be an astonishing one to give him a new contract.

I’d drive him to Reading myself but I can’t drive, so I’ll offer to pay for his train tickets instead. I’m generous like that.

Ross Wallace

Getty Images
Getty Images

Wallace has made 17 appearances this season but the vast majority of them have been short cameos from the bench.

At the age of 29 he is at something of a crossroads in his career and he really needs to be playing regular football.

Wallace earned us a hard-fought point at Leicester with a superb late free kick, but apart from that his impact has been minimal. He impressed in a lively cameo against Aston Villa at the Turf, but other than that has not improved us when he’s been on the pitch.

The Scot wasn’t a key player last year either, playing 15 times, and it’s hard to see him being anything other than a benchwarmer next season. He’s started only a handful of games in the last two season.

I’d let him go and I’d be surprised if he went to anything more than a bottom-end Championship club.

Michael Duff

Michael Duff 2013 wide

Duff is a genuine Clarets legend and has improved the back line since replacing Michael Keane in the side recently.

At 37, there is no doubt he is coming to the end of his career and the testimonial he will have this summer is extremely well deserved.

Keane is obviously the future of the Burnley defence but with Jason Shackell showing enough quality to show he is a Premier League player – I’d expect Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth to be interested in him – Duff would be useful for another year. A Duff-Keane combination looks very solid to me.

With Kevin Long out injured long term the Clarets are short of defensive options and keeping Duff around will help to manage that area of the pitch for another 12 months.

Duff is the only Claret to have been promoted to the Premier League twice and that experience is invaluable.

He’s already working on his coaching badges and if he is willing to take a player-coach deal that could be an ideal solution.

Dean Marney
Empics via BBC Sport

The injury to Deano was perhaps the key moment in our season. It happened when we were 2-0 up and cruising at home to West Brom, a game we somehow contrived to draw thanks to typically crap defending.

Marney has been the heartbeat of the team for the last couple of years and his partnership with David Jones in the middle of the park has been integral to our success under Dyche.

Jones has struggled of late, no doubt missing his usual midfield partner, with Scott Arfield unable to provide the energy, drive and incisive passing Marney is known for.

He might pick up far too many stupid bookings but Marney has become a real fans’ favourite at Turf Moor after his first couple of years at the club were pretty average.

Marney’s injury is likely to keep him out of action until Christmas and perhaps even longer, but Burnley should still give him a new contract.

He can be the cliched ‘like a new signing’ boost when he returns to fitness next season.

Danny Ings

Football League, Twitter
Football League, Twitter

It’s been a strange season for Ings and it is ending badly, with the 22-year-old being strongly criticised for not taking the crucial penalty against Leicester City at the weekend.

He has scored nine goals this season, our top scorer by a long way, and has contributed to 50% of the goals we’ve scored.

But supporters will remember the chances he has missed too, such as the late header at Everton, that could have made all the difference. Those who defend Ings – and I’m definitely among them – note that the service to him has often been rubbish, but he certainly could have had a few more goals.

Ings’ confidence is low right now and some fans’ have mistaken that for him not caring, which is pretty insulting to one of the most honest and passionate pros to have played for the club in recent years. But he’s an easy target to make a scapegoat since it has been obvious for months he intends to run down his contract to get the best deal in the summer.

There is little doubt Ings will move on to bigger and better things in the summer, although the mooted moves to the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United may not materialise after his recent loss of form.

All players go through bad patches and Ings is certainly in one now, with no goals since his fine header at Old Trafford, but without his strikes earlier in the season we would probably already be relegated.

Hopefully supporters will remember his superb last season, in which he fired us to promotion and was named the Championship’s Player of the Year.

Your views

We asked for your opinions on the above five out of contract players on Twitter. Here’s a selection of responses:

Which of the five players should Burnley keep? Comment below.

What’s next for the Clarets?

On Saturday evening I took a call from Los Angeles on behalf on No Nay Never. I was speaking to a couple of American for their ‘soccer’ podcast featuring the ‘EPL’ relegation battle, this week focusing on Burnley.

I was sat at the back of an emptied James Hargreaves stand with only Adrian Durham, of TalkSPORT infamy, and his jobsworth producer for company as I waited for the call to come in.

The ghost of Leicester City hung over the Turf like a thick smog and then the phone rang – their cheery demeanor was not what I needed at that point in time. I had warned them via email I was upset. Even by American standards they were ridiculously chipper for 10am on a Saturday morning their time.

Like a dagger to the heart: “Hey Jordan, tell me about the penalty kick…” I’ve tried to recall what I said on that phone-call but like a boxer who had gone 12 I was in a daze.

“It was the biggest penalty miss in the history of Burnley Football Club” I can remember firing back at them, a bold statement – but this was a desperate situation.

Is there a rewind button? All that was missing from Matt Taylor as he sat head in hands, like a defeated Trojan warrior – was a spear impaled in his chest. Caesar’s thumb was to turn 27 seconds later.

I’m struggling to think of penalty that has impacted the club in a greater way, Kevin Ball’s miss in the FA Cup replay shootout against Scunthorpe United back in 2001 didn’t quite have the same ramifications.

A lot of the anguish has turned to anger; in this the digital era it has been hot-housed on social media, much of it in the direction of Danny Ings. The post-match question was why the forward didn’t move heaven and earth to wrestle the ball off Taylor and subsequently ram it past Kasper Schmeichel.

I was covered the game for NNN from Turf Moor and the consensus in my area of the press box was that Ings would be the man to make himself a hero. The goal-getter had the perfect opportunity to end his drought and fire the Clarets to a climacteric three points.

You could see Taylor gesturing to Ings but for whatever reason, be it confidence, nerve or respecting Taylor as more senior pro, the forward didn’t fancy it. Kieran Trippier also seemed to have a part to play, telling Ings to let the former Hammer have it.

When questioned in the post-match presser Dyche made it clear that in his eyes only one man grabbed the ball and wanted to take responsibility. The two golden chances of the afternoon fell at that man Taylor’s historically reliable feet and the way he won the penalty smacked of Premier League know how – how many of the current squad would have stayed on their feet?

Taylor manipulated the situation, robbing the lackadaisical Paul Konchesky of possession with clever forward play. Burnley have been missing this type of cunning all season in the final third.

He had the bottle to take it, so you won’t find me laying the blame at his door; the tension in the stadium was almost tangible. The 27 seconds between the ball hitting that post and Vardy kneeing it over the line is what I can only imagine hell is like, with Nigel Pearson as the devil.

It has ultimately relegated us barring a run of form of Leicester proportions. We have won five all season, to win the final four may still not be enough for a claret and blue miracle.

What’s next?

Now I’m not one for getting ahead of myself but in the revolving door that is football we could be looking for a new manager this time next month.

Even with the Clarets languishing at the foot of the table, Dyche has not harmed his reputation and he will have many potential suitors in the summer. The primary worry for most Clarets fans is the manager leaving rather than Danny Ings.

Here is my back of a beer mat shortlist…

Mark Warburton

It is public knowledge that Brentford owner Mathew Benham will not be renewing Warburton’s contract as the club alters its recruitment policy. The Bees’ loss could be Burnley’s gain – many will have you believe that he is the best lower league manager since sliced bread (sorry).

Warburton, a former city trader, has seen his stock rise in the Championship and his development of Andre Gray shows he knows a thing or two about coaching. Burnley could utilise Warburton’s relationship with Gray to lure the striker to the club for an instant promotion push.

Paul Cook

The Liverpudlian has turned unfashionable Chesterfield into an attractive attacking force in League One. He is on the cusp of greatness with the Spireites currently occupying the final play-off birth. He has cut his teeth in the lower leagues at Accrington Stanley and Chesterfield are already turning clubs away for their gaffer. The former Burnley man would be well received at Turf Moor, but it’s not a popularity contest and Cook would have to hit the ground running to get the sceptics on side.

Karl Robinson

In the mould of the newest Premier League manager Eddie Howe, he is a breed of new age manager that delivers attacking football that has MK Dons on the brink of promotion from League One. His reputation has continued to rise, boosted by masterminding a 4-0 win over Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United, albeit in the Carling Cup. At just 34 years of age has time to develop within the job.

Neil Warnock

One from left field, a promotion specialist from the school of hard knocks. I know we are meant to hate him but he has a proven track record of working in the Championship. He wouldn’t be a long term project and he would have a clear objective to get the Clarets in the play-offs at least.

With this mandate in place, if Burnley fall short Warnock would part company with the club after one season. Doesn’t offer stability but look at clubs like Crystal Palace who have implemented short term strategies with great success.

Only three foreign managers have ever been promoted from the Championship so I’ve concentrated my search to the British Isles and if we are to make an unlikely instant return to the Premier League it has to be done is season one where we have the bulk of the parachute funds.

The board has kept the powder dry this season in the hope Dyche can operate on a budget, it has back-cannoned on us – money must be spent in the right areas to make Burnley as competitive as possible next season.

What’s coming next for Burnley? Comment below.

Analysis: Burnley 0-1 Leicester

It was dubbed a relegation decider before kick-off and it was the team in form that built on their momentum with a fourth win in a row courtesy of a poacher’s finish from Jamie Vardy, only moments after Matthew Taylor squandered Burnley’s best chance from the spot.

1st half highlights

– Vardy’s turn and strike in the box was easily gathered by Tom Heaton as the Foxes forward registered the first shot on target on 22 minutes after an scrappy opening period

– Kieran Trippier’s outswinging corner found Michael Duff and his header was turned towards goal by Matt Taylor in the six yard box, only for Kasper Schmeichel to make a fabulous reaction save and flick the ball clear

2nd half highlights

– Trippier found Duff once again with a corner – this time more of a floated delivery – and the latter connected well, powering a header towards goal, only for Leo Ulloa to block the goal-bound attempt

58-60 Minutes

– Danny Ings turned Robert Huth and Wes Morgan with a fake inside and broke into the box but his left footed strike was well parried by Schmeichel

– Leicester failed to clear their lines following Ings’ shot and the Clarets recycled the ball into another chance as Matt Taylor stormed into the box, only to be brought down by Paul Konchesky for a spot kick

– Taylor himself surprised many in Turf Moor when he stood up to take responsibility for the penalty, rather than usual taker Ings, though despite all of his top flight experience, the 32-year-old lacked the composure required, seeing his effort crash off the foot of the post

– Burnley 0-1 LEICESTER (Vardy, 60): Almost immediatly after the missed penalty, Leicester looked to get the ball and attack the crushed Clarets. Having got the ball to Marc Albrighton, the ex-Aston Villa man wasn’t dealt with by Ben Mee down his side and he sent a dangerous cross into the mix. Though it wasn’t reaching a Leicester body, in attempt to shepherd the ball clear, Duff turned the ball towards his own goal and Heaton had to make a fabulous improvised reaction save to claw the ball off the line. Unfortunately, with Duff on the floor and Shackell – one would forgive for not foreseeing the aforementioned events – not tracking Vardy, the former non-league goal machine prodded home into an empty goal to truly punish the home team.

– After being picked out by an excellent diagonal by Ross Wallace, Ben Mee got in behind and his fizzing cross took a nick off Robert Huth, forcing Schmeichel into a fine reflex stop

Fine margins to the maximum

The parallels between this and what happened to Leicester themselves a few years ago are striking.

In the 96th minute of a play-off semi-final second leg, Anthony Knockeart had the chance to put Leicester 3-2 ahead on aggregate, preventing extra-time and sending his team to Wembley. The Frenchman stepped up and saw his penalty, and then his rebound saved superbly by Manuel Almunia. As buoyed Watford supporters prepared to roar their fans on in extra-time, amazingly, their team broke and following a scramble in Leicester’s own box, Troy Deeney smashed home from 12 yards to send the Hornets faithful into elation.

That sense of hyperbolic misery was no doubt present for both respective teams. The jubilation and euphoria around Turf Moor when Matt Taylor won and stepped up for the penalty was such, it was almost as if Burnley had retained their top flight status. When he struck the outside of the post, the despair was written all over Taylor’s face and was evident all around the ground as the elation died down. It was almost as if Burnley had lost everything at that point. The structure of the team and the crowd fell apart for a few minutes and it was costly. Leicester were galvanised and grew in belief and took advantage of Burnley’s shell shock in perfect fashion. Prior to the penalty, Burnley were controlling possession without ever really looking like scoring but it was a slow building up of momentum. As it is, the culmination of events that stopped Burnley snatching all the points to them then blowing what looked like being a 0-0 stalemate until the very end. Confidence will not be high.

Don’t press the suicide button just yet

It has been built up as the second biggest game of the weekend by some pundits (behind the Arsenal v Chelsea clash on Sunday), such were the stakes that they said lay on this. Though despite the visitors snatching all three points, it hardly came as a surprise for me. Initially, I had predicted a share of the spoils between the teams but you must remember that recently, Leicester have won three on the bounce and beaten good teams in Swansea and West Brom in the process. So even though people will say that Burnley have blown it, I beg to differ for they’re only a point down on my expected points total.

So what does that mean then? Well it means that rather than picking up a further point against West Ham in London, Burnley must beat them. If they do, whether it be down to a 40-yard wonder strike or off the backside of a defender, it will not matter a jot and all this talk of relegation will temporarily be put to bed.

The Premier League is a very strange division. Only last season Sunderland were the so called “dead and buried” but they orchestrated wins over Manchester United and Chelsea and earned a point away at the Etihad to propel them from the foot of the table and to an incredible great escape. A win against West Ham setting up a potential six-pointer with the match at the KC Stadium the following week should be the aim for Sean Dyche.

Having said that, it does put immense pressure on the trip to the capital. Sam Allardyce’s men at the moment really do look lethargic and disinterested. They’re safely in mid table with no danger of going down but miles from any push for a Europa League spot. Newcastle and West Ham are the teams you want to play in the situations where you desperately want to get some points (with the utmost respect). Lose and I can legislate for talk of the drop becoming a frustrating reality.

…however change is now a necessity

Sean Dyche discussed how he felt post-match that Burnley created six or seven good opportunities to beat Leicester. Well the truth is he’s wrong.

Leicester contained Burnley well and really the game was destined to end goalless following that missed penalty. And Leicester contained Burnley well because Burnley were so predictable and slow in their play. The amount of times I counted passes between back to or across the back four was scandalous. Then if that wasn’t utilised, it was a long punt to the out-of-his depth Lukas Jutkiewicz or struggling Danny Ings. Now not for one second would I lay the blame with the manager. He is managing a team of mid-table Championship players and many of them’s best attribute is their work ethic, which says a lot about the teams craft and quality. But changes must be made.

David Jones is struggling in the middle. He has played in every game for Burnley this season and looks like it. He has been nothing short of magnificent since his free transfer from Wigan Athletic, an integral figure in the promotion campaign and managed to up his game for much of this season. But I’d opt for dropping Scott Arfield. Why? Because Jones’ better performances this season have come next to Dean Marney and I feel that moving Matt Taylor into the middle – a position he played regularly in for West Ham – will help him more than Arfield does. Let’s be fair. Manchester City’s Yaya Toure and Fernandinho couldn’t hack a two-man midfield so it just shows the challenges that Jones and Arfield face every match but it is sadly a challenge they are failing and therefore change is a necessity.

Ross Wallace is another I feel should get a run out. His threat when it comes to set pieces is well known and a crossfield pass late on to pick out Ben Mee in a dangerous position on the edge of the opposition box was a sublime pass that no other Burnley player could have picked out. Michael Kightly’s injection of pace is also a tool so massively under-utilised by Dyche. He may be frustrating with his end product at times but at least he’s adventurous and different to the norm out-wide.

Next week I’d like to see this team:

Heaton; Trippier, Duff, Shackell, Ward; Wallace, Jones, Taylor, Kightly; Ings, Vokes

Burnley MOTM

Michael Duff 7/10: A decent display for the veteran at the back. Highly unfortunate with his role in the goal with his attempted clearance forcing Heaton into an excellent clawed save, only for Vardy to tuck home, though he held his own well against the menacing Vardy and Ulloa

Tom Heaton 6/10: Unfortunate with the goal after making a fine initial reflex save and made one or two more decent stops

Kieran Trippier 7/10: Some good surges forward and solid defensively but set pieces were poor

Jason Shackell 7/10: Good in his distribution and marshaling of his back four

Ben Mee 5/10: Some good touches though his passing was erratic and the goal came down his side

George Boyd 5/10: Lots of running and endeavour as ever off the ball but when dribbling and trying to beat his man looks very amateurish

Scott Arfield 5/10: Lots of running but lacks pace and creativity. He started off well in the middle but those initial performances are now well and truly a thing of the past. Dean Marney he is not

David Jones 5/10: His performances have tailored off as the season has elapsed. Looks tired and his passing is continues to be too safe

Matt Taylor 5/10: You have to feel for the ex-Hammers midfielder. He was having a pretty decent return to the starting line-up until his abysmal penalty turned the tables

Lukas Jutkiewicz 5/10: Battled hard up the top of the field and won numerous free kicks but looks severely like a fish out of water

Danny Ings 5/10: Why was he not on the decisive penalty? Regardless of this game changing moment, once again struggled and looked frustrated at the service his team were giving him

Leicester MOTM

Wes Morgan 7/10: Didn’t give much change to any of Burnley’s attacking options as the Clarets huffed and puffed but never really looked like bridging a strong defensive unit. A strong presence both physically and mentally at the back.

Schmeichel 7, Wasilewski 6, Huth 7, Albrighton 7, King 6, Cambiasso 6, Drinkwater 6, Konchesky 6, Vardy 7, Ulloa 6

Where next?

West Ham (A): All the previewing has been aforementioned.Prediction: West Ham 0-1 Burnley (it needs to be). But if Burnley do not turn up it could be very different and a good opportunity for West Ham to get themselves a win for their frustrated fans.

Michael Duff testimonial Q&A

Michael Duff and Guests Q&A

Burnley defender Michael Duff has been granted a testimonial year following his 11 years at the club. The veteran was brought to Burnley by Steve Cotterill from Cheltenham Town for just £30,000 arguably one of the best pound for pound signings the club has ever made. Michael has gone on to make over 350 appearances for the Clarets and is the only player to have gained promotion to the Premier League with Burnley on two occasions.

Michael kicks off his testimonial year on the 30th April with a ‘Michael Duff and guests Q&A’ evening taking place at Turf Moor, in the James Hargreaves Suite at 7pm. Michael will be joined by former and current players from his time at the club such as Danny Ings, Sam Vokes, Kieran Trippier, Robbie Blake, Clarke Carlisle, Graham Alexander and Stephen Jordan with Darren Bentley hosting the evening. Clarets fans will be able to relive their fond memories with new and old players as well as being given to opportunity to ask any burning questions they may have for the players.

Tickets are available for £15 and this includes a pie and peas supper and an automatic entry ticket to win a signed Michael Duff shirt. Tickets are available from the Bob Lord Stand reception, Monday to Friday from 9am until 5pm or by phoning 0161 817 5271. Tickets will also be available from the fan zone prior to Saturday’s fixture against Leicester, look out for the testimonial pop up banners!


Why Sordell should start on Saturday

Marvin Sordell should be in the team on Saturday. There, I’ve said it.

Before the men in white coats turn up to take me away, let me explain my thinking.

What we’ve been doing is not working. We haven’t scored a goal in our last three matches and have only found the net once in seven games since the 1-1 draw at Chelsea. The current plan isn’t fit for purpose.

Burnley fans hoped Sam Vokes’ reintroduction into the side would spark the spluttering attack into life but it hasn’t worked out. Vokes has looked out of his depth at times, which is understandable since he spent almost a year out injured and is adapting to a higher level. The Vokes-Ings partnership, which was so effective in the Championship last year, looks lifeless.

Sean Dyche pulled a masterstroke by playing Ashley Barnes on the left against Manchester City but since then the tactic has backfired, making our play too narrow and samey with long balls pumped up to Vokes and Barnes all game. Barnes’ suspension for two brainless tackles at Everton means Dyche has to change something and since we have only won once in 12 fixtures it is time for a radical shift in our approach.

Which is where Marv comes in.

Now, before I start, let me point out that I’m no Sordell superfan. I was baffled when we signed him in the summer and he’s done nothing all season to suggest he is anything but a mid-table Championship forward. He’s scored one goal all season, a sweet volley in the FA Cup replay at Spurs, making his record similar to Vokes’ and better than that of Lukas Jutkiewicz, who still hasn’t scored in a Claret shirt. On the face of it, Sordell is not likely to score the goals that keep us in the Premier League.

But we have to try something different. Vokes is struggling to assert himself on Premier League defenders, who tend to be bigger, stronger, faster and more reliable than those in the league below. Jutkiewicz is basically a less effective version of Vokes and his confidence is clearly at rock bottom. There is no point playing him.

Which leaves Sordell. Marv has the one thing none of Barnes, Juke and Vokes have: pace. He’s not lightning quick but he can stretch teams. Considering Leicester City are the visitors on Saturday and they have one of the league’s slowest players, Wes Morgan, in their back line, selecting him starts to make a little bit of sense. Sordell is lively and direct, everything Vokes and Jutkiewicz are not, and picking him would certainly catch Leicester by surprise. That alone might be enough to make it work.

When Dyche first put Barnes into the team this season, for the home game against Hull in November, plenty of people (myself included) questioned the decision and wondered what on earth he was playing at. Barnes scored the winner that day, flinging egg in all our faces, and went on to hit more key strikes against Southampton and Manchester City. Barnes, previously described in an NNN comment as “not even a Championship player” had proved himself able in the Premier League. Why can’t Sordell do the same and surprise us all again? Dyche obviously feels he is good enough or we would not have signed him. Give him a go.

Nigel Pearson’s Foxes typically line up in a 4-3-3 formation and although Dyche has been strictly wedded to his 4-4-2 all season, sticking with it after it succeeded so wildly last season, it has looked stale and ripe for change of late. David Jones and Scott Arfield are both struggling in a midfield two and without Dean Marney’s energy in the middle of the park, it hasn’t worked. Teams are dominating the midfield battle against us and if you lose that, you usually lose the game.

Switching to a central three would allow Dyche to get Matt Taylor back in the side and the former West Ham man has shown enough in his brief cameos from the bench in the last two games to suggest he would improve us. Taylor is not quick and won’t add energy to the side but he is precise in possession and can add quality passing to the side, improving our ball retention and getting us into better attacking positions. A Taylor-Jones-Arfield trio looks pretty decent to me, even if Jones and Taylor are quite similar.

Taking out the wingers obviously restricts the team’s width but as Kieran Trippier is our main creative threat from right-back it is doubtful whether that would necessarily have a negative impact. Taking away the winger in front of him would give Tripps more room to run into and whip in those dangerous crosses that beg to be stuck away. While Ben Mee on the other side isn’t really known for his attacking play, his sublime beating of Hector Bellerin and excellent resulting cross in the Arsenal game shows he is capable.

George Boyd is out of form and a switch to 4-3-3 would benefit him too. All too often he is too deep when he gets the ball. Wingers aren’t going to hurt teams if they receive possession on the halfway line with two opposition players between them and the goal. We need to get Boyd involved in the play as close to the box as possible. Giving him some licence to roam around the final third would improve our creative options, which have been badly lacking when we get forward. Boyd is one of the few players in the team who is happy to shoot on sight and pushing him up the pitch would improve our goal threat too. His energy means he could still get back when needed, but it’s time to give him more freedom to go and score and make goals. That’s what we signed him for.

Danny Ings could thrive in a 4-3-3 too. At the minute he is too easy to pick up for opposition teams. We never get in behind so Ings is forced to drop deep in search of the ball, where a defensive midfielder can comfortably cut off his supply line. Burnley need to work their angles better instead of playing in straight lines that are easy to defend again. A 4-3-3 would free up more pockets of space for Ings to exploit and allow him to get closer to Boyd – our two most dangerous players have to be given more chances to link up. That is where we can hurt other teams. Ings is struggling at the moment and a new approach could breathe new life into his game.

So what does Sordell bring to the party?

Firstly, a nuisance factor than Vokes and Juke do not offer, although Barnes does. Sordell should fit the pressing game nicely and would be able to put plenty of pressure on the opposition. His pace gives us the option of the ball over the top, which we have hardly used all season, while adding some mobility to the front line means our attacks should be speedier and more dangerous. At the moment our attacking play is slow, stale and predictable, but a fluid front line of Ings, Boyd and Sordell, all swapping positions and getting into the box as often as possible, has the potential to cause havoc. We should look to play through the midfield, getting Taylor and Jones on the ball, instead of smashing passes over their heads.

We’re not scoring goals and we’ll go down unless that changes.

It’s time for something radical.

It’s time for Sordell.

Has Jamie gone mad or is there a case for playing Sordell? Would 4-3-3 work? Comment below.

Listen to this issue being discussed on our podcast.

Podcast 75: The case for Sordell and Wallace as a wing-back

Jamie is joined by James and Jordan this week.

The panel look back on the Arsenal and Everton games and preview the Leicester game. Jamie makes the case for playing Marvin Sordell. James makes the case for Ross Wallace as a left wing-back. Jordan didn’t really know what to think any more. It got a bit crazy.

As always, feel free to email any feedback about the podcast to

You can listen online here or in the player below. To listen to all previous episodes of the NNN podcast, please visit our mini-site, where you can also find links to subscribe on iTunes. Check out our guide if you’re not sure what any of this means.

Thanks to our sponsors Neville Gee and our editor Stephen Long.

Analysis: Everton 1-0 Burnley

A first half strike from Kevin Mirallas condemned Burnley to another defeat as Roberto Martinez’s Everton continue their rise up the table following a brief relegation scare a month or so ago.

The Toffees started much more dominantly and when Mirallas scored, you’d be forgiven for thinking the scoreline may get more emphatic. Burnley wormed their away back into the affair for the remainder of the half, only for Ashley Barnes to get dismissed in first half stoppage time. Inevitably, the ten men from Lancashire couldn’t find a way through and were thankful to keeper Tom Heaton for an inspired display between the sticks.

1st half highlights

– Ross Barkley ran at the Clarets defence and with the defenders back-tracking, he dragged wide from distance

– Kieran Trippier’s galloping run down the flank and delivery to Sam Vokes was just behind the Welsh hitman and he could only direct his header over the bar


– Sloppy play in the middle by David Jones who lost the ball and in an attempt to make up for his error, he clumsily brought down Aaron Lennon on the edge of the box. The initial challenge was outside the box though penalties can be given from challenges initially starting outside so arguments could me made both ways. Ross Barkley stole responsibility of the spot-kick from regular and reliable Leighton Baines and like Mirallas before him, his selfishness was not repaid as Heaton excellently blocked down low to his right

– Heaton was set for a busy afternoon and had to react quickly to parry Baines’ rasping half volley after he flapped at Seamus Coleman’s inviting delivery

– Lennon was a nuisance in the first half and Burnley couldn’t live with his pace as he single-handedly instigated a counter-attack though having played the ball through Scott Arfield’s legs, but his arrowed finish fizzed narrowly wide as the final finish he deserved to complement his lung-bursting run eluded him

EVERTON 1-0 Burnley (Mirallas, 26)

It was the epitome of the 25 minutes prior for the home side. They brushed past the threadbare midfield and attacked down Ben Mee’s wing. Lennon found Arouna Kone, who in turn found Coleman, and his delivery across the box was left by Kone for Mirallas, who inadvertently touched the ball in front of him and lashed past a helpless Heaton. You can nitpick about the positioning of the defenders though if your midfield cannot once prevent a constant attacking brigade then sooner or later you’ll be picked apart at the back.

– Immediately the Clarets looked to respond with Danny Ings’ cute little chip playing David Jones in but the midfielder lacked composure and skied his shot off-balance


– Ashley Barnes was dismissed for his second yellow card for a quite frankly foolish attempt to tackle Coleman. His first yellow was harsh as there was no contact on the man but the intent was there. Inevitably both challenges with a very lenient referee may have gone unpunished though there should be no excuses for a Barnes’ lack of professionalism.

2nd half highlights

– Baines instantly looked to push further forward after the interval and his teasing low cross was prodded by Kone but Heaton managed to claw the ball away at his near post

– George Boyd’s lazy touch was seized upon by Baines who threaded Lennon in behind and he cut the ball back for James McCarthy, the Irishman somehow steering the ball wide from point blank range with the goal gaping

– Since the interval, Baines was becoming integral as far as Everton’s offensive play was going and having had the ball recycled to him from a corner, his fierce effort stung Heaton’s palms

– Pinball in the Burnley box almost again worked in the hosts’ favour as Kone’s miscued first touch fell kindly for Lennon, whose shot took a deflection but Heaton was on hand to claim

– A trademark deadly set-piece delivery from Baines found Gareth Barry at the far post though when it looked like he had to score his volley wasn’t clean and once again Heaton managed to get his gloves to the ball and make the save

– McCarthy rectified his earlier lack of composure with an almost nonchalant strike of a loose ball on the edge of the box which dropped inches wide

– Danny Ings – provider of the best first half opportunity – was guilty of squandering the best chance of the second period for the Clarets, getting too much on an unmarked header from Trippier’s cross and sending his ball over from ten yards

Barnes the buffoon

He really was quite foolish. Question the decisions of the referee all you like but quite why he felt the need to try and slide tackle against the lightning Coleman when on a yellow is unknown when it was always going to be risky. Yes it wasn’t malicious but it was plain daft to even try it in the first place. I don’t think he’s cost Burnley a share of the spoils because Everton had plenty of chances before his dismissal but it won’t do his manager any favours when Leicester come calling next week.

Taylor-made swap

David Jones has been an integral figure in the Burnley midfield throughout the promotion season and this season though could it be time for some fresh legs.

In the now finally fit Matt Taylor Burnley have an experienced professional who started his trade as a winger and has drifted into the middle having slowed down with age, though his eye for a pass and knowledge of the top division is perhaps something Jones lacks. At Goodison, Jones looked out of his depth in a two-man central midfield and his passing is so pedestrian and negative it at times derails Burnley’s attacking play. Taylor meanwhile is both known for his passing and long range shooting and certainly whether it be fatigue or whatever, Jones needs a break.

Nightmare run over

In their previous eight matches, Burnley played all eight of the top eight Premier League teams before an Everton team whom, in years gone by, would have been pushing for the Europa League spots and been dark horses for the top four. It really has been a nightmare run which threatened to kill Burnley off and while five points from 27 doesn’t make for good reading, it gives us just enough breathing space for a chance at survival.

The problem is the lack of goals. It’s why you can’t categorically say Burnley will win the games they have remaining, because they have been getting one or two chances per game and haven’t been able to convert. Similarly, after Arfield’s opener against Chelsea on the first round of fixtures, the run of six matches without a goal then followed and some people (although a tad farcical) suggested Burnley may not score another goal this campaign. Indeed it was a stupid statement but it spoke volumes about the lack of both a killer instinct and creator of chances. There are certainly parallels with then and now.

It is uplifting for the Clarets that upcoming opponents Leicester were the team they broke their long drought against before in a 2-2 draw at the King Power Stadium. Another pointer for fans of fate is that the Foxes were on an excellent run of form that day also, on the back of victories against Manchester United at home and at Stoke, along with draws against Everton and Arsenal. Burnley can ill afford to lose the game and while three points would be massive, you get the feeling a share of the spoils wouldn’t be too disastrous for either team.

As I’ve said beforehand, the games where Burnley need to get wins are against West Ham and Stoke. Two teams with nothing to play for and comfortably in mid-table will probably lack that desire and hunger to win matches that they had two or three months ago. Sam Allardyce it seems, even when winning, is fighting a losing battle at keeping his job and he no doubt doesn’t have the drive to win every match with the unfair treatment he receives from the supporters.

Burnley MOTM

Tom Heaton 8/10: One of Burnley’s dependable figures who manager Sean Dyche can count on no matter the circumstances. When Barnes was dismissed, you’d be forgiven for expecting the Merseysiders to rack up three or four goals but Heaton kept the Clarets in the game until the last minute. No absolute stand-out world class saves but made a lot of very good and important stops

Kieran Trippier 7/10: Becoming the man Burnley look to to make that defence-splitting pass. Ddefended respectfully down his side and a threat whenever he managed to get forward

Michael Duff 7/10: His return to the team has really shored up the defence on the whole and means even when Burnley are struggling to score, you have an assured centre-back partnership. Solid

Jason Shackell 7/10: Like Duff, consistently good at doing his job when he doesn’t try and play elaborate passes. A tough day but didn’t allow the Toffees to attack narrowly, even though they got in dangerous positions out wide

Ben Mee 4/10: Absolutely ripped apart by Seamus Coleman and looked completely out of his depth for the 90 minutes

George Boyd 5/10: Another performance with lots of running but looked lost of ideas and lethargic when on the ball

Scott Arfield 5/10: Been in decent form but these matches against Arsenal and now Everton have brought his feet firmly back on the ground. Got stuck in and took a caution in the second half though

David Jones 4/10: When you play with two central midfielders there will be some games where you are overrun and the Burnley midfield certainly were with both ten and 11 men. Awful and predictable in his passing and looked a nervous wreck. Conceded penalty in the first half also having initially lost the ball

Ashley Barnes 4/10: His bookings can be argued long into the night but the naivety of his second challenge really did kill the game

Danny Ings 7/10: Improved display despite another match goalless. Superb hunger and desire to track back into his own half and slide into Coleman to prevent a dangerous move from elapsing. Missed a glorious chance in the grand scheme of things but once again at the heart of Burnley’s threats

Sam Vokes 6/10: Isolated for the most part but made himself a handful. Battled hard to keep the ball up the pitch but a difficult headed chance early on was as good as it got for him

Everton MOTM

Aaron Lennon 8/10: With Tottenham in the predicament they are in, no doubt Mauricio Pochettino wishes he could call upon a player of Aaron Lennon’s experience when he’s in this kind of confidence. With his pace, his energy and his willingness to utilise these traits for the good of the team from an offensive perspective. Often came into the middle of the pitch to take advantage of Burnley’s fragile midfield.

Howard 6, Coleman 8, Stones 6, Jagielka 6, Baines 8, Barry 7, McCarthy 6, Mirallas 6, Barkley 6, Kone 7

Where next?

Leicester (H): It’s a season defining match which Burnley simply cannot afford to lose. It’s the first game in what feels like an eternity that Sean Dyche’s men will be welcoming a team where the pressure is on after playing eight matches against the current top ten and an Everton team usually well up there in seasons gone by. The result of this is massive and there are a number of ways this one could go and I feel it may end all-square. Prediction: Burnley 1-1 Leicester

Burnley cannot afford to drop any more shots

The Clarets haven’t found the net in the last three games and have scored just one goal in their last six and five in their last ten. 

What’s the craic? The goals have disappeared over the horizon quicker than Jordan Spieth in his green jacket.

Sean Dyche will point to shut-outs against the defending Premier League champions and Spurs, but I’d like to point to the fact that only Aston Villa and Sunderland has scored fewer than us, with those clubs handicapped by Paul Lambert and Gustavo Poyet for most of the season.

Danny Ings has not found the net since his superb diving header against the Premier League’s in vogue side Manchester United, his potential suitors if the Daily Mail is to be believed.

That was over two months ago, as if you haven’t been counting the days. His second touch was invariably a tackle against the Gooners on Saturday and when it opened up for him to shoot in the final minutes, he tripped over the ball tackling Sam Vokes in the process. A swing and a miss.

What’s going on then? Are we not creating enough? Maybe. Is the service to blame? The general consensus is that the front men are feeding off scraps.

However, I was reliably informed after the Arsenal game, and subsequently researched that Kieran Trippier has the second best cross delivery rate in the Premier League, that’s a cross finding its intended target, after Stewart Downing (OPTA). Meaning the full-back doesn’t have to adjust his swing, it’s just the strikers are not making the cut.

The approach Dyche will take in the quest for goals will invariably be to play a mulligan; the most common words in English football are “Burnley are unchanged” – does this make us too predictable? Possibly.

The reluctance of the manager to make substitutions is proving frustrating at times and it’s clear that Dyche only trusts the starting XI. Some of the players needed caddying around the field in the final stages on Saturday. We have scored only one league goal from a substitute all season.

Ashley Barnes being farmed out to the left is certainly not par for the course and it’s time to put the striker back up front with Ings, giving Vokes a rest – the Welsh international is still finding his range after starting the last three games. Even with all three of them on the pitch it’s more of square pegs in round holes at the moment.

Dyche could alter his stance by bringing in Fredrik Ulvestad to add a creative spark. Many say he is here to ‘make up the numbers’ but he offers us the element of surprise, the ace in the pack. The opposition won’t know much about him and there is only so much you can glean from studying YouTube videos of the midfielder playing for Aalesund.

Simon from @BFCNorge delivered a great piece on Ulvestad – which delightfully translates as ‘The Wolf’, here on, describing him as a young, offensive player whose ‘minimal requirement is maximum effort’ – if he has skill to accompany hard work he could be a starter. ‘The Wolf of Turf Moor’ anyone? Too soon?

Throughout the side on Saturday, from Mee to green (stay with me), we flattered to deceive. Arsenal did their homework on us and it wouldn’t have taken scouts of our upcoming opponents long to realise that when you choke George Boyd and Trippier as a pair, you greatly negate Burnley as an attacking threat.

There needs to be more fluidity and interchanging of positions. Is it any coincidence Ben Mee got man of the match? He was the only out ball all afternoon as Arsene Wenger looked to close us off down our right.

The fact we have just come out of a turbulent spell of games and find ourselves just a pitching wedge short of the pin, in regards to Premier League safety, just the two points adrift, is promising. Many pundits had us down after that run, but in fact we emerge with credit for the way we fought every inch of the way. It’s not as if we are Sunderland getting fore-balled at home every other week.

Out of the six remaining games Burnley will have no gimmes with four being away from home; Leicester City on the other hand have five to come at the King Power Stadium – you wonder how this is allowed to happen? The Clarets will need a perfect round in the two fixtures at Turf Moor against the Foxes and Stoke City to avoid final day yips at Aston Villa.

As Burnley enter the final furlong, teeing off at Everton, we are facing a team that has won three out of their last four Premier League games. I’ve stated previously that I think it will be a 1-1 draw, but I’m going to fiddle my score card and go for the Burnley to nick a 1-0 win.

Come on you Clarets – and I make no apology for the golf puns.

Analysis: Burnley 0-0 Tottenham

Burnley dented Tottenham’s hopes of a Champions League place in a dreary 0-0 stalemate at Turf Moor.

Danny Ings managed to get in behind early on but fired straight at the keeper when he should have done better though it took until the 90th minute for the next decent opportunity when George Boyd’s guided header sailed just past the far post though in truth, neither team really did enough to break the deadlock.

1st half highlights

– George Boyd’s endeavour to win the ball high up the pitch was almost key as he threaded Danny Ings in behind and when the pathway opened for him seemingly to smash home, the striker panicked under pressure from Nabil Bentaleb and struck straight at Michel Vorm

– Nacer Chadli worked an opening from outside the box but his drive lacked the power necessary to beat Tom Heaton

– Chadli  worked a similar opening from 20 yards but once again, his effort lacked power and Heaton claimed

– Christian Eriksen looked to make the most of a quickly taken free-kick, finding himself in a good area of space on the edge of the box and despite orchestrating an effort through a rack of bodies, Heaton was on hand again

– George Boyd sliced an effort wide from 25 yards

– Danny Ings’ swerving effort from just outside the box forced Vorm into a decent diving save, tipping the ball over the top

2nd half highlights

– The lively Eriksen looked to take the game by the scruff of the neck, finding a way into the box, but his finish sailed high and wide

– Kieran Trippier’s long throw-in provoked a game of head tennis in the box before the ball dropped to Boyd eight yards out, though in stretching, the Clarets winger could only nod agonisingly wide

Worst game of the season a priceless one

Make no mistake, it was a dire match. A match which was satirised by the likes of Jamie Carragher, Thierry Henry and Jermaine Jenas on their respective networks. But it could be a priceless point gained by the Clarets come May 24th.

It was certainly a game where the points were probably deservedly shared. For me, Burnley dominated Tottenham without ever really looking like scoring. They were better in defence, in midfield and in attack but as has been the case on numerous occasions this season, that lack of invention when in the final third has been a problem. The structure and shape of the team is excellent and that is because everyone works so hard to keep in that position even when pressing against the opposition.

It means Tottenham struggled to get going as they attempted to play out from the back. Their attacks were so laboured and slow that it made Burnley’s job of containing them a whole lot easier.

What the Clarets may need


v Crystal Palace (H) 1-1 (Draw)

v Stoke (A) 2-0 (Loss)

v Southampton (H) 0-0 (D)

v Everton (A) 0-0 (D)

v Leicester (H) 1-0 (Win)

v Arsenal (A) 3-0 (L)

v Chelsea (A) 2-0 (L)

35 points: The Tyne-Wear derby victory against Newcastle couldn’t have come at a better time for Dick Advocaat’s men when confidence was rock bottom. Jermain Defoe’s sensational volley also seemed to raise the ex-England international’s confidence massively and it should give them fresh impetus in this survival battle.

Aston Villa 

v QPR (H) 1-1 (Draw)

v Tottenham (A) 2-1 (Loss)

v Man City (A) 2-1 (L)

v Everton (H) 1-0 (Win)

v West Ham (H) 1-0 (W)

v Southampton (A) 1-0 (L)

v Burnley (H) 1-1 (D)

36 points: People have been waxing lyrical about the job Tim Sherwood has done since taking over the reigns at Villa but it has been less spouted about that they are once again beginning to flirt with the idea of relegation. Following a difficult double against Spurs and Man City, I’d expect them to bounce back with a much more presentable pair of games against inconsistent Everton and a free-falling West Ham.


v Southampton (A) 1-0 (Loss)

v Liverpool (H) 1-1 (Draw)

v Crystal Palace (A) 1-1 (D)

v Arsenal (H) 1-3 (L)

v Burnley (H) 1-0 (W)

v Tottenham (A) 1-0 (L)

v Man United (H) 2-2 (D)

34 points: Steve Bruce’s men may not have been the obvious relegation candidates but having not got the better of the likes of Sunderland and Swansea in recent weeks, they now face a daunting set of fixtures which could feasibly send them back down to the Championship. I see some points being gained against a Liverpool team with their confidence low and a United team likely to have nothing to play for on the final day.


v Aston Villa (A) 1-1 (Draw)

v Chelsea (H) 1-2 (Loss)

v West Ham (H) 3-2 (W)

v Liverpool (A) 2-0 (L)

v Man City (A) 2-0 (L)

v Newcastle (H) 3-1 (Win)

v Leicester (A) 2-1 (L)

32 points: I was as shocked as anyone following their demolition of West Brom at the Hawthorns though it seemed as if everything they hit had the Midas touch. And I doubt many teams they face in coming up will be as bad as the Baggies. Villa in particular who will prove a tough nut to crack on their own patch even if QPR are brimming with belief.


v West Brom (A) 1-1 (Draw)

v Swansea (H) 1-1 (D)

v Burnley (A) 1-1 (D)

v Newcastle (H) 3-1 (Win)

v Southampton (H) 1-2 (Loss)

v Sunderland (A) 1-0 (Loss)

v QPR (H) 2-1 (W)

31 points: That victory against West Ham has been a long time coming for Nigel Pearson’s men. They’ve really been unfortunate this season with their luck and shouldn’t be rock bottom of the table. I see them picking up a share of the spoils in their next three games because that belief will now be channeling through their veins but when push comes to shove I feel they will just fall short when it truly matters.

How can Burnley do it?

As you can see from my predictions, when Burnley play their relegation rivals I don’t see the best results. In the end, these clashes are fought hard by both teams and the reason why the Clarets haven’t been too successful in them over the course of the season has been due to that lack of quality and cutting edge.

It means the key matches are the three against teams with little but pride to play for in Everton, West Ham and Stoke. I think two wins against these three should be enough to compensate for not winning the games against those fighting for their lives. So the best realistic possibility would be:

v Arsenal (H) 0-2 (Loss)

v Everton (A) 0-0 (Draw)

v Leicester (H) 1-1 (D)

v West Ham (A) 0-1 (Win)

v Hull (A) 1-0 (L)

v Stoke (H) 1-0 (W)

v Aston Villa (A) 1-1 (D)

35 points: Of course a victory against Leicester at home or Hull away would take the pressure off these fixtures against good opponents with little incentive but I feel they will be the catalyst to survival.

A tough ask but definitely not impossible, particularly if Leicester are beaten at home, the best chance for that third win.

Burnley MOTM

Scott Arfield 7/10: Really blossoming in that central position now which is allowing people to forgetting about the sidelined Dean Marney. Never shirked a tackle and always looks to be positive with his distribution of the ball and push Burnley forward.

Tom Heaton 6/10: Relatively untroubled barring some strikes from outside the box

Kieran Trippier 7/10: Impressive as ever down his side at stopping the Tottenham supply and causing havoc when bombing on

Michael Duff 7/10: Clattering into Harry Kane by the touch-line epitomised the no-nonsense approach to his defensing no matter who he faces

Jason Shackell 6/10: Another decent game alongside his trustworthy partner Duff though needs to be wary of wayward passes

Ben Mee 7/10: Now adds a real assurance to the left side of the defence having been often a weak link earlier in the season

George Boyd 7/10: Burnley’s ‘marathon man’ ran Spurs ragged at times although lacked the killer pass or finish when on those lung-bursting runs

David Jones 7/10: Typically safe in his passing and all-round play and his stable head is an important cog in the wheel

Ashley Barnes 6/10: He can’t be dropped as he is one of Burnley’s key figures but he is not a winger. Nonetheless the effort and hunger is still there which will trouble opposing full-backs

Danny Ings 6/10: Lots of invention and craft without the end product. A little low on confidence perhaps

Sam Vokes 6/10: Ran his socks off and held the ball up successfully for the most part

Tottenham MOTM

Christian Eriksen 7/10: The main threat for an underwhelming top four chasing Tottenham. Eriksen is an excellent talent, very much in the mould of David Silva, but he can use both feet. It was hardly the Dane’s greatest game in white but his runs from deep and close control while making those runs made him a threat whenever Spurs went on the counter-attack.

Vorm 6, Walker 6, Chirices 7, Dier 7, Rose 7, Bentaleb 6, Mason 6, Chadli 6, Paulinho 3, Kane 6

What’s your assessment of the game? Comment below.