Podcast 78: “11 men standing in a field”

Adam and James join Jamie this week.

They discuss the dull Stoke game in all its glory before moving on to consider, as we seem to do weekly, Danny Ings, his future, and his comments about social media. Finally, the panel go through the squad and rate each player on their overall performance this season (spoiler: it all gets a bit chaotic and the scale of player ratings goes to pot).

As always, feel free to email any feedback about the podcast to podcast@nonaynever.net.

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. Please consider subscribing to the podcast via a mobile app, or iTunes, to get the podcast delivered to you as soon as it’s available. Check out our guide if you’re not sure how to do that.

This podcast is sponsored by Neville Gee.

Danny Ings, Twitter and how it all turned bitter

Imagine you’re Kieran Trippier. 24 years old. Tweeting the things you’d expect to hear from a young footballer: happy birthdays to old friends, new boots, meals at bloody Nino’s.

Yet invariably, no matter what you tweet, the first reply will always be some melt telling you you’re too good for Bournemouth.

Trippier’s fellow young starlet Danny Ings this week caused a mini-storm in his matchday programme interview by admitting he had been hurt by some of the social media abuse directed towards him over the course of the season.

Predictably, the revelation led to him receiving more of the same.

And it begs the question – are we pushing our players towards the exit?

Football was a little simpler prior to the dotcom boom. Players could have a stinker on a Saturday afternoon, spend their evening oblivious to the fact that there were three blokes calling them fit to burn all night in the Miners, and return to training on Monday to start afresh.

The QWERTY keyboard warriors of today on the other hand have barely passed the Fanzone before they’re putting the world to rights in 140 characters – tagging in all culprits along the way.

Twitter being Twitter, you’ll normally only hear from those with an axe to grind. The best restaurants can cook hundreds and hundreds of faultless meals, and the first bit of feedback they’ll get is from some thickneck complaining their ice cream was too cold.

I know what you’re thinking. They take their money at the end of the week, so they should shoulder the blame when things go haywire. It’s part and parcel of football isn’t it – especially when our extortionate ticket prices go towards said wages?

That’s maybe a fair point to make against train companies and broadband providers. For example, when I take out a broadband package I don’t usually do so with an assumption that its performance will dip over a tricky winter period. It’s reasonable of me to expect a fairly consistent service.

And in any case, these companies are essentially faceless to us. I don’t presume my tweet to Virgin Media will be fast tracked to Richard Branson. More likely to a paid social media operator who couldn’t give a shit about my online shopping.

But when we tweet Danny Ings, or Kieran Trippier, we’re tweeting an actual person. So they might be a personal hero. So you might have seen them on the tele. But underneath it all, they’re real people, who have on and off days, and react to criticism in much the same way as me and you.

If you don’t understand why Danny Ings would be hurt at unfounded accusations that he’s stopped trying, or why Kieran Trippier must be sick to the back teeth of the constant barrage of bile which fill up his notifications, then you mustn’t understand simple human motivation.

If we want to succeed as a club, we can’t demand the loyalty of our players before proceeding to piss them off and irritate them every Saturday night.

And here’s the key point – because how you choose to speak to and interact with these people will impact upon their confidence, their morale and their motivation, it will consequently impact upon the score at the final whistle.

It’s that simple.

This isn’t me trying to quash anyone’s freedom of speech. If you really do get your kicks from slagging off minor celebrities online then be my guest.

But next time Ashley Barnes cups his ears to the crowd after scoring a goal, or a player chooses to look elsewhere rather than sign a new contract, let it be a reminder that we all play a part in shaping our players’ perceptions of the club that they play for.

Danny Ings would have left at the end of this season, regardless of all this nonsense. He has been a fantastic servant to the club, deserves to be playing in the top flight and I wish him all the best wherever he pitches up.

But just bear it in mind that as fans, we have the ability to make that decision to leave just a little bit harder.

And so I return to the Kieran Trippier example with which I began.

When over the coming weeks, he tweets about his upcoming break to Marbella, the final of Britain’s Got Talent, or a meal at bloody Nino’s, remember that what you reply will partly shape his opinion of our football club.

So if you’re about to mither him about Bournemouth, get a bloody grip.

Do you agree or should players brush off social media abuse? Comment below.

Thoughts for next season

As the curtain came down on Premier League football at Turf Moor once again, and those fans who chose to stay behind waited for the players and coaching staff to complete their lap of honour, my thoughts turned to next season.

Squad

Assuming that our only casualties are Danny Ings and Shacks (the former being dramatically confirmed post-Stoke and the latter rumoured to be rekindling his partnership with Eddie Howe), then we have a pretty decent Championship squad.

Lee Hoos this week confirmed what everyone outside of the Burnley boardroom already knew – we didn’t “need” to sell anyone. Let’s face it, if we did “need” to sell given our frugal approach to the Premier League campaign then we have more to worry about than how we solve our central midfield problem!

Squad (Part 2)

We, of course, still need to invest and SD has already flirted around this subject during his pre-match presssers.

Dean Marney has extended his deal for another 12 months and Duffer is expected to follow suit next week. Sure, there are some other players out of contract but they are primarily “fringe” players and I don’t expect any of them to be retained on new deals.

The shopping list needn’t be that long, but we need a CM and a striker as top priority.

Strikeforce

Sam and Ashley appear to be our first choice partnership up front and you know what, that is a good choice. We know of Sam’s quality and I firmly believe he can recreate his dazzling 2013/2014 form even without the #vings phenomenon. Mark my words, NNN will be selling #VARNES t-shirts come the Christmas retail rush.

Let’s not be shy here though … Juke has been an unmitigated disaster and I don’t expect him to feature regularly in the team. Sure, we probably won’t be able to sell him either. That leaves us with Sordell for cover, who I still believe SD will persist with.

My number one choice for striker recruitment is Rudy Gestede from our neighbours. We take their only decent striker and they can’t buy to replace (transfer embargo). Win-win scenario.

Midfield

This has been, in my opinion, our biggest problem during the Premier League campaign. The supply-line to the forward men was non-existent. And Tripps can’t be expected to do it all himself.

We have to create more chances. To do this, we have to get our wing-men back on fire. Number one mission is to get Arfield out of CM and get him back on the wing. Give that Marney is not expected to be back until Christmas then this means we also need to add a CM to the shopping list. Depending on what austerity measures the club implement post-Villa, we do have Fredrik Ulvestad who looked decent when he briefly featured in the Stoke game.

I also predict George Boyd to run riot against most Championship midfields!

Defence

The nightmare that all Clarets are dreading is the loss of Tripps. He is irreplaceable. But let’s not worry about that for now.

Losing Shacks would be a real blow, but we can cope. We have Duffer and Keane, but if I was in charge of the dressing room, I would finally move Ben Mee into the centre and play Ward at left back.

The Championship is ace!

Here’s why:

  • More games
  • We win
  • We score goals
  • We don’t have to avoid MOTD
  • We don’t have to listen to “Little Old Burnley” tripe in the media
  • You can park near the ground
  • You can get a pie at half-time
  • The Football League show has finally been canned

The list is endless (although it did end just there – ed).

We have gone through promotion twice now in our Championship lives. The first was as play-off winners. The second was automatic promotion as runners-up.

Let’s go get that title!

Are you looking forward to next season? Comment below.

Why it must be Le Fondre

The natural replacement for Danny Ings when he inevitably leaves is 28-year-old Adam Le Fondre. The striker, currently on loan at Bolton from Cardiff, looks certain to leave in the summer and would slot perfectly into the role vacated by Danny Ings.

A player who has successfully delivered goals at every level he has played at is exactly the kind of replacement that is needed for next season, rather than taking a punt on an up and coming youngster, someone from the lower leagues or, god forbid, Marvin Sordell or Juke…

Since joining Wanderers in January, eight goals in 16 starts ensured Le Fondre ended the campaign as their top goal scorer. To score eight goals in a team that’s had a pretty poor season, finishing 18th, is testament to Le Fondre’s ability and opens up the possibility of what he could do in a team that offered him quality support, like Burnley did to Vokes and Ings last season.

In previous seasons, Le Fondre has already had a stab at Premier League level, becoming well known for scoring a number of late goals from the bench at Reading to rescue points against the likes of Newcastle and Chelsea. Le Fondre scored 39 goals in a 104 appearances for Reading. Ings (so far) has scored 37 goals in 120 appearances for the Clarets.

Like Ings, It took Le Fondre time to become established as one of the club’s main strikers, with many of his 104 appearances being made from the bench. However it took Le Fondre an awful lot longer, with 51 of his 104 appearances being off the bench, when compared to Danny Ings’ 23. However, don’t let this fool you into labelling Le Fondre as a ‘super sub’ kind of player. Back-to-back hat tricks against Bolton and Blackpool in his final season for Reading were the highlight of a campaign in which he finished on 15 goals. Previously in his career, he had ended 2009-2010 at Rotherham with an incredible 30 goals.

Some critics may point to the fact that Le Fondre couldn’t replicate his goal scoring ability at Cardiff, scoring just three times in 21 appearances. However it has been reported that the Stockport-born striker missed the north of England, that his family were all based up there and that the absence just did not sit well with him. Furthermore, Le Fondre was constantly played out of position and in a team constantly bombarded with off the pitch issues regarding kit colours, general Vincent Tan madness and so on, this was never going to end well.

So is this a move that could realistically happen or is this article just a muddle of stats and figures of a player that, like so many of our transfer targets at the beginning of this season, will simply disappear over the horizon? Cardiff’s manager Russell Slade has announced that Le Fondre will be available at a price and the striker himself has expressed an interest in staying at Bolton.

Financial pressures at Bolton might make there a permanent transfer unlikely and a move to a team who will be expected to push for an immediate return to the Premier League would surely be seen as a step up for Le Fondre. A switch to Burnley would also cause the least disruption for him and his family.

However, Cardiff are hoping to recoup most of the £3million fee that took Le Fondre to Wales and questions must be asked about whether Burnley would be willing to pay that much since we were unwilling to fork out that much more on players to stay in the top flight. Despite this, a solid replacement for Ings is needed and a big money move (big by Burnley’s standards!) could be the best way for the board to prove that it has ambition and the fight to return to the Premier League.

Burnley next season will be crying out for a Vings type partnership that took the Championship by storm last season. Le Fondre and Ings are very similar players in terms of size and goalscoring ability and to see Le Fondre in the number 10 shirt for the Clarets on the opening day of the 2015-2016 season would be the first step on the road to returning to the Premier League.

Would Le Fondre be a good signing? Comment below. 

Football has a communication problem

People are often quick to bash the Club’s communication strategy. The Club are quick to respond that they can do no more to improve the strategy. They’re as open and honest as they can be, they say. They publish interviews with the chairmen, the CEO Lee Hoos, and the manager Sean Dyche. That’s transparency, right?

But just because they publish them, it doesn’t mean they’re useful or help clarify things. You see, the game is entrenched in an abundance of cliches and statements of “nothingness”. Because there’s such a demand for content in football – for quotes, interviews, and generally knowledge — the pumps have run dry and we’re left with lazy, false content filled with words that actually mean very little.

Take Lee Hoos, for example. He has a knack for saying a lot without really saying much at all. Hoos is a controversial figure for a number of well known reasons (his ticketing policy, a perceived lack of control – however false this perception is – in the transfer market, and probably because he’s American, knowing Burnley fans) but when NNN met with Hoos back in February, he seemed a genuine guy. He seemed to care about the Club. But he’s cursed with a case of management speak.

Take the most recent statement from Hoos, posted on the official website, for example. Some of it was understandable, but some of it meant absolutely nothing. Here’s two sentences of it, for demonstrative purposes:

“There been speculation about Sean, but he is making plans for the final two games and then next season and how we take the club forward.

“The really important thing now is that if you take two steps forward and one back, you are still going forwards.”

Let’s pull it apart:

There been speculation about Sean

We knew that already, but it’s fair enough that he establishes the context of his comments.

He is making plans for the final two games

Did the aforementioned speculation assert that Sean had stopped doing his job in the meantime?

Then next season and how we take the club forward.

See above. It’s his job to make plans for the future. Why would he stop now, when he’s still under contract? No one was saying he wasn’t making plans, but rather if he’s on a rolling contract as the BBC have reported, there’s a possibility that he could leave. The whole sentence clears literally nothing up.

The really important thing now

Again, he’s establishing context. Fair enough. Maybe he’ll give us some insight into the plans for the future as the sentence goes on.

Is that if you take two steps forward and one back, you are still going forwards.

Oh. It’s just a metaphor. That really wasn’t any good to us. Fans love detail. I think there’d be a genuine appetite for fans to know exactly the plan from here. What’s the general recruitment policy? You’ve told us in that statement we don’t have to sell players, but what about adding them? That’s what we really want to know.

How long is Dyche’s contract? When are talks being held to extend or renew it?

There are burning questions, yet all we get in the statement is the facts that we’re financially sound, we don’t need to sell players, and that the board are “ambitious”. Okay, maybe vaguely interesting to some, but all those facts are essentially common knowledge and easy to work out.

I’m not having a pop at Hoos individually, he’s just an example, because it’s a much wider problem than that. Football is filled with these non-statements and stale press releases. Take a look at any club and you’ll see them. Sky Sports News interviews, where powers that be tend to simply evade the question but also pretend they’re answering it at the same time. And in some ways it’s understandable because stale press releases, statements, and interviews are safe. In an industry of intense media and fan scrutiny, the safe option will always be preferred.

But it’s boring. Absolutely boring. And it makes people think those giving statements are hiding something. The management speak and statements-that-don’t-state-anything make football look aloof and dishonest. Granted, parts of football may be aloof and dishonest, but I’m not sure Lee Hoos is in that camp. If people read things and come out the other side thinking “I’m not really sure what that said” then they’re going to think the communication is bad.

Back in February, after the transfer window, Sean Dyche offered a welcome antidote to the stale and boring press comments and soundbites. In an 11-minute video posted to the Club’s YouTube channel, Dyche spoke at length about the transfer window and was refreshingly honest.

He didn’t avoid the issue, or filibuster the question by speaking platitudes about the transfer window as a concept, his philosophies, or speak about how important it was that we made two steps forward and are taking one step back so we’re still going forward. He dealt with it. And it made a lot of fans more understanding – though not happy – of the situation.

The same goes for the Ashley Barnes incident, where the Club again posted a 10-minute video for Dyche to give his views on the matter. And they were genuine views, not fluff or guff. Dyche is well known for his soundbites — “relentless”, “good group”, “one game at a time”, “market leaders” — but at least on these two occasions, he’s bucked the trend. The Club deserve credit for that too.

But it shouldn’t be hard to answer the questions fans want to know the answers to. Maybe those in football don’t realise how frustrating it is — maybe they’re so caught up in it all that they don’t understand what it looks like from the outside. But we shouldn’t have to ever read between the lines.

If football wants to engage more with its fans, then it needs to sack off the cliches, the management speak, and the statements of nothingness that engulf it.

Podcast 77: “I don’t want to break it to you but we have been relegated”

This week’s podcast features Jamie, Jordan, James and Robbie.

The panel discuss the win against Hull, Sean Dyche’s recent quotes about his future at the club, turning points and key moments of the season, relegation as a whole, and more.

As always, feel free to email any feedback about the podcast to podcast@nonaynever.net.

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. Please consider subscribing to the podcast via a mobile app, or iTunes, to get the podcast delivered to you as soon as it’s available. Check out our guide if you’re not sure how to do that.

This episode was sponsored by Neville Gee. Thanks to our editor Stephen Long.

You can find last week’s episode, hosted by Adam, here.

Dyche not blameless – but he remains my choice

Now that our relegation is confirmed a degree of “in it together” should be foremost at this time, and unlike other sides we leave the division with our heads held high, boding well for “bouncebackability” next season, to quote Iain Dowie.

There is also no reason not to calmly analyse our season and identify weaknesses for next time. It is too easy to fall into the trap of absolving the manager and players of any responsibility due to having the smallest budget, but while this is a big factor, it is not the biggest.

Are finances everything?

We are all set to battle for 18th and 19th place with two sides that have spent about £70m on transfer fees (ignoring all the other associated costs like wages) between them (according to transferleague.co.uk). Our £10m was eclipsed by QPR matching their 2012/13 investment of £36m, and Hull added £41m to last season’s £26m, proving that talent, not money, is the primary variable affecting league position. One can buy the other but it is far from guaranteed.

The term “talent” incorporates the touchline too (and the recruitment team). We appear to have fallen short in every department, but only marginally. OK, few of our players would get in any other side. The board were a touch too frugal with expenditure (maybe we had £20m left from the TV money but spent £10m). The recruitment team (including the manager) didn’t identify the correct options that we were capable of signing and would improve us. The manager has had other failings too, as I touch on below, particularly signings, player type and tactics.

I am thus unconvinced that had we left the division having spent every penny of the TV money, it would have got us to the (probable) 38 points required.

Signings

They haven’t improved the side, by and large. Our fees were spent on George Boyd, Lukas Jutkiewicz, Marvin Sordell, Michael Keane and Michael Kightly. Stephen Ward, Matt Gilks and Matt Taylor were frees. Only Taylor and Boyd were not consigned to the bench by the end of the season, Taylor (along with Dean Marney) being unlucky with injuries in a way that has cost us hugely.

Dyche has to take a lion’s share of responsibility for these signings even if he has to be blameless with people like Graham Dorrans if it is true he was in the building on deadline evening. He has to share a lot of responsibility with the board though – Trot Deeney was available for £11m I think – and that kind of quality next to Ings may well have made the difference. The model that sensible sides use in their first season is to spend about £20m (like Hull) – we probably wanted to spend it on three or four more players and ended up with none.

Dyche’s old school approach to player personality

The Premier League was the proving ground for Dyche’s famous philosophy that the glue that holds everything together is respect, good manners, good time-keeping, pride, passion, hard work, belief and integrity. Every player he signs probably has to have those qualities. That could be argued to be quite a restricted pool he could then dip into, and a second problem is that there is scant evidence that those qualities equate to Premier League success.

Too often an overpaid, self-serving, flamboyant player, often from overseas, proves the reason clubs perform well at this level. The qualities Dyche refers to can often be mixed in with less desirable ones – over thinking, sensitivity, lack of selfishness and panic.

Maybe when the pressure is on in those momentary key occasions on the pitch, there has been too big an awareness of what is at stake? Danny Ings’ cool finishing at Hull seemed no coincidence that it came after the pressure was largely off. I am one who praises Danny’s commitment even in the knowledge he is leaving, but between his ears the pressure of being the main man has seemed too much.

Tactical inflexibility

The final issue is one of tactics. Most pundits ridiculed our approach of 4-4-2 coupled with abandoning possession in order to put defences under pressure. We hoped they would be wrong. The trouble is, they were right. Our approach will lead to us scoring – though we lacked a penalty box poacher. However, at the other end this gives opponents too much possession and at this level they have the quality to hurt us with it.

We rely on blocking shots (and in my view have the division’s best blocker in Shacks). We have blocked 174 shots so far, second place is West Ham on 156. Giving opponents the ball too many times this close to goal though is a bit like Russian Roulette.

We conceded almost as many as Leicester while breaking our club’s lack of goals record twice in one season. At times our approach had clearly been outsmarted by a tactical change – yet there was usually no response from our bench.

Is Dyche still the best man for the job?

I thus feel that Dyche is the 18th best manager in the Premier League, ahead of John Carver and Chris Ramsey but behind other more experienced names (often playing at this level then managing at it). I do though feel he remains the best man for the job, and he gets my full support.

Why is he the right man? Well….

He got us up last time, fairly easily despite a shocking injury crisis in the run in, and this is a level he can be effective at.

I like him, and I like his values, despite what I say above about the effectiveness of them at this level. I don’t want to give my money to buy a new Lambo for a primadonna who doesn’t give a hoot. He didn’t have loyalty in the list (probably thought it would be ridiculous in football) but I think we should show it to him if he does to us. It makes us different.

He makes us popular. I have never heard us praised so much by other fans. I know Tony Pulis and equivalents would do well for us but I would hate it for a number of reasons.

He is good at polishing raw gems. Maybe not so good at finding them, but Burnley will always need to punch above their weight as we have for 100+ years and need a good polisher (apart from in the trophy cabinet room).

His tactics work in the Championship. Defences cannot cope with a skilled hold up striker winning a quick ball before they are set, his teammates buzzing around him, or a high press from the midfield, and it allows us to stay solid at the back too as we don’t need too many men forward.

Changing manager is a risk, and anyone who runs a business will know that avoiding risk is one key task, mitigating it is then another. Thus you should only change if you know you can get better in, and I don’t see it.

In the Premier League the managers are the crème de la crème, some of the world’s top guys trying to outsmart each other, skilled at changing a game when it isn’t working. Dyche has been outclassed by them in the fine margins of the game but this isn’t the case in the Championship.

Dyche entered the Premier League without a single day of experience as either a player or a manager at the top level. He is up against guys who have spent a career there. Next time, he will be far more experienced.

It somehow feels like we got the hard bit right but messed up the easy bit, which may not happen again. Cover for central midfield in January didn’t seem difficult. Scoring goals when creating great chances didn’t seem difficult. Being competitive in over 35 games is. But we did it.

So all in all, Sean Dyche remains the main man in my mind.

Not just because he is ginger (like me). Not just because he was born in 1971 (like me). Not because he seems to be a stats nerd (like me). Because all things considered, he gave it a good crack, and he remains the best man for the job.

Do you agree with Steve that Burnley should keep Dyche? Comment below.

Questioning Ings is ridiculous

It is strange to regard Danny Ings as a divisive character.

Warm and affable when off the pitch and driven and talented when on it, Ings possesses the necessary requisites to become a fondly remembered figure at Turf Moor when he inevitably departs in the summer.

Yet some Burnley supporters have had their tempers frayed by a perceived lack of commitment from the striker at various points over the course of the season, alluding to barren spells in front of goal and poor decision-making as signs of disinterest.

To question the ability and attitude of a man who has contributed to over 50% of Burnley’s goals in the Premier League seems ridiculous.

And that’s because it is.

Ten league goals in the 22-year-old’s maiden Premier League campaign is a respectable return, and there remains a chance that such a tally could be added to against Stoke City and Aston Villa. Four assists is also a commendable amount, and these figures mean that Ings has contributed to half of Burnley’s total goal amount this season.

If these are the stats of a striker who has lacked the mental fortitude to truly flourish this season, then some Claret supporters are perhaps more difficult to appease than originally anticipated.

Ings’ head has been reportedly turned by the prospect of joining Manchester United or Liverpool in the summer, although with an English quota to gratify the striker may be a target for more clubs than these.

There has even been mooted interest from David Moyes’ Real Sociedad, with Ings’ brief venture to Spain believed to have affected his game against Sunderland in January according to Sean Dyche.

It was bound to, in some respects. It has been a phenomenal rise from Bournemouth starlet to Premier League marksman, and rumoured vultures of this calibre circling Turf Moor would affect the thoughts of any young striker.

So the proposition of a more lucrative contract elsewhere has fast become the ideal stick with which to beat the striker each time a chance is spurned, a ready-made excuse for fans to almost feel smug that their premonitions have been confirmed.

He’s hit a post? He doesn’t care. A mistimed header? Get him out. A poor pass? I’ll pack his bags.

The way in which Ings conducts himself frankly suggests that he has been committed to Burnley all season, regardless of his destination come July or August.

The willingness to run in behind and create space has been as evident as ever, the first touch equally as ingenious. It is clear when Ings takes to the field that he is a cut above his attacking contemporaries at the club, regardless of how we may wish otherwise.

In a division as competitive as the Premier League and thus the quest for points more difficult, it can admittedly be forgotten in the moment just how far the striker has come in a relatively short space of time.

Perspective is required in these instances, and a reasonable amount of slack to be readied. Critics may look enviously to Charlie Austin at QPR, Burnley’s previous goalscorer extraordinaire, and ask why Ings hasn’t matched his exploits if he is just as good.

But a striker who spends the majority of his time in the box, poaching and waiting for opportunities, is bound to be presented with more tangible opportunities than one who drags defenders wide and who is forced to make lateral runs on the edge of the area with a path to goal blocked.

Ings was only playing regular football in the Championship for the first time last season, and likewise with the big boys this term. To expect every chance to be buried is optimistic; the integration process was slow but once it picked up pace, the goals soon followed.

That first one in particular was perhaps the most satisfying. After enduring a difficult spell in front of goal, Ings finally notched against Everton at home and celebrated by cupping his hands behind his ears and mouthing ‘What?’ in the direction of the home support.

Some spoke of arrogance, but many roared along with him. After receiving a torrid time on social media, Ings responded in a manner that is befitting of his whole character.

His celebration against at the KC Stadium on Saturday was similar; wheeling away in frenetic jubilation, albeit in vain.

So when he is plying his trade in the Premier League next year as we reacquaint ourselves with the Championship, let’s take heart from the fact we had a chance to dream of survival largely because of the efforts of Ings and his goals this term.

As much as the rest of the squad, Ings deserves the adulation of Burnley fans in these final two games.

Analysis: Hull 0-1 Burnley

Danny Ings ended his long-running goal drought with a fine poacher’s finish after Hull failed to clear their lines, though his tenth of the season was overshadowed by the fact that Burnley were ultimately relegated as Newcastle, Sunderland, Leicester and Aston Villa all gained positive results to scramble over that 35-point threshold – the maximum number Burnley could have got. Ings’ goal does have significance as it piles the pressure on Hull who go into their final two matches against Tottenham and Manchester United in the bottom three.

1st half highlights

– A sweeping delivery from Robbie Brady was met at the far post by the usual supplier of crosses, Ahmed Elmohamady, although the Egyptian headed well over

– David Jones’ flat corner met Ashley Barnes on the edge of the six-yard box but under the attentions of James Chester the Clarets striker’s effort was always looping over the top

– Paul McShane lost his marker George Boyd from Brady’s excellent corner and his powerful header sailed narrowly over with Tom Heaton beaten

– Barnes, having had Burnley’s only actual attempt on goal, was presented with a marginally better opening than his first chance gave him. Matt Taylor’s accurate delivery from wide picked him out 12 yards from goal but his glancing header was comfortably stopped by Steve Harper

– Brady – provider of Hull’s only decent chances until this moment -was a lick of paint from firing the Tigers into the lead with a fabulous 30-yard free kick which he whipped over the wall with lots of dip, and was only foiled by the crossbar

2nd half highlights

– Ashley Barnes’ acrobatic effort from Taylor’s tee up lacked pace but still had Harper scrambling as it bounced just wide

– Tom Huddlestone was urged to shoot by the crowd and with little back-lift from long range, the ex-Tottenham midfielder rifled an effort on goal and Heaton was grateful it was fairly central, enabling him to gather

– Taylor and Barnes’ link-up play was on show all afternoon and the former’s venomous delivery across the six-yard box was glanced well wide by the latter when a firm contact was required

– Danny Ings awakened the watching faithful with a glimpse of his undeniable quality. Starting on the flank, the target of many top Premier League clubs jinked inside Chester, Michael Dawson and then McShane before losing the ball. Hull failed to clear and despite breaking kindly for Scott Arfield in the centre of goal, his well hit strike was blocked as the deadlock looked like being broken

Hull 0-1 BURNLEY

A goal which infuriated Hull manager Steve Bruce. As Ings wheeled away in celebration, Bruce was left to rue the fact that skipper Dawson was off the field due to a bloodied nose and the position he would have vacated was the space which Ings exploited. His goal came following a corner which wasn’t properly cleared by the hosts. The ball was recycled to Ben Mee whose delivery caused problems – neither McShane nor Chester were able to get central and properly deal with the cross and Brady tried to intervene. This however was because their structure would have been for them to vacate their respective positions and allow Dawson to sweep clear. Unfortunately for Brady, his touch was heavy and Ings was able to pinch the ball before swiveling and striking beyond a helpless Harper with a fine half-volleyed strike.

– Elmohamady’s wicked cross was only half-cleared and the pressure continued to mount. Substitute Nikica Jelavic’s header was initially blocked before Stephen Quinn’s diving headed follow up was also blocked. The ball then bounced to fellow substitute Abel Hernandez though his intelligent back-heel was straight into the gloves of a thankful Heaton who was sat on the floor

– Hull’s most creative player on show Robbie Brady once again felt the wrath of lady luck with an almost identically placed free kick to the one in the first half, with a strike which drew incredible parallels to that in the first half, with a similar dip and a similar swerve yet the same result of it ricocheting off the bar

– Danny Ings powered onto a lofted pass, leaving Dawson for dead yet the ex-England international’s obvious push on Ings went unpunished and it allowed Steve Harper to collect. Ings’ honesty at staying on his feet perhaps cost the Clarets a penalty and a man advantage

– Huddlestone’s hopeful punt from wide lacked any real speed though had Jelavic and Hernandez lurking. Neither striker could get on the end of it as it appeared Heaton expected and the Burnley stopper had to adjust to claw the ball out for a corner

Win for the fans

Other than their surprise 2-1 victory at the Britannia Stadium against Stoke, Burnley have flattered to deceive on the road, failing to record a single other victory. When visiting tickets are sold out for almost every away fixture, it can be painful for the supporters to come away from a defeat on journeys that are already long enough without any hyperbole to that longevity. So first and foremost, to come away with a victory and a clean sheet from the KC Stadium must be savoured (as best as it can be) by the fans.

There were pleasing aspects to the performance as well. As soon as Danny Ings turned home the winner, you never felt as if Hull were going to get back into the tie. A couple of genius strikes from Robbie Brady aside, Burnley contained the Tigers, even when they threw the likes of Hernandez and Jelavic on from the bench. Make no mistake, barring the occasional freak result such as the 4-0 drubbing at the hands of West Brom at the Hawthorns, Burnley’s defending has been assured all season and is a shining light in a campaign that has ultimately lead to relegation. It has meant that there have been very few embarrassments for Burnley this season and the supporters can come away from the season with their heads held high that their team has competed to the best of their ability and given good accounts of themselves.

Equally pleasing was the fact that Burnley are not going down with a whimper and have well and truly stuck a knife through Steve Bruce’s plans of retaining his team’s Premier League status. When you look at Hull’s squad and the pedigree in that team. Tom Huddlestone and Michael Dawson were regulars in the Tottenham team for many years, Nikica Jelavic and Abel Hernandez cost an staggering £16 million combined yet were sat warming the bench while the likes of Jake Livermore, Ahmed Elmohamady and Robbie Brady are all very talented professionals. A mere consolation would be that Hull are potentially going to drop down a division having spent a large amount on transfer fees for a club of their size while Burnley have battled all season on a shoe string budget and their loss is ultimately much less.

While the news of relegation may threaten to dampen things, it really shouldn’t because this performance shows that Burnley have gone down fighting, and they will no doubt do so until the very end in the final matches against Stoke and Aston Villa.

Delight for Danny

The heat truly has been on Danny Ings of late and quite frankly, it’s been too much for the young lad to cope with. It would be easy to label his goal drought on the fact he’s been distracted by the attentions of other big clubs and has lost his desire to play for Burnley however that would be absolute garbage. In my previous analysis, I recited how in one moment in the Everton match, he ran from inside the opposition half into his own box to throw himself into a challenge on Seamus Coleman, yet people will pick up on the fact he didn’t score and question his commitment.

His overall commitment to the cause today was no different to any other week. His attitude was no different to any other week. The only difference was that in Hull, Burnley faced a team that play quite openly with only three at the back, and three whom aren’t blessed with a great deal of pace; the wing-backs Elmohamady and Brady like to push on and this leaves space in behind which can be exploited. Ings thrives on space to run into and utilise his excellent dribbling abilities and of course, if given a number of half opportunists, he will find the net. He had one against Leicester, one against West Ham and at the third time of asking against Hull, he managed to find the goal. Most strikers get three half chances per game which makes you question the supply that Ings has been getting.

Golden Oldies and Dyche imperative

It would be very easy to be get bogged down by relegation but it’s important at times such as these that you keep together and get behind the team.

As the Championship dawns next season, it’s imperative for the Clarets to retain the services of their experienced professionals. At times, some of Matt Taylor’s deliveries into the box were of a very high order and much better than any other man in claret and blue could muster. His range of passing in a division where space is more frequent and defenders don’t have the same excellent sense of position will be the quality difference that will decide matches. Also worthy services are those of Michael Duff who should be given a further year at Turf Moor.

Of course as well, manager Sean Dyche is the key once again. Some have questioned the manager’s tactics, labeling them predictable, and have suggested that there is potential for life after Dyche. Unfortunately I don’t share that optimism. Dyche is more than simply a manager of a team. He is a symbol of respect and togetherness, that inextricable link between board, players and fans. Taking that away could potentially alienate the board and the fans depending on who they choose to replace him and will no doubt affect the morale and mood of the players who it seems idolise the 43-year-old. I’m afraid if he follows top-scorer Danny Ings out of the club, unless his replacement was nothing short of God, then the remaining band of overachievers will find it difficult to punch above mid-table next season.

A missed opportunity…

Would be the best way to describe the current season. Following the final match against Aston Villa, I shall be evaluating exactly what went wrong in the campaign and how the 2015-16 season must be approached. But for now, there are two matches to follow and therefore the season isn’t entirely finished. You cannot write off the rest of the season when you can all but confirm thousands of fans will travel to the Midlands on the final day of the season and that 20,000 will be watching from Turf Moor this following Saturday.

If I were Dyche, I’d take this opportunity to shake things up a tad and allow starts for the likes of Michael Keane, Frederik Ulvestad, Michael Kightly, Stephen Ward and maybe even Marvin Sordell. It gives a bit more of an incentive for Burnley other than merely pride to go out there and get three points as it’s in a way putting some of those who haven’t had much action a chance to prove a point and be involved with Burnley next season.

Burnley MOTM

Jason Shackell 8/10: Resilient once again in a back four that – for the majority of the season – has continuously done its job despite the frailties of the attackers. Some excellent blocks and neutralised the array of Hull City attackers that made their way onto the field over the 90 minutes. If Burnley can hold onto their skipper going into next season, they will have done very well.

Tom Heaton 6/10: A quiet afternoon that probably brought into question his communication with his defenders on some occasions

Kieran Trippier 6/10: Didn’t bomb on too much and his set pieces are strangely poor considering his generically fabulous crossing in open play

Michael Duff 7/10: Always an assurance whenever he plays at centre half that he will be difficult to breach. Certainly 36 years young would be an apt way to discuss his age

Ben Mee 5/10: Not his greatest day in terms of passing or positioning. It may be harsh though you can’t help but feel a better defensive and offensive option in Stephen Ward has been waiting in the wings

George Boyd 5/10: Lots of running as ever but lacks involvement when it matters. Cut inside on numerous occasions but lacked the ability to make that final pass and lacks the skill to take men on

Scott Arfield 7/10: Got involved in the middle when Burnley pushed forward and worked hard. One of his better performances in the middle for the Scot having looked out of his depth in there for the most part

David Jones 7/10: A generic display by the workmanlike man. Safe in his passing, in his positioning and in everything he did really. A stable head as ever in the middle, which is important

Matt Taylor 7/10: Some promising link-up play with Ashley Barnes perhaps a sign of the top flight quality that the 32-year-old could have brought to Burnley if not for his achilles injury

Ashley Barnes 7/10: Making good runs that are finally being rewarded with deliveries from Taylor that do those runs justice

Danny Ings 7/10: Very pleasing for him to find the net and silence any ridiculous critics that questioned his commitment. Some flashes of genuine top flight quality epitomised why he is being sought by Liverpool and Manchester United

Hull MOTM

Robbie Brady 8/10: Slightly at fault for the goal with a heavy touch in his own box but was nonetheless the single most creative threat on the pitch. Two free kicks of the highest order were desperately close to rippling the back of the net and some wonderful crosses into the box were just lacking that killer finish from his team-mates.

Harper 6, Chester 6, Dawson 6, McShane 6, Elmohamady 7, Livermore 6, Huddlestone 6, Quinn 5, N’Doye 5, Aluko 5

Where next?

The Clarets welcome mid-table Stoke City to Turf Moor in their final home match of the season. It was a resounding 3-0 victory for Mark Hughes’ men against top-four chasers Tottenham this weekend, a result really testament of their fine season which has seen them surge comfortably into the top half of the table. With two matches to go, Hughes will want to set his sights on eighth placed Swansea as he bids to finish in what would be the Potters’ highest ever finish in the top flight. Burnley though with nothing to truly play for will perform with the shackles off and aim for a positive result for a packed Turf Moor. Burnley 1-1 Stoke

5 reasons for Burnley’s relegation

Burnley look set to be relegated at Hull this weekend. Even if the Clarets win at the KC Stadium on Saturday, other results could condemn them to an immediate return to the Championship.

Plenty has gone wrong this season, but let’s take a look at five of the main reasons behind our relegation.

Transfers

Lukas Jutkiewicz 2014

It could be argued that Burnley’s fate was sealed even before a ball was kicked this season.

Despite promotion looking certain as early as March, the club struggled to get their top targets in. The pattern was simple. Burnley would make an offer for a player. It would be turned down. The player would sign a fat new long-term contract to stay at their club. For a time this summer, it seemed like Groundhog Day at Turf Moor.

But were the targets right? Troy Deeney certainly looked a good choice to add to the forward line. Comparisons were swiftly drawn to the £11 million Fulham bizarrely paid for Ross McCormack, leading to claims the transfer market had been completely distorted by that deal. But Leicester’s securing of Brighton’s Leo Ulloa for £8 million suggests that was not the case.

Watford made it clear they wanted at least £10 million for Deeney, but even then he might not have moved. Deeney was the club’s captain and was determined to repay the club’s faith in him after he spent time in prison. His performances this season have been driven by that desire and it might be the case that no amount of money could have tempted him away. However, the drop in quality from Deeney to Lukas Jutkiewicz is absolutely vast: surely the club could have done better there?

Going after the likes of Craig Bryson, Henri Lansbury and Craig Dawson also seemed sound logic, but their clubs were desperate to keep hold of their players.

Bryson signed a huge new contract to stay at Derby and ended up spending most of the season on their bench – did we really miss out on much? Lansbury ended up being a pawn at Nottingham Forest as Stuart Pearce demanded he stay at the club. Pearce ended up leaving soon after anyway and Lansbury had an unspectacular year with Forest also missing out on the play-offs.

Burnley’s pursuit of Dawson appears, with hindsight, to have been hugely flawed. Bids seemed to increase by a few quid each go and by the time our offer was anywhere near acceptable Dawson had become indispensable to West Brom due to injuries to Gareth McAuley and Joleon Lescott. Maybe we could have sealed Dawson earlier in the summer with less faffing about, but would fans swap him for Michael Keane now?

The one player I would argue we really should have pushed harder for was Wigan midfielder James McArthur. He is the only one of the five apparent main targets who ended up moving last summer, signing for Crystal Palace for a fee of around £7 million. That is an awful lot of money, there is no doubt about that, but having seen Scott Arfield’s best efforts at playing as a Premier League central midfielder in the last few weeks it is clear serious investment should have been made in that area. McArthur was a player who could have made a big difference to our season. That was a big loss.

So that covers the players we missed out on, but what about those who came in?

George Boyd 2014

Frankly, each and every one of them have not been good enough. George Boyd is the only new arrival to have become indispensable and even he has flattered to deceive at times. For every moment of top class ability – like his winning goal against Manchester City – there has been a match where he has been ineffective, running around a lot but providing nothing else. Was he worth £3 million? Probably not, but he should tear up the Championship. Keane is one for the future but he frequently looked like he was not ready for the Premier League, regularly getting beaten far too easily in the air from set pieces, most notably against Manchester United where pub team level defending against Chris Smalling – Chris Smalling for crying out loud! – cost us a famous win at Old Trafford.

The rest? A complete waste of money. Michael Kightly cost in the region of £1.5 million and has been underused by Sean Dyche. Whatever we paid for goalless strikers Lukas Jutkiewicz and Marvin Sordell, probably over £2 million for the pair, the money would have been better used by throwing it straight down the drain. Stephen Ward was a decent addition but is now confusingly warming the bench. Matt Gilks and Fredrik Ulvestad have not got their boots dirty. Matt Taylor and Steven Reid might as well have retired last summer for all the impact they have had this season.

Allowing our only specialist midfield cover – Nathaniel Chalobah – to leave the club in January with no replacement arriving was a total joke. Our transfer strategy was a disaster all season.

Spending

money

The transfer strategy was dreadful, but was that because of the budget that was set by the board?

Dyche might have spent more than any Burnley manager in history – about £10 million over the course of the season – but that figure is still dwarfed by pretty much every other Premier League club. Leicester City, for example, paid close to £10 million each for Ulloa and Andrej Kramaric and are paying Esteban Cambiasso in the region of £40,000 a week. QPR didn’t spend a fortune by their usual standards but still gave Rio Ferdinand an £80,000 a week deal even though he’s finished.

When asked what he would do differently, Dyche said this week: “Get the cheque book out.”

Dyche’s frustration is obvious and shared by the fans, but why should he get off scot-free? The likes of Sordell and Jutkiewicz would not have been signed if he did not want them at Turf Moor. He plays a role in deciding the top targets, who were mostly either unavailable or unwilling to move.

Burnley could have spent more money in the summer, but if we had not found better players than the ones we ended up with, it would have just been more cash wasted.

The most baffling thing about our spending this season was the January transfer window, when we were assured that there was extra cash to spend. Apart from Keane’s loan being converted into a permanent deal – good business, admittedly – Burnley did absolutely nothing in the transfer window. Blaming the board for our lack of transfer activity is short-sighted when we brought in ten players over the season, spending £10 million in total, and only one of them is in the team. Is that their fault?

More cash would not necessarily have been the answer. After all, we got promoted last year by spending almost nothing apart from a £450,000 January deal to bring in Ashley Barnes, a fact Dyche has been keen to repeat. It is hypocritical for him to hype his achievements working on a tight budget last season then complain that more money was not spent this year.

Tactics

@BurnleyOfficial
@BurnleyOfficial

My main issue with Dyche this season, however, has been his tactics.

Burnley have played essentially the same way all year, the same way we played to great effect last season. There has been very little flexibility and almost no mid-match changes by Dyche, whose preference to leave his substitutions until very late in the game has become a running joke. We play a very direct style of football, far too direct at times, making us predictable to defend against.

Answer me this: how many Premier League clubs can you name that play 4-4-2 these days? There are hardly any. Manchester City are the highest profile of them but it is a bit different when you have Yaya Toure to play in a midfield two instead of Scott Arfield and when you have David Silva playing on the left wing instead of Ashley Barnes.

Flexibility is hugely important in the Premier League and Dyche has rarely shown any. We made a rare switch from the 4-4-2 for the away game at West Brom and got absolutely battered, an experience that seems to have scared Dyche off trying something different. But the game at the Hawthorns was a terrible time to experiment. We had a half a dozen first team players missing through injury or suspension, had square pegs in round holes all over the pitch (Steven Reid in the holding role!) and still lost mainly due to defending set pieces like a bunch of blind strangers.

Dean Marney’s injury should have forced Dyche away from his beloved 4-4-2 but he has ploughed on with it despite only having one specialist central midfielder available – David Jones – who has frequently looked slow and out of his depth playing against experienced trios. The return to fitness of Matt Taylor provided the ideal time to turn to 4-3-3 and still Dyche insists on sticking with 4-4-2, which has not worked time and time again this season.

One of the defining matches of the season was when Crystal Palace came to Turf Moor under their new manager Alan Pardew. Burnley got off to a good start and took the lead, but Pardew showed the tactical flexibility that is required in the Premier League, switching winger Jason Puncheon to a central roaming role, where he caused havoc. Dyche had no answer. Palace came back to win 3-2.

Goals

Danny Ings and Sam Vokes
Burnley Football Club

A blind man on a galloping horse could see that Burnley have not scored enough goals this season.

We are currently haven’t scored in six matches and have only scored once in our last nine games, that superb strike by Boyd to defeat the defending champions at Turf Moor.

Our top scorer is Danny Ings with nine and only Barnes comes anywhere close – he has five. Jutkiewicz and Sordell have not scored a single goal between them in the league and Sam Vokes has just one cup goal to his name since his return from injury. What about midfield? Boyd has come up with a few, but the others have barely contributed. Ben Mee has got a couple from set pieces but it’s the same story at the back.

Burnley are paying the price for not bringing in a goalscorer last summer. Jutkiewicz and Sordell were not even good in the Championship last season and we were expecting them to step up to the Premier League. Laughable.

Ings has had good patches of form, most notably just after the turn of the year, perhaps no coincidence that it was when the transfer window was open. But a lot of the time he has looked overawed by the pressures of the Premier League, especially given the fact that if he doesn’t score, we usually don’t score. His confidence has hit rock bottom in recent weeks, to the extent he allowed Taylor to take – and miss – the decisive penalty against Leicester at Turf Moor recently. Nine goals is a reasonable return for Ings in his first season in the top flight but fans will remember the chances he has missed too. Maybe we expect too much of Ings. He is just 22 after all.

Being able to bring in a striker of the quality of Troy Deeney could have made all the difference.

Ulloa’s 12 goals look like they are going to keep Leicester in the Premier League. Hull signed Dame N’Doye in January and his five goals could keep them up. Jermain Defoe has not scored many for Sunderland since his mid-season arrival but they could still survive thanks to his strikes against us, Swansea and Newcastle. QPR would be down already if it wasn’t for ex-Claret Charlie Austin.

We just don’t have someone we can rely on to score regular goals. That has been absolutely crucial.

Luck

Dean Marney 2014

Luck always plays a part and while they say it evens out over the season, it’s arguable that that’s not been the case for us.

Ings has been booked twice for simulation when he could have been awarded penalties, although with a conversion record of just one from three from 12 yards we might have missed them. Sam Vokes should have had a spot kick when he was hauled back late on against Swansea at Turf Moor.

There are plenty of other examples where big decisions have gone against us. Just last weekend FA Cup final referee Jon Moss ludicrously sent Michael Duff off, condemning us to a 1-0 defeat at West Ham. We might have still lost if Duff had stayed on, but we would have had a better chance. Marney’s injury is perhaps the biggest example of bad luck we have had all season.

We’ve scored more own goals than proper goals recently, with Tom Heaton and Jason Shackell unluckily putting through their own net. These margins make a difference come the end of the year.

They say you make your own luck and perhaps that is true – and it hasn’t all gone against us. Barnes could have been sent off at Chelsea and Diego Costa should have had penalties in both games against us. Barnes’ winner against Southampton at Turf Moor took a decisive deflection. That’s just off the top of my head. Generally it feels like we haven’t quite had the run of the ball this year, but maybe it wouldn’t have made that much of a difference anyway – who knows.

Burnley’s relegation is likely to be confirmed this weekend and these five reasons – transfers, spending, tactics, goals and luck – are why we are going down this season.

Why are we going down? What could we have done differently? Comment below.