SKIPPER Jason Shackell feels Burnley need to “grow up fast” after their latest defensive calamity.
The Clarets lost 4-3 at Crystal Palace on Saturday, after leading 2-0, and the side have now conceded 22 goals in the Championship so far this season – the worst record in the division.
Paradoxically, they are also the top scorers with 21 - boasting the highest scorer in the country in 15-goal Charlie Austin.
Shackell was back from a knee injury at Selhurst Park, but couldn’t help stop the rot at the back, and he knows there is a lot of hard work necessary in the international break before the visit of free-scoring Blackpool a week on Saturday.
He said: “It’s hard to put your finger on it.
“Individually we need to be better, as a team we need to work harder.
“We need to want to do the dirty side of the game better.
“We need to defend first and score second. That’s something we have to work on this week.
“We need to grow up and we need to grow up quickly.
“The manager’s not happy, and rightly so. We’re letting him down at the minute. We all need to step up and take responsibility and make sure we put it right.
“We need to start keeping clean sheets and start being more solid and make teams work harder for their goals.
“We know we’ve got goals in our locker, but we shouldn’t be putting the onus on the lads up front to score four to get anything.
“We should be scoring one and two and looking to take wins out of the game. At the minute we are asking too much of the lads going forward and that needs to change.
“We need to tighten up and we will be fine.”
Burnley simply collapsed at Palace in the second half, after taking a 2-1 lead into the break, and Shackell added: “We’ve ended up coming away empty handed and it’s not good enough.
“We felt confident and comfortable (at 2-0) but we seem to concede one at the minute and then the floodgates open.
“We need to do something about that, and that will start this week on the training pitch.
“We looked comfortable as anything, but one chance and it will go in the back of the net, and that’s not good enough.
“That’s something we’ll be working on.”
Burnley have now lost 13 points from winning positions, which if they had held onto those leads, would have placed them two points clear at the top.
Conversely, they have also won seven from losing positions, but it is the former statistic that concerns Shackell: “That’s the massively frustrating thing. We can’t keep making excuses, ifs and buts. We need to change it as soon as possible.
“It’s hard to put your finger on it.
“We all need to step up and take more responsibility as individuals and as a team.
“We need to put some serious hard work in on the training pitch and take that into games.
“It’s frustrating for me but every one of the lads is hurting because everybody does give their all.
“Whether it’s tactically or individual errors, we all need to be better. We need to step up.
“It’s not through the want of trying.
“I’m sure we will be out there this week and looking to put it right.”
A televised derby is a terrific fixture to look forward to, but Shackell is only focussing on putting things right at Gawthorpe: “It’s a great game for us. But we need to take every day as it comes and get the defending right because we know the lads will score at the other end.”