Burnley 0, Norwich City 0: Chris Boden’s thoughts on a hugely frustrating afternoon at Turf Moor

Sean Dyche, after his 400th game in charge, again referenced that all he ever promised upon his arrival at the club was “sweat on the shirt.”

Sunday, 3rd October 2021, 9:06 am
Updated Sunday, 3rd October 2021, 9:08 am

One of his early go-to phrases was that "the minimum requirement is maximum effort."

And those Claret and Blue shirts have always been a darker shade come full time, as he has delivered that and so much more over a remarkable tenure at Turf Moor.

But he found that wasn't necessarily sufficient in 2014/15, when a lack of quality ultimately cost Burnley their Premier League status.

And we find ourselves in a similar quandary in 2021/22.

There is no doubting the many attributes of his current group, who have never let Dyche or the fans down, indeed, several of whom contributed greatly to two top-10 finishes, and a return to continental football people felt would never happen.

The summer transfer window was a big step forward, but, however, having tread water in the market since qualifying for Europe, has the rest of the league now left Burnley behind?

As Dyche said at the end of last season, having secured safety, "two points from seven games doesn't always end well."

Neither does three from seven - with the next assignment at Manchester City not offering much in the way of respite.

You couldn't fault the effort of his players against a Norwich side who had lost their first six games of the season, and last nine of 2019/20 as they were relegated.

Yet the paucity of quality on display was tangible.

For all the Clarets dominated territory and, rarely, possession, this was Burnley huffing and puffing for a way through.

Perspiration on the shirt is a bare minimum, but what happens when there is no inspiration?

So often under Dyche's reign, his players have found a way to win when not at their best, and, worrying, so far this term, they have failed to turn decent performances into wins.

He often talks of getting the right side of the margins, and that there has to be a future in performances, and there is much to be said for that.

But having gone into the game having had opportunities so far this season - ninth in terms of big chances created, and fifth in big chances missed - a lack of goals in open play remains a big worry.

Burnley put over 47 crosses against the Canaries, which took them top of that Premier League table with 194, 18 clear of Liverpool and 28 ahead of Manchester City before their meeting on Sunday.

However, they were meat and drink to Grant Hanley, Ben Gibson on his first return to Turf Moor, and Ozan Kabak.

And the Clarets stay on one goal aside from set pieces, Maxwel Cornet's stunning volley at Leicester last week.

Burnley sadly missed his spark, and didn't look as much of a threat once Matej Vydra was forced off, having been caught in the head by an attempted punch clear from Tim Krul - surely a penalty? - landing on his back and aggravating a niggle that forced him off at the King Power Stadium.

He was winded and struggled for breath before being replaced, having also twice been brought down by Hanley, one inside and one just outside the area, although the earlier incident would have been a soft decision.

Burnley did what Burnley do, they got the ball forward early and often, and got it in the box, but they didn't look like scoring on the day.

Krul wasn't really forced into a save of note, other than to turn away Dwight McNeil's 20-yarder shortly after the restart, while, although Norwich's breaks were sporadic, Nick Pope made the save of the day, getting across to his right to produce a superb stop from a Mathias Normann free kick, with the Norwegian also hitting the top of the bar with a cross-shot that swerved wickedly.

The Clarets again built up a head of steam at numerous points in the game, but found a golden chance elusive.

Despite that, they had encouragement throughout from a home crowd who put their anxieties and frustrations to one side to roar their side on, as Burnley's run without a Premier League home win extended to 14 games, all the way back to January.

Indeed, Clarets fans haven't been in Turf Moor to witness a victory in the league since a 3-0 success against Bournemouth in February 2020 - which also saw another of those rarities, a penalty awarded in Burnley's favour.

So a number of statistics are beginning to pile up against the Clarets, and it is one of those moments where you can choose to trust in Dyche and his players, who have earned that in spades over time, or not.

He has long held the belief that "calm seas don't make good sailors - anyone can take the wheel of a ship in calm water but it's not so easy when it gets rough, and we've guided the ship through some rough seas."

This is another rough patch, but he believes in the work put in on the training ground, as he said to me after the game: "Stats and facts and all that, the last one doesn't guarantee the next one, I'm well aware of that, we've shown over many years we can be productive, and I believe we will be again, and we will find ways to score goals.

"We have four very good strikers in my opinion and we will find goals.

"We had a slow start last season and then picked up quite strongly, and it's important we do that again.

"But the belief in the way the players are playing is there, I think they showed that again, but we have to find that cutting edge quite obviously."

The sooner, the better...