Everton 3, Burnley 1 - Chris Boden's thoughts as the Clarets' strong jaw is rocked again

Burnley have become renowned for their strong jaw over Sean Dyche’s reign.

Tuesday, 14th September 2021, 9:47 am
Updated Tuesday, 14th September 2021, 9:48 am
Ben Mee celebrates his opening goal

The problem is, at the moment they’re not Marvelous Marvin Hagler, they’re more Amir Khan.

Ian Holloway first hailed the Clarets for their resilience in Dyche’s first promotion season, and they have retained that ability to soak up pressure, to stay in games, and, often, reply with a knockout blow of their own.

Whether Burnley have been good, bad or indifferent over 90 minutes, you simply have to put them away, or they will keep stepping onto you, refusing to go down.

And if they got their noses in front, that spelt trouble for opponents, as they were so good at killing a fight and holding onto a lead.

However, since taking a 2-0 lead at Southampton on Easter Sunday, in a game the Clarets went on to lose 3-2, they have failed to win six of the last eight games in which they have gone in front, losing five.

A lead was squandered at home to Newcastle United, and then West Ham, and although Wolves and Fulham were beaten to secure safety, at the start of this season, we have already seen Brighton come from behind to win at Turf Moor, Leeds rescue a point, and now Everton come back to claim the three points at Goodison Park.

At St Mary’s, Burnley’s two-goal advantage lasted three minutes, before Southampton netted twice in 11 minutes, and grabbed a second half winner.

Against Newcastle, the visitors scored twice in five minutes to turn the game around, while Michail Antonio’s double for West Ham at Turf Moor, with the Hammers trailing, came in the space of eight minutes.

Brighton overturned a 1-0 deficit on the opening day with two goals in five minutes, and Everton’s three-goal response to going behind came in six minutes.

Last season, only seven sides dropped more points from winning positions, and so far this season, eight have gone begging in four games.

And if Burnley lose their defensive solidity, that is a major concern, as they aren’t going to become a prolific outfit any time soon, with a number of good chances again squandered at Everton before skipper Ben Mee showed how it is done, heading in Johann Berg Gudmundsson’s cross on his 200th Premier League appearance.

I asked Dyche about any concerns over that strong jaw after the game, and he said: jaw

“No, not really, we’ve had spells at the beginning of last season when it was like that, performances are actually considerably better than the beginning of last season, I think.

“It can come in fits and starts, at the beginning of last season, everyone was saying our strikers weren’t scoring, and I said they would do, and they did do.

“There’s always a view of it, and I have to have mine, I’m well aware of the things we need to improve on, and game management has improved considerably over my time here, but tonight we fell foul of that.”

There are a few spells that need arresting, if Burnley are to avoid another tough battle for survival, with their home record another area of concern, having gone since January without a victory at Turf Moor, a run of 13 games in all competitions.

Yes, the side are performing better than they did at this stage last season, but that was a team missing key figures - James Tarkowski initially, Mee for longer, Matt Lowton, Jack Cork, Gudmundsson, Ashley Barnes.

The concern is that the squad is currently fully fit, bar Kevin Long, Dale Stephens and new arrival Connor Roberts, and last season’s haul of two points from the opening seven games, which, as Dyche said, “that doesn’t always end well.”

Back in the summer, I wrote about the similarities between Dyche and Gareth Southgate, in term of the mentality they have instilled with their sides, as Southgate said ahead of the 2-0 win over Germany: “I can’t win this game, it will be the players that win it.

“The opportunity is theirs.

“What happened to me has helped in so many different areas of my life, but it’s of no importance to this group of players.

“There are always records in the Premier League of teams who haven’t won at certain grounds for 30 years, but at some point that record gets broken.

“All those barriers are there to be knocked down in life and that’s the mentality we have to have.”

And England, as Burnley have done, knocked down barriers, only to unfortunately fall at the last.

But, however, there appear more similarities between Dyche and Southgate - being more reactive than proactive to opposing managers' tweaks in tactics, systems and personnel, a more functional brand of football, and, that ability to hold onto a lead, which has seen England pegged back in key games over the last three years by Colombia, Croatia, Italy, even Poland last week.

Where many would like to see Southgate take the handbrake off his exciting young side, will Dyche move away from the tried and tested, which isn't getting results of late?

Barnes is a Burnley legend, a player whose feats in Claret and Blue far outweigh what most thought he would achieve, but while his partnership with Chris Wood has been effective, the Clarets need more mobility, something Matej Vydra or Jay Rodriguez could provide.

Or maybe Dwight McNeil could be freed up to play off the front, with Maxwel Cornet introduced in the wide areas.

Burnley, at least, have a deeper squad with better options than of late, and hopefully that will show over the season.