Poor start, but too early to panic

StuBramley, Flickr StuBramley, Flickr
Jamie Smith September 2, 2012
Stock did not have a pre season, he isn't match ... 3 years ago

It’s far too early for calls for Eddie Howe’s sacking to be taken seriously, writes Jamie Smith.

Without a doubt, Burnley’s performances in the last three games have been far from good enough. Boro away was passable for half an hour and rank for an hour. Huddersfield was utterly rancid for the whole match and Brighton was little better. Losing three in a row is always cause for concern – Rovers threatened Kean with the sack before the season started if he achieved that – but it’s too early to panic.

The international break comes at a good time for the Clarets. After a barnstorming start and a 2-0 win at home to Bolton on the opening day, Burnley have been very flat. Tactics and team selections have been strange at times. Burnley don’t seem to want to play to our strengths. Howe will now have time to work with his players, with key man Brian Stock able to get his fitness levels up with a fortnight away from action. Only a few of the first team will be off to represent their countries, so there will be plenty of opportunity to work on the training ground.

It’s very, very early days. Cast your mind back a few years to the start of the promotion season. We didn’t exactly kick that one off well, yet look how it ended up. Four games out of 46 is nothing. Anything could happen yet.

While it’s understandable for fans who pay their £25 a week to be upset at performances like the last three, some perspective is required. We’re missing two of our most important attacking players in Danny Ings and Martin Paterson through injury. New skipper Jason Shackell is still settling in. We’re getting used to having to manage without the focal point of Jay Rodriguez. Cameron Stewart made his debut hours after signing and yet some are already writing him off.

Although football has moved on and boards are more impatient than ever, it used to be said that managers should get three years to put their stamp on a club. Eddie Howe has been at Turf Moor for less than two. While progress has been very slow, good work has been done off the pitch in that time. Financially, we should be in a good position, with spending well under what we’ve brought in through player sales in recent years, added to the cash made through promotion. Gawthorpe is unrecognisable from how it was a decade ago. We still have one of the most solid boards in football, despite Barry Kilby stepping down as chairman.

But improvements have to translate to on the pitch. The Championship is perhaps more competitive than ever and it will always be tricky for teams like ours to compete with big city sides like Nottingham Forest, Cardiff City and Leeds United. Blackburn Rovers spent £8 million on an unproven striker last week. Football is going slowly more insane and Turf Moor is a relative oasis of calm. This will surely start to pay off once the financial fair play rules kick in.

Comparisons to Brian Laws are a concern. While it’s true that Laws had us in the top half and flirting with the play-offs when he was sacked, expectations were different. He was shopping in a different aisle in the transfer market, allowed to bring in players like Lee Grant, Ross Wallace and Dean Marney on big money. Under Laws, top six was the minimum expectation. We’re still going for promotion now, but it’s more of an outside hope than a demand. There’s a general acceptance that under Owen Coyle, a lot of variables clicked at the right time to result in an outstanding season and it will be difficult to replicate that.

Personally, I much prefer watching Howe’s team to the one run by Laws. Even though the tempo can be too slow and the patterns of passing too predictable at times, I’d rather see us try and keep the ball than launch it forward at the first opportunity. As time passes and our squad gets uses to the style and players develop into it, we should improve.

Calling for Eddie Howe’s head four games into the new season is pretty silly. Let’s wait until Christmas and see where we are, but he has to get until the end of the season to see how much progress has been made. A top half finish is a must.

Are you concerned by our start to the season? Comment below.

  • Mike Mada

    Good call James. I’m horrified at the bizarre response on Twitter (aka ClaretsMad?). Some people have no sens of perspective.

    Eddie is still relatively inexperienced, his squad is still getting together and there’s a whole raft of idiots calling for the head of everyone from Eddie to Brendan to the chap who was a bit slow getting the chicken balti pie out of the oven!

    We have a fabulous squad; an energetic young manager and a board to be proud of. A few dodgy results do NOT make a season.

    What we need is support folks, so mature-up and get behind your team – and see you at Wembley in May!

    In Eddie we trust! UTC

    • Jamie Smith
      Jamie Smithin reply to Mike Mada


      I think a few people got a bit carried away yesterday. Sure we’ll be better after the break though, especially if Pato and Stock are fit.

  • jbclaret05

    I saw the whole game today on Clarets Player as i was gonna go yesterday and thankfully i didnt because from the word go we were dreadful Howe was clueless tacticly and We showed no passion no hunger and no desire. Brighton showed all those things and deserved to win. A word for Craig Mackail-Smith scored Two class goals, he be a Premier League player by January if he keeps that form up. I feel we should have done more Business on deadline day not too keen on Cameron Stewart but he can get better. I Think Howe is out of his depth at Championship level he has more than enough time now and im afraid he has taken us backwards We need experience in the team not a squad of Youngsters unless your Sir Alex. Howe to go and get him replaced by a more Experienced Manager like Phil Brown who can get teams into the Prem on a budget.

  • Chris Stanworth

    It’s not panic stations yet, but if we lose to Peterborough then it will start to become worrying. There are fewer sides that look capable of being relegated this year than last!

    I’ve seen Bolton, Boro and Brighton. We looked superb in the first game and a half and rank bad in the other game and a half, struggling to string even a few passes together for long periods. While it was a poor performance yesterday, it wasn’t quite as horrendous as people are making out – we very nearly got a point, as undeserved as it may have been . We do need to keep the ball much better – Brighton and Boro play a similar style and have looked much more accomplished in possession.

    • Chris Stanworthin reply to Chris Stanworth

      To add to that, while I’m firmly behind Eddie, he has made some very strange subs and tactical decisions – Bringing Ben Mee on at left back and pushing Mills higher, the continued absence of Stock when we’re crying out for more composure on the ball and better possession retention…

      • Jamie Smith
        Jamie Smithin reply to Chris Stanworth

        I kind of get the Mee sub to push Mills on – but then we have about seventeen wingers, so why not put one of them on instead of asking the full-back to play further up?

  • Chris

    Stock did not have a pre season, he isn’t match fit and the 2 week break will do him the world of good! All the warriors and footy manager experts on clarets mad need to realise, we are building a team, in a very strong league. We won’t win every game, nor will we play well every game!

    I agree Saturday was poor but give him the time to turn it around!


  • Comment