As 40th birthday performances go this was like hoping for a helicopter trip and a champagne meal at the Ivy but instead getting a burp and ‘sorry darling, I forgot, but I’ve saved you half of my KFC bucket’. A performance devoid of anything to celebrate bar a scuffed consolation, a shocker from start to finish.
As is the same with any run of winnable games the team sheet was printed for this on back in October and at least Eddie didn’t have to tippex out Francis tonight as the returning skipper was able to slot in at his least effective position and complete the ‘how many league one players can I get on the pitch’ while England players Defoe and Cook watched from the bench.
The game started as it was to continue for the next 75 minutes with Burnley in complete control. Four corners in the first ten minutes culminating with Woods hitting the cross-bar completely unmarked from Ben Mees unmarked knock back. School boy stuff – as it was anytime the ball went to Woods who looked like Cantona at his best such was the ineptitude of our defending (Ake aside).
Wave after wave of Burnley attacks was set up by midfielders, unfortunately…………it was our midfielders. The centre quartet took their own recent poor standards and managed amazingly to hit new lows. We were second to every ball, weak in the tackle – Surman especially so. On the rare occasions when we did get the ball we stopped and looked for Ake who is fast becoming the deepest playmaker in Premier League history. It was dire.
Burnley ploughed on though with application, effort and shape and Begovic did well to deny Wood at full stretch after Ibe had stopped tracking and allowed a cross from Brady. Two minutes later and….Ibe ignored another run, Brady skipped past Francis as if he was stunned and centered for an unmarked WOOD to slide home.
Bournemouth were struggling to get the ball forwards and when they did Wilson was very poor at holding it up. Another error from Cook saw Hendrick in but the Bournemouth defender made a great sliding tackle to keep his team in the game before half time.
HT Bournemouth 0 Burnley 1
Half time came and as per usual, no plan B, no tactical change or subsitutions. More of the same crapness beckoned and happened as a result. The midfield got worse – the referees two stumbling interventions gave him the most successful pass ratio by anyone not wearing a white shirt in this spell. Ibe’s uselessness has to be witnessed to be believed and is the worst use of £12m since those Americans thought they had bought the Eiffel tower – although at least they got a good story out of it.
Anyway – one Arter misplaced pass too many saw the arrival of Lewis Cook who set about running the game just like he has in every other game he has played bar the first half v Chelsea. Keep playing like this and Eddie might even consider him to start……………in the Carabao cup.
It was starting to look good – in a disjointed let’s have a go way. Still all the forwards were stood facing backwards but the crowd had woken up. All it needed now was a bit of concentration…..then Ibe stepped in, ran backwards and needlessly passed the ball to Burnley for the eighth time in a row and they broke for BRADY to skip past two weak challenges and curl past Begovic from the edge of the box.
On came Defoe and Fraser for Ibe and Pugh but that just added to the amount of people stood with their hand in the air up front – poor, poor tactics as their was nobody in any numbers to get the ball to them. Their was a consolation though when Defoes cross shot was turned in at the far post by KING but nothing else followed other than huff and puff and a Burnley masterclass in time wasting.
FT Bournemouth 1 Burnley 2
Begovic 6 – Good save from Wood and safe handling.
Francis 4 – Just not a right back anymore.
Cook 5 – Dominated by Wood in air and on ground.
Ake 6 – Pick of starters – solidish and good playing out.
Daniels 5 – Looked tired – didn’t get forwards.
Ibe 3 – Words fail me for once.
Arter 3 – Lost
Surman 3 – I’d take Vice C off him for bottling two tackles.
Pugh 4 – Couple of nice tricks.
Wilson 4 – Missing all the basics of hold up play and well tracked.
King 4 – Looking lost deep.
(Subs Cook 7 – an oasis in a sea of crap, Defoe 5, Fraser 5)
A very poor display. I lie the blame firmly at Eddies door – he is being found out at this level and he needs to change. A couple of referee/lino assisted wins and draws against poor sides don’t paper over the cracks. We haven’t played well for 90 mins all season with maybe the exception of Man City. We didn’t play 4-4-2 in that game – penny dropping anyone?
Burnley and Watford are similar clubs to us, came up, rode the storm use the money wisely and push on. We have gone backwards and you know my view on how we have largely squandered our cash – a couple of nuggets aside.
One of those nuggets is Lewis Cook but the stubbornness surrounding him has gone beyond intriguing and is now frankly – rank poor management. That’s the first big problem – Eddie can’t fashion a side beyond his championship side. Over £100m spent and we start with a midfield of Pugh, Arter, Surman and Ibe – the latter playing I can only assume to try and hide embarrassment over how much we were conned into paying for him.
The second problem is also worryingly alarming. Having a spread apart four man midfield in this league means, unless you are playing the bottom four, you will get taken apart. The game has moved on. King and Wilson, King and Defoe, Afobe and King – it doesn’t matter – they just spend time marooned up the pitch staring back at the game like me and you. The wingers have to drift in to cover the gaps and all the pace has gone. The fullbacks used to overlap to counter this but that’s stopped this season and we play insipid square passes recycling possession endlessly like the pre-match warm ups with no goals.
Last year – we took Swansea and Burnley apart (just for you Druss) with Wilshere starring in the first and Cook in the second. Tells you everything you need to know.
We haven’t moved on, we haven’t added the right players, we haven’t fielded the right team all season and we are dull to watch. That gives Eddie a lot of food for thought. He normally finds a way – I hope he does but I am more worried than before because he seems locked into a safety mode that is just not him or us. Southampton are rallying at the wrong time performance wise – we are owed a big performance Sunday. The problem is we have to go back to last season for one of those.