SCOUT Phil Smith looks ahead to the mouth-watering Leeds clash this weekend.
It has been mooted that the current Burnley squad are not of the required standard to achieve the aspirations laid down by our passionate supporters. I suggest that those who hold that rather negative viewpoint look no further than the little fixture which took place at Wembley on Saturday evening.
Spain, the greatest team on the planet bar Catalan giants Barcelona, were expected to simply turn up and steamroll our national side. Evidently this assumption was far from reality.
Granted, the game was far from a classic, and the proverbial bus sat parked in front of Joe Hart, but the history books will forever record an England victory.
Evidence, if needed, that reputation counts for absolutely nothing in the beautiful game of football. With adequate research and preparation, there can be no excuse offered for an underwhelming performance or season.
The time has come to emerge from the safety blanket of blaming the departure of players such as Chris Eagles and Danny Fox for our current predicament. In order to move forward one cannot live in the past. I will bang from the same drum until I am blue in the face – the present Burnley side are more than good enough to put us into the top six of this division.
What better forum to emphasise our promotion credentials than a televised fixture against rivals Leeds United at the home of football, Turf Moor?
In their previous fixture, against Leicester City, our opponents adopted a rigid 4-4-2 formation. Keogh and McCormack were selected to lead the attack. The introduction of Luciano Becchio leads to a change of system. The Argentine is instructed to hold the ball up and bring the wingers in to the game.
Eddie Howe should give serious consideration to utilising a 4-5-1 formation on Saturday. Burnley can experience success by directing their offensive transition down the right side of Leeds United. Paul Connolly had a poor game against Peterborough United recently and we must look to exploit any perceived weakness. Our visitors have shipped 25 goals thus far, and we must seek to profit from this defensive vulnerability.
A central trio of Dean Marney, Marvin Bartley and Chris McCann (pictured) should enable ball retention and, most importantly, allow ourselves to control the midfield.
Junior Stanislas and Ross Wallace must play high and wide, in order to block any advance from the opposition full back. They should sacrifice their attacking instinct for the benefit of the team.
The result? Brian Easton and Kieran Trippier will be able to provide additional defensive cover. Offensively they can act as an extra man in midfield, advance past the opposition full back and deliver the ball into the danger zone for the unmarked Jay Rodriguez to fire home past Alex McCarthy.
Our substitutions have been predictable of late, and that is a deep concern for myself. The impression given is that they are reactive instead of proactive and that is not a recipe for success. To lift this club to where it rightfully belongs the manager needs to influence the flow of the game, rather than react to it. Football is like a game of chess, and the ability to be two, three or even four moves ahead of your opponent is crucial.