SCOUT Phil Smith concludes his three-part look at Burnley’s opponents Reading, who travel to Turf Moor tomorrow.
Part Three: If Burnley harbour genuine ambitions to dine from the top table of English football once more, then the brief is simple- win your home games.
Optimistic maybe, but during the week I spent a considerable amount of time formulating a blueprint for Championship success, based on the automatic promotion slots.
To cut a very long story short, an average of two points per game is the unquestionable marker for such a feat.
Managers are known for dissecting the season into chapters.
The three league fixtures before the trip to South Wales in the Carling Cup should be classed as an individual segment.
A home fixture tomorrow followed by trips to Barnsley and Coventry, are, with all due respect, not the most testing of challenges.
Football is not played on paper, but a glance at the fixture list for November emphasises the need to keep the winning momentum for the next seven days at least.
Ross Wallace can play a key role this weekend.
Success can be achieved by directing our attack down the visitors’ left side.
Double exposure in transition will be evident.
Inconsistency is the key word when describing Joseph Mills.
Question marks are evident with regards to his positioning and decision making.
As I mentioned on Friday, he will drift in centrally.
Wallace and Kieran Trippier should be able to double up on the wing.
Burnley may not get much change out of Shaun Cummings. The Chelsea academy product has been one of the key performers for the Berkshire outfit this season.
For me, he deserves to be classed as one of the best in this division.
Reading entrust Mills to provide from a set-piece. The left back has sizeable shoes to fill, considering his predecessor was Ian Harte. The former Republic of Ireland international was named in the 2010/2011 Championship team of the season.
Accuracy is somewhat sporadic. Certain deliveries can land on a fifty pence piece, while others provide more questions than answers.
Burnley will need to be alert to the threat of a short corner. This appears to be a preferred technique. The delayed delivery looks to take advantage of any decision to utilise the offside trap, (see diagram). Man marking must be evident for Adam Le Fondre. Nullify his movement and you nullify this particular routine.
I finish this week with a question posed to me by a reader, regarding the possibility of a 4-2-3-1 system. Evidently, this is the preferred formation of Barcelona and Spain – the two greatest teams on the planet!
The formation allows a team to control the game through possession, and wear opponents down until they commit a mistake. Defensively utilised, it allows for an explosive counter-attack, exploiting space behind the defensive line. Giants of world football excluded, it allows for so-called lesser teams to absorb pressure and maybe, just maybe, aid David against Goliath.
Preparation is the key. “Hoof it to the big man” is no longer an acceptable instruction for those wishing to be successful.