Burnley press rewind instead of restart - analysis of Wolves 1, Burnley 0
Sean Dyche was hoping to hit the restart button on Burnley's season after the international break, to come back refreshed.
But, instead, it was more a case of pressing pause – or even rewind at times – as his side looked as far away as ever from what we know they are capable of.
He feels his players are in something of “a fog”.
And unfortunately it looks to be a real pea-souper
We know all about Burnley’s resources compared to the rest of the Premier League – laid bare by Championship winners Wolves’ wealth of quality – but Burnley under Dyche have been a team unit, far more than the sum of their parts.
They excelled in the basics – discipline, organisation, desire and will toi win.
When they are struggling with those, we know something is wrong.
The transfer window is closed, there is nothing anyone can do about that until January.
The continued absence of Steven Defour and Robbie Brady has also been a big blow – although there are encouraging signs on that front.
However, this group of players are currently performing well below par.
Gone is the tempo we have been used to, pressing in packs, blocking passing lanes.
They look lethargic, ponderous in possession, gifting the ball cheaply, and offering next to nothing going forward.
Dyche wants his side to be able to hurt teams as many ways as possible, but they currently look incapable of making their opponents even break sweat at the back, with David De Gea and Rui Patricio mere spectators in the last two games in particular.
Defensively, we are used to Burnley allowing shots on their goal, but the amount – and quality – of chances they are conceding is alarming.
And that ‘never say die’ spirit looks to have dissipated somewhat.
Does the problem go back beyond the Europa League extertions, the disappointing transfer window, the injuries to key players?
Certainly, the statistic of five wins in the last 26 Premier League outings is alarming – even taking into context the lack of wins in the final five games of last term when they had all but assured European football.
Burnley are without a win in 90 minutes in 16 games, with victories over Aberdeen and Istanbul Basaksehir requiring extra time – though those ties were all about finding a way to progress.
The goals against column just doesn’t look like Burnley – 10 conceded in five league games, having taken 13 for them to ship as many last year.
And they are currently nowhere near as hard to beat as we have become accustomed to.
Four defeats, on the spin – it was early December when Burnley suffered their fourth defeat last season.
And it doesn’t get any easier.
Bournemouth are the visitors to Turf Moor on Saturday, having made a flying start to the season.
Fortress Turf Moor has only seen two wins in the last 12 league games, going back to December.
But Eddie Howe’s men show there is no need to panic at this stage of the season.
The Cherries lost their first four games last season, and seven of their first 10, and still finished 12th, with 44 points.
The unthinkable began to happen on the south coast, as sections of the support began to question Howe – as a minority on social media are with Dyche currently.
Howe rode out the storm, however, and you wouldn’t back against Dyche doing exactly the same.
Brady and Defour can’t come back quick enough, as Burnley look for that extra guile and craft, but the players, as Dyche has said, need to take on the responsibility of the extra expectation on their shoulders, and try and thrive on it, before a sticky start becomes a long, hard winter.