TALKING TACTICS: McInnes has galvanised Bristol City

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SCOUT Phil Smith warns of a revitalised Bristol City ahead of the game at Ashton Gate tomorrow.

As the international break approaches, Burnley languish in 17th place. Sitting six points off the play-offs in November was certainly not on the agenda when the “We can be heroes” campaign was launched.

The penalty conceded by Andre Amougou on Tuesday night was fortunate, and an error of judgement by Geoff Eltringham in my opinion. However, the debate surrounding the incident cannot disguise the harsh reality that Leicester City ran out deserved winners.

Kieran Trippier was exposed, and clearly targeted, by our opponents on Tuesday night. Two direct assists thus far emphasise the threat posed going forward. However, our system offers him no protection whatsoever defensively. If Eddie Howe neglects to address this issue then the scenario will continue throughout the duration of the season.

Chris McCann has not performed to his usual high standards of late. The 4-4-2 system is evidently disrupting his natural game. He appears to be in a withdrawn role. Where is his license to drive forward with the ball? His entire game is based upon drive, energy, tackling ability and passion. He cannot do that from his present position.

Successful managers hold a ruthless streak. Certain players have been below the expected standard this season yet remain in the team. Why?

Fear of being replaced can spur the professional on to reach the height of their ability. A poor performance must be met with the threat of being withdrawn from the side. This is not the case at present.

Until recently I would have classed our fixture against Bristol City tomorrow as a definite three points. However, Derek McInnes has galvanised the men from Ashton Gate. Four points from recent trips to Oakwell and the Boleyn Ground emphasise the improvement made under the former St Johnstone manager.

“It’s not just a focus on being happy after claiming three points, he wants to tighten things up and improve overall,” revealed veteran stopper David James when discussing life under the new gaffer.

That is precisely the attitude which a manager should look to adopt. Improvements can always be made, regardless of any given result.

I fully expect the Robins to utilise a 4-5-1 system. Nicky Maynard will lead the line.

Expect them to withdraw into their own half.

They will look to soak up pressure from ourselves and then profit from an explosive counter attack.

Ghanaian international Albert Adomah will form the basis of their attacking transition.

Raw pace will be evident in abundance and thus a high defensive line will be severely punished.

The style is heavily dependent on Maynard being supported by Adomah and Marvin Elliott.

Both will look to take on Trippier and Mee, draw Amougou and Edgar out of position and put the ball on a plate for Maynard to tuck away a straightforward opportunity (see diagram).

Zonal defence must be adopted this weekend. To compensate for the pace disadvantage, the defence and midfield must be given a space to mark when the opposition are in possession.

A victory, coupled with favourable results elsewhere, could see us enter the break three points off the play-offs.

What a boost that would be as we prepare for our crunch match against Yorkshire rivals Leeds United at Turf Moor in a fortnight!