Eddie Howe celebrated a year in charge of Burnley with the superb victory at (then) third placed Middlesbrough, inflicting only their second home league defeat of the season, writes Chris Ellison.
The dominant performance however was equally as pleasing as the three points as Burnley totally dominated, especially in the at times embarrassingly one sided first half.This latest victory on the road was, amazingly, Howe’s 12th away win out of the 25 away league games he has been in charge of since his appointment on 16th January 2011. Crude I know, but if you allow me to add his 2010/11 fixtures to those so far in 2011/12, Howe has been in charge of 47 league games (1 more than a full season) and 25 away games (2 more than a full season). It really is a great time to follow the Clarets away from home!
I have been fortunate enough to be a regular attendee at away games since the early 90s and I’m sure many seasoned Burnley fans will agree with me – Burnley just don’t win that many away games per ‘season’. You have to go back to the 2001/02 season when Burnley threatened to take the Championship by storm by winning ten away games, only to eventually miss out on a play-off place, to see a number of victories that comes close to Howe’s performance. Burnley won less still in the 1993/94, 1999/2000 and 2008/09 promotion seasons, such is our usual dominance at ‘Fortress Turf’.
So what is Howe’s secret? Well first, I have included a crude statistic and he has had two more away games than a regular season, but it’s still impressive. My personal opinion is that we are set up in such a way that makes us a better away team; I think we struggle at times to impose ourselves on games at Turf Moor. We have a forward line which has the classic ability to hit teams on the break and when we put the opposition under pressure and really go full throttle, like the first half at Middlesbrough, we look an absolute force.
We have a state where almost all of our forward players are comfortable switching from left to right to playing down the middle and it means we are so flexible and at times difficult to second guess.
Now for some highlights out of the 12 away victories:
- 2010/11 Portsmouth – This was Howe’s second away game and his first away victory. Burnley took the game to Portsmouth from the off, one and two touch passing in neat triangles, switching the play and getting the ball wide at every opportunity. The winning goal was an absolute peach, some would say a collector’s item too, as a Dean Marney overhead kick flew in to the net in front of the travelling fans
- 2010/11 PNE – We all remember this one surely as Burnley got back to winning ways at Deepdale. Thousands of Burnley fans were packed in to the Bill Shankly Kop as a flowing move was started and finished by the energetic Jack Cork, running about 40 yards from his initial pass to head home the winner…the Burnley end in the last ten minutes or so was bouncing, back to the great King Arthur Sunday afternoon days!
- 2010/11 Derby – We had lost our previous three away games with poor performances, especially the 4-0 reverse at Leicester where we were torn apart, however we got back to winning ways at a relatively happy hunting ground for us. There was a buzz in the Burnley end as Chris McCann was a surprise inclusion on the team sheet following months out with injury and McCann added the icing on a very sweet tasting cake as he scored a superb fourth goal as Burnley ran out 4-2 victors
- 2011/12 Millwall – In blistering heat Burnley produced a superb second half defensive display to record our first clean sheet in 24 games. Burnley scored towards the end of the first half via our thoroughly effective corner routine and the whole team, not least Lee Grant and the defence, handled everything that Millwall threw at them in the second half as the fans came away celebrating and feeling like we had finally turned a corner defensively
- 2011/12 Hull – In a crazy final 13 minutes Burnley dragged themselves from the prospect of being in the relegation places at the final whistle to obtaining a confidence boosting win that has kick started our 2011/12 season. I wasn’t actually at this game but listened to it on Radio Lancashire and it sounded like Burnley had turned in an absolutely turgid display heading in to the final 13 minutes of the game 2-0 down. We all know the rest, it’s the stuff of dreams, as David Edgar popped up with two goals in three minutes to give the Clarets what looked like being an unlikely point…only for Jay Rodriguez to get an early shot away from the edge of the area deep in to injury time to send my living room into raptures!
- 2011/12 West Ham – Howe called this his best result as Burnley manager, some may call it a smash and grab, but it was a thoroughly solid performance. We didn’t have many opportunities and they missed a couple of glaring chances but when you come from a goal down at the Boleyn Ground against a very good West Ham side you take it. Both Burnley goals were superb too, great crosses and bullet headers
- 2011/12 Middlesbrough – For me this was Burnley’s performance of the season so far, if not the best performance under Howe. Cliché warning but we really did take the game by the scruff of the neck from kick off, put Middlesbrough on the back foot, dictated the tempo and had innumerate chances. We took the lead through our routine corner and doubled our advantage via a Kieran Trippier thunderbolt. We then showed a different side to our play in the second half as we were far less gung-ho, defended stoutly and protected the lead. The atmosphere and smiles on the faces of the Burnley fans said it all.
Like I said at the start of this piece, it really is a superb time to be following the Clarets away from home as we are turning in some fantastic displays of football at times. All that remains is for this away form to continue, we can cope with a few defeats along the way but it would be great to kick on at Turf Moor, make it a fortress again and really take this division by storm!
Up the Clarets!