All around Burnley, the billboards say: ’Our Town, Our Turf, Our Time.’
The slogan is relayed with monotonous regularity across Turf Moor’s public
address system. On this evidence, it appears to be an accurate claim.
Nottingham Forest, previously unbeaten in 14 Championship
matches, were well and truly flattened by a Burnley side which secured
victory having accelerated into a three-goal lead within 35 minutes.
Burnley were just too determined, too confident and too organised for Forest,
who for the first half particularly could only perform like a group of hired
hands introduced to one another in the car park moments before kick-off.
Perhaps the unfamiliarity is a result of having a squad so large. Billy Davies
can field two competent teams in this league. Yet not for the first time
after a difficult afternoon, the Forest manager focused the post-match
inquest on his misfortune with injuries.
“Burnley got Forest in one of its weakest positions, that’s fact,” he said,
citing that the influential Andy Reid’s absence here was the result of a
strained calf muscle on Thursday while Radoslaw Majewski had to return to
Poland earlier in the week to deal with a family issue.
Davies was irritated with those that did play claiming his game plan was not
followed. “Unfortunately in the first 45 minutes, they didn’t listen.”
He admitted, though, that Burnley’s “aggressive” approach meant the visiting
team were never allowed to settle. Any strategy concocted by Davies would
have been suffocated facing opposition as intense as this.
Sean Dyche said he could not think of a better performance in his reign as
Burnley manager. “The way we work here on a daily basis, we don’t need to
flick a switch on the Saturday,” he explained. “If you’re at it constantly,
you enter a mode. The players are hungry every time the whistle blows.”
Dyche has one of the smallest budgets in the Championship. While Davies was
able to sign players last summer from clubs competing in the Champions
League, Burnley’s three new recruits arrived on free transfers,
individuals discarded by sides, which, like Forest, are now placed below
Goalkeeper Tom Heaton and midfielders David Jones and Scott Arfield have
helped Burnley to second in the table. Remarkably in the most frenetic of
competitions, Burnley have lost only three league games all season. If
promotion is sealed, Dyche’s achievement should surely be considered greater
than that of any other manager in the Football League.
A spate of injuries or suspensions might stop that happening. Narrow resources
means Dyche’s squad is thin. He would like more options. “We’re in regular
contact with other clubs,” he revealed in reference to the loan system.
Dyche has turned what might be perceived as a weakness into a strength.
There is an intimacy about Burnley’s play. Danny Ings aside, no member of this
team is superior to the sum of its parts. It was evident here in the way Sam
Vokes scored the first of his two goals. He knew Kieran Trippier, who the
striker believes is the best in his position outside the Premier League,
would find him with a laser-guided cross having warped from full-back to the
touchline to assist for the 13th time this season. Vokes just stood there
and headed it.
That was after Arfield had opened the scoring, a goal forced in by sheer will.
Later, Vokes added his 18th of the campaign.
Although Forest improved after the break and Djamel Abdoun scored a
consolation via a rebound from his own saved penalty kick, Davies’ claims
that something more may have been deserved were fanciful.
Two points now separate Burnley from third placed Derby County. The pair face
each other at Turf Moor next weekend before Burnley travel across the M65 to
face gravest rivals Blackburn Rovers.
“People talk about statements and we’ve made a few of them already,” Dyche
said. “For me, it’s just about winning games and being relentless with our
Burnley (4-4-2) Heaton; Trippier, Duff, Shackell, Mee; Arfield, Marney,
Jones, Kightly (Treacy 61); Vokes (Barnes 72), Ings.
Subs Cisak, Wallace, Stanislas, Edgar, Long.
Nottingham Forest (4-2-3-1) Darlow; Halford, Lascelles, Collins, Fox;
Moussi (Greening 75), Jara (Henderson 82); Mackie, Paterson, Abdoun;
Djebbour (Cox 75).
Subs De Vries, Lichaj, Harding, Derbyshire.
Booked Fox, Greening
Referee A D’Urso (Essex)
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