Cornet gives Dyche options - at last

Plus: a rant about drunk football fans on trains

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Cornet gives Dyche options - at last

Sunday’s game got us off the mark with 1-1 probably just about fair on balance, even though we perhaps shaded it, but there’s no doubting the big story of the week.

Burnley have made their most exciting new signing since… dunno… Ian Wright?!

I’ll hold my hands up: I really didn’t think we would get Maxwel Cornet. It never seemed realistic. But fair play to chairman Alan Pace and whoever is on recruitment given Mike Rigg has had the summer off - it looks like he will be a great addition.

Like I imagine is true for a lot of you, I can’t claim to watch a lot of Ligue 1 - please write in if you have seen a lot of him - but everything I hear and read about Cornet is positive. He should improve the first XI and it is some time since we brought someone in who actually did that, rather than just coming as cover, challenging for places, or like Nathan Collins, future-proofing the squad for a star player’s later departure.

Cornet’s versatility is a huge plus point for Sean Dyche, who like usual had very few appealing game-changers on the bench against Leeds on Sunday. While he has been described by various outlets as a “left-back”, he had only been playing there for Lyon due to injuries. I’m not Charlie Taylor’s biggest fan (though I reckon his costly slip for Leeds’ leveller was just bad luck rather than poor play) but his place in the side is likely safe. Really, Cornet is a fast, attacking winger - he scores about five league goals a season - and that is probably where he will play most of his games for the Clarets.

On which wing remains to be seen. Cornet is right-footed and Burnley’s left winger is our best player, so you would assume it is Johann Gudmundsson whose place is most at risk. We all know about JBG’s injury issues but when he is fit and can put a run of games together, he is a huge asset to the team. Nevertheless, Cornet for Gudmundsson is on paper an upgrade and it would give us a strong wide option on the bench as well. Inverted wingers pose a threat with inswinging crosses, so Dwight McNeil and Cornet could swap wings during a game to ask the opposing full-backs different questions.

Cornet will probably start out as a substitute anyway, given he has to get “Dyche fit”. He is not joining the squad until after he has been on duty with Ivory Coast over the international break either. It would be a big surprise if he started against Everton.

Burnley are fairly wedded to the 4-4-2 but have previously had some joy in the Premier League with a five-man midfield, especially when the outstanding-when-fit Steven Defour’s knees had not fallen off. Obviously, you need at least three available central midfielders to do that, which Burnley haven’t always had for long periods in recent seasons. But even with Dale Stephens - remember him? - sidelined, Josh Brownhill, Jack Cork and Ashley Westwood is a very solid-looking trio for tricky away games.

More exciting would be freeing up McNeil. Cornet on one wing and Gudmundsson on the other with McNeil as a no10 behind Chris Wood. I’d like to see that at some point. McNeil looks increasingly dangerous when he comes inside. The goal against Leeds came (eventually) from a corner he won with a shot that deflected just wide. McNeil needs to score more goals and playing him more centrally would improve that. You might lose some of his crossing ability, but he would still have freedom to drift into the channels and whip in those trademark centres for Wood to attack. But when McNeil does stay wide, Burnley’s attack is often predictable, which Cornet should help with.

With Aaron Lennon’s expected return also having been completed - the veteran will be a handy impact sub if nothing more - Burnley’s wide options now look better than they have for perhaps any other time in the Dyche era. It is a shame the links with Will Hughes came to nothing with Crystal Palace instead buying the midfielder, but Pace and the board deserve a lot of credit for delivering the much-needed Cornet for Dyche.

I’m changing my mind about Barnes

I was going to write about Ashley Barnes this week, but I posted some tweets yesterday about him instead. Sorry for the potty-mouth:

Having seen Barnes’ wild challenge on Stuart Dallas back, though, I might change my mind again… he really was fortunate to only get a yellow for that one. There was a clear Wood offside just before it, mind, so the game should have been stopped anyway.

Football fans on trains: a quick rant

I live in Leeds and I can’t drive, so even home games for me often involve sharing public transport with opposition fans who are also making their way to the Turf.

For the most part, supporters travel in good humour, but there are obvious exceptions. I don’t begrudge people wanting to have a good time after a pretty miserable 18 months or so, but too many football fans seem to think a train can be turned into their personal mobile nightclub with no regard whatsoever for any of the other passengers.

Drinking culture in this country is out of control. I like a drink as much as anyone, but is there any need to be downing straight vodka, on a one-hour train ride, before noon? I’m 6ft tall (and about as wide) and I can feel intimidated and anxious on trains when surrounded by loud, drunk gangs of men - and it is almost always all men - so I can’t imagine what it’s like for others who might not have realised they’d be sharing the trip with boozed-up coked-up epic lads who are singing, shouting, swearing and so on.

I’m not necessarily saying fans drinking on trains should be banned, though alcohol isn’t permitted on the Tube in That London, so I don’t see what the difference is there. I sat on a table on the train to Burnley from Leeds with three older blokes who shared four cans of cider and they posed nobody any problems whatsoever.

But I have a lot of sympathy with the exasperated woman who chided rowdy returning Leeds fans by bursting out: “This is not a pub!” And neither are the trees just down from Burnley Manchester Road station a public urinal, while I’m on my soapbox…

Opposition view: Leeds United and Newcastle United

Thanks to Jon from Leeds media channel All Stats Aren’t We:

And to Newcastle fan Matt Briggs:

There was never any danger of this being a classic given the cup records of both sides. Steve Bruce’s team selection and Dyche’s tactics suggested that neither was too bothered about making it to the next round. It was a glorified exhibition match played out by two teams who spent 90 minutes thinking about their Premier League status. The major bright spot? At least we weren’t subjected to extra time.

Newcastle just about shaded a scrappy affair, however we can have no complaints about the final result after only cultivating a handful of chances. Ex-Claret Jeff Hendrick had one of his best matches in a Newcastle shirt, which is not the high praise it may appear. What other little credit there is on offer should go to Dwight Gayle, who at least troubled the woodwork, and forgotten man Javier Manquillo, who turned in his now customary seven out of ten performance.

The result means we’re yet to register a win this season. With no new additions on the horizon, another long year battling at the foot of the Premier League beckons. We’ll see you down there.

Excited to see how we manage to lose at home to League Two side Rochdale…

On this week's podcasts

The main show will be out a bit later in the week in the usual places. George is going to be chatting to Michael Hodkinson, the author of a new book, No Nay Never, which is all about the Burnley-Blackburn rivalry, so make sure you listen out for that.

We also realise we were a week too early with the quiz questions, so we’re rethinking the timing/scheduling of them, but don’t worry they will be back in this spot very soon.

Birthdays and anniversaries

Richard Duffy, who scored a famous winner in 2004 at Elland Road, is 36 today. Apparently, he’s in charge of Congleton Town now. Every day is a school day.

#OnThisDay in 2018, Burnley’s European adventure came to an end with a 1-1 draw at home to Olympiakos, the damage having been done in the first leg in Greece.

Dwight McNeil was unbelievable on his first senior start, but it wasn’t to be.

Fantasy football

Still a little bit of time to join the NNN league - here's the league code: 7ixae7.

Heading into the international break, our leader is Andrew Smith on 273 points.

Tweet of the Week

Not sure a player has ever won this before… a historic moment right here:

Recommended reading etc

The Athletic took a look (subscription required) at what Cornet will offer Burnley. TL;DR: that he’s played at LB will help him adapt to Dyche’s defensive demands.

This i article about what the EFL Cup is for has some interesting ideas without putting forward a compelling solution or alternative way to run the competition.

In Scotland, their version of the League Cup starts with a regionalised group stage which is almost a competitive pre-season. Would that work below the border?


Thanks to Mark G, who wrote in about last week’s newsletter about McNeil:

I know what you're saying about McNeil he is outgrowing us but I'm hoping he's got at least 1 or 2 more seasons with him as he's still learning his craft and guaranteed first team football. If he moved he could be back up.

That’s a really fair point - lots of talented players have seen their development stifled by making the wrong move. McNeil seems to have his head screwed on right and by all accounts is a very grounded and level-headed young man, though, so fingers crossed.

We were talking about this before Cornet signed. I suppose there’s a chance we have it in mind that McNeil could move on next summer, with Cornet then playing on the left.

It’s deadline day tomorrow, so what do you make of our summer window overall? Comment below with your views, or you can tweet me @jamiesmithsport.

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Thought of the day

Cornet should wear number 99 to extend the ice cream banter really.