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What's the point?
Women poised for promotion push
After last night’s refereeing performance, I’m almost at a loss for words…
What's the point?
Very Angry Rage.
That’s how lots of us will be feeling today despite Burnley earning their first point of the Premier League season with a 1-1 draw away to Nottingham Forest yesterday.
Burnley were good value for the point despite making a sluggish start - and we should have won the game. Lyle Foster was robbed of a winner after VAR intervened.
We were lucky to enjoy a season with no VAR last season but we have already felt its impact on several occasions since promotion.
In isolation, each of the key calls made last night could be debated. But they all went against us. I don’t buy the ‘conspiracy’ claims but we were certainly unfortunate.
My problem with VAR is that the officials are using it to try to find reasons to rule out goals: VAR was supposed to correct obvious errors. The key thing for me about our ‘winning’ goal is not one Forest player appealed for handball at the time.
Perhaps the ball did brush Sander Berge’s upper arm, but replays are inconclusive. It certainly does not look deliberate, with Berge simply too powerful for his opponent.
VAR takes so much of fans’ fun and excitement out of the game - what’s the point?
Foster then allowed his frustration at having a perfectly good goal ruled out, his temper boiling over, lashing out and receiving an inevitable red card (after a VAR check, obviously). If the goal stands, as it should, Foster does not get sent off and we don’t have to cope without our most in-form player for the next three matches.
That ban will give Vincent Kompany a headache but there are plenty of positives to take. Zeki Amdouni scored his second fine finish of the season against Forest. Luca Koleosho was unplayable in the first half, winning his individual battle with right-back Gonzalo Montiel so conclusively that the World Cup winner was substituted.
Bringing Josh Brownhill and Charlie Taylor into the XI made us look more solid. Our tactics will have to adapt to Taylor’s strengths and weaknesses but having an actual left-back on the pitch rather than someone filling in made a big difference.
We were still a bit erratic at the back. Forest caused a lot of problems on the counter with their pace and the way we continue to defend set pieces is asking for trouble.
Although replacing Foster will not be easy, upcoming fixtures give us a chance to build some momentum. It is a good time to play Manchester United, Newcastle United have not got going and have their eye on Champions League games, and Chelsea are yet to click. The rearranged trip to Luton Town already looks massive
Hopefully, by the next international break, we will be talking about wins - not VAR.
Women poised for promotion push
While our men’s team has struggled to collect results this term - albeit with a difficult fixture list so far - Burnley women are flying high and sit at the top of their table.
Having narrowly missed out on promotion last season, a change of manager appears to have provided fresh impetus. Sunday’s win over Nottingham Forest means they earned three victories on the bounce, scoring an impressive 12 goals in the process.
I was at the 5-1 win away to Huddersfield Town earlier in the month. Burnley exploited a callow Town back line - they had a very inexperienced young goalkeeper - with a supreme second-half display to ensure the result reflected their dominance.
Rebecca Sawiuk is the new coach of the women’s team. Whereas her opposite number sought to micromanage Huddersfield’s players through the game, Sawiuk was a far calmer presence, reminding players of key messages and taking chances for brief one-on-one coaching. When one attacker was unable to act on the feedback she had been given, she was swiftly replaced by a substitute, who promptly got on the scoresheet.
Burnley boast an outstanding talent in the form of 21-year-old midfielder Millie Ravening, who scored twice against Town. She recorded another brace in the 4-2 defeat of Forest at the weekend and already has six goals in all competitions.
Ravening hit 30 goals last season and she is looking to be even more prolific, making smart runs into the box and using her height and strength to dominate in the box. She is guaranteed to play at a much higher level. Her physicality will simply be too much for teams in the third tier but her touch and eye for goal marks her as one to watch.
I was also very impressed with the driving runs down the flank from left-back Alethea Paul, who is already the team’s captain after only joining this year.
However, something Sawiuk and her team needs to work on is concentration. A couple of times already this season they have conceded immediately after scoring.
Promotion won’t be easy as topping the table only leads to a promotion play-off, but Burnley have made a fine start. Forest missed out last season, losing to Watford after winning the title, and they will compete again. Newcastle United have had heavy investment and have won three out of three, as well as beating us in a cup match.
The team plays out in Leyland - while the women’s and men’s sides are increasingly integrated, this is surely something that needs looking at - so get to a game if you can.
Judy wrote in after the last newsletter:
Whilst important to give our new signings minutes on the pitch, I do question the wisdom of not starting some of our players who have PL experience and can show leadership on the pitch.
It seems our fans are too ready to be critical of players. However, thankfully most come full circle to then support them when they do perform well (ie Muric and Foster are examples from last season).
The tactics were clearly wrong against Spurs - VK alongside whoever is fielded will need to do better.
Completely agree with the team selections - with Taylor, Brownhill and Johann Berg Gudmundsson involved we will be harder to beat. It’s a fair point that some patience will be needed too. Lots of these lads are making a big step up in their careers.
Dez also left a comment:
I'm not at all sure that many of our signings this window are or will ever be PL standard. No matter what VK does to improve them or system he plays we look well below standard. Last year’s team would beat this years team 9 times out of 10 imho. I am hoping that things improve but the glow of the wonderful season just past and the thought of returning to the championship doesn't fill me with despair.
Defensively I think we are probably weaker without Ian Maatsen and Taylor Harwood-Bellis, but in attack all the players we’ve signed should prove themselves in time.
That’s it for this week’s newsletter. I can’t make it to the Turf on Saturday night, so if anyone would like to contribute to next week’s edition, now is a good time to do so.