The weather was rubbish, Burnley were rubbish, and the only thing that could have made it worse was if Sean Dyche was stood on the touchline with a brolly in hand.
As I sat high in the James Hargreaves Stand, I was out of reach of the incessant rain that poured into Turf Moor. Sean Dyche was not so lucky; he took a soaking from the rain and waves off sub sections of Burnley supporters after the game.
It was a bad day at the office for Dyche, and he doesn’t have that many at this level. Let’s not forget that this was only his eighth defeat in his last 65 Championship fixtures – some record.
The Clarets looked predictable, slow, one dimensional and lacking of ideas. The nigh on biblical conditions did not help, but yes it’s the same for both sides. Preston did not come to play football though, they attempted the smash and grab and it paid off.
The good thing about football is you can always put it right in the next match, and Burnley now travel to QPR. Loftus Road is one of those old enigmatic grounds where you can see a ‘proper’ football match; and if it’s a bore you can always get some Christmas shopping done in the capital.
Manager Dyche will have to guard his troops against the tide of enthusiasm that accompanies a new manager. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink appears a good addition from the outside looking in – however, QPR have been a pig of a club in recent years, and if you put lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig.
This is an ideal opportunity for the Burnley manager to shake things up, and here are five changes that need to happen at Loftus Road.
1. Matthew Lowton needs to start
When he jogged on to the pitch against Preston you could visibly tell he had no idea why he was brought on. 1-0 down in a derby, fans wanted a Claret armada on the PNE goal, but got the waving of a white flag.
I reckon there was method in Dyche’s madness. I believe it was done to get Lowton some minutes out on the pitch and now the former Aston Villa man will start the next game at QPR. In essence, it’s now easier to drop Tendayi Darikwa.
2. Mike Duff needs to be dropped
The guy is 38 in January; it’s time to give him a rest. I like Duff, he is competent at this level, but on Saturday he was treading water – if you isolate and run at him at pace he is susceptible to a skinning, which was duly handed to him by Joe Garner for PNE’s second goal.
3. Stephen Ward must start
I have campaigned for it before, but I feel now is the time put Stephen Ward back in the boat with Ben Mee replacing Duff at centre-half. The amount of possession our full-backs had on Saturday was notable by how wasteful the Clarets were with the ball from this area.
The Irishman must have done something seriously wrong to the manager as he never seems to get a sniff – with the size of Ward’s nose that is unfathomable.
4. Deploy Dean Marney in central midfield
I would be very interested to see how a Marney/Joey Barton central partnership would operate; it could be reminiscent of the bash brothers of Mighty Duck infamy. Now David Jones, the man Marney would most likely replace, is Burnley’s leading assister with four, so it is the most difficult decision for the manager to make in my book.
5. Change the formation
The element of surprise, which Burnley rarely has. This is an ideal opportunity for Dyche to change the formation – opposition managers can spend the week setting up to counter Burnley as they invariably know the starting line-up. Preston boss Simon Grayson alluded to it as much in his post-match interview last weekend.
A 4-5-1 system accommodating all three aforementioned central midfielders would make the Clarets a very much diverse outfit to the one we are used to seeing. It would also be a chance for Dyche to shake off his rigid tag and prove he has the tactical capacity to change things when Plan A is not working.