TALKING TACTICS: Clarets need to get on a run

Jay Rodriguez celebrates his winner against Hull
Jay Rodriguez celebrates his winner against Hull

SCOUT Phil Smith looks ahead to the home game against Ipswich on the back of that late win away at Hull.

“We’re winning at home,” sang the Hull City supporters after the opening strike from Matty Fryatt. Just like the same chant which began after a strike from Kevin Kilbane, during our only away victory in the Premier League, at the KC Stadium, back in April 2010, the very same fans were made to eat the largest slice of humble pie once again.

Once the euphoria of such a late, late unexpected three points dies away, the inquest must begin in earnest. Burnley were completely outplayed for the majority of the game, and no amount of pleasure gained from this victory must ever diminish that fact.

The decision to begin the game with a 4-4-1-1 formation was an avoidable mistake from Eddie Howe, and he can count himself exceptionally fortunate to have been a mere two goals behind, following the second half strike, once again from Fryatt. I highlighted on Friday that Hull City would look to utilise three men in central midfield ,and, given our 4-4-1-1 formation, a 3v2 disadvantage was evident in central areas.

I can only assume that the chosen tactic of our manager was to direct distribution towards Treacy/Wallace/Stanislas and play with width. In theory, those three and Rodriguez would be afforded a one-on-one situation elsewhere on the pitch.

I had previously stressed the importance of applying pressure in the first, second and third phase. Burnley failed to heed my advice and thus the game resembled a training match in part, precisely what I had warned against. As a result we were overrun in central midfield, and utilising our wide players became an impossible task. Who would they deliver the ball to? It could certainly not be Rodriguez. He was required to drop deep into midfield in order to prevent Hull City from dominating in the centre.

Having had the game in the bag, perhaps a bit of tactical naivety from Nicky Barmby contributed to the points slipping from his grasp. An evident flaw of 4-3-3 is the lack of wide midfielders. As a result of the three midfield players centrally, both fullbacks must step forward and operate where a wide midfielder would, during defensive transition. Poor decision making can result in your central midfield unit of three having to step out wide to block the offensive transition of the opposition. Otherwise Treacy and Wallace can be freed behind the defensive line with relative ease. In laymens terms? 4-3-3 is exceptionally vulnerable to width! Why take the risk against a Burnley side overloaded with wingers?

With absolutely nothing to lose, everybody could see that we were going to throw the proverbial kitchen sink at Peter Gulacsi. Why persist with a 4-3-3? A minor tweak of mentality and positioning can see it evolve into a defensive 4-5-1. With Fryatt as the target man this would have provided the beleaguered keeper with the protection needed to see the game out. In my opinion, the phrase “the best form of defence is attack” is an absolute load of nonsense, and the Hull City manager would do well to remember that.

A defeat tonight against Ipswich Town will render the late, late winner by Rodriguez irrelevant. The league table does not lie and Burnley are at the wrong end of it because that is where we have deserved to be so far. One swallow does not make a summer, and if we are to make a genuine impression on this division, we need to get on a run and put a string of results together.