CLARETS boss Eddie Howe admitted the performance against play-off semi-finalists Cardiff left him pondering “what might have been”.
Burnley were denied a deserved win against the Bluebirds by a 90th-minute equaliser from Craig Bellamy – earlier Jay Rodriguez had given the Clarets a first-half lead with his 15th goal of the season.
But the display from the young Burnley side ensured the season ended on a positive and optimistic note, and Howe said: “We leave this season with the sense of what might have been.
“When you look at us playing at full flow, and at times we did that, you think ‘what a team’. And we’re capable of a lot better.
“But then we concede the goal at the end and you think that consistency every game, home and away, that’s what we’re going to strive for.”
Burnley finished the campaign in eighth, but it’s not something Howe will take much pleasure from, after missing out on a play-off place: “We want to be finishing higher.
“I don’t think you can ever be satisfied. We’re always striving for more and we’ll certainly be striving for a lot in pre-season and make sure we hit the ground running next year.
“We’ve got to aim high. Without putting too much pressure on us that’s what we’ve got to do.”
Looking back on the game, Howe was pleased overall.
He said: “I thought we were excellent. We set out to pass the ball and keep the ball and try to frustrate Cardiff, and I thought we did that really, really well. The tempo of our passing was excellent.
“We created a few chances, but again that would be the thing we perhaps look at and say we didn’t create enough.
“But I think there was an eye on the future there. It was a young side.
“The style of play, trying to dictate play by having possession of the ball, and also we worked extremely hard off the ball in trying to close down and win the ball back.
“I thought in all phases of the game, probably except from creating chances, we were excellent.”
Howe gave David Edgar only a fourth start of the season, and first at centre-back.
And when Andre Bikey was withdrawn at half-time, we saw Brian Easton deployed in the centre rather than at left-back.
Howe said: “It’s giving people an opportunity to play and that’s important when the games don’t have anything riding on it.
“They’ve had to be very patient in the background and I thought all the lads who came in did well.
“David’s a very talented boy. You can see that in this performance.
“But again consistency will be the thing that he needs to work on and it relates with us as a team.”
Player of the season Rodriguez ended the campaign on a high by finishing joint-top scorer with Chris Eagles, and Howe said: “It was a great goal – a really good ball by Andre, an excellent run by Jay and a superb finish.
“The only disappointing thing is that we didn’t add to it. There was a battle going on for leading scorer.
“I’m pleased for Jay because he’s such a good lad and has areas to improve as everybody has.
“But he’s the type of lad that will do that work and come back an even better player for next season.”
The preparation for next season haas already begun, and trying to secure the signature of Jack Cork is a key issue.
Howe said: “Jack will go back to Chelsea and finish the season with them. But there will be discussions taking place and we’ll just have to see how it unfolds.”