Dan Black's verdict as Nathan Tella shows Southampton what they could've had in Burnley's 3-0 win over Preston North End
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Vincent Kompany's press conference quip suggested that the Burnley boss went to extreme lengths to ensure Nathan Tella didn't go anywhere during the transfer window.
January's Sky Bet Championship Manager of the Month recognised how valuable the ex-Arsenal academy ace was in his side's pursuit of promotion to the Premier League.
His 12-goal return is the joint-second highest in the division alongside Viktor Gyökeres (Coventry City) and Óscar Estupiñán (Hull City), and just four behind Middlesbrough's Chuba Akpom.
It begs the question: How can a club in Southampton's predicament, and a manager in Nathan Jones's high-pressured situation, display an inexplicable reluctance to reclaim one of the most in-form players on their books?
The Saints are, quite clearly, desperate for an individual with an eye for goal, given they've fired a blank in three of their last five games, and they've only managed to score more than one time in a single fixture on one occasion in their last 17 attempts.
Instead, Tella has made a healthy contribution to Burnley's record-equalling 10-match winning run in the Championship while his parent club languishes at the foot of the Premier League having lost nine of their last 10 games.
The under fire ex-Luton Town boss, who may no longer be in charge by the time you get round to reading this, deserves to be questioned about his oversight, after suggesting that Tella had been surplus to requirements on the South Coast at that point.
And that makes it all the more pleasing for everybody else (aside from those at St Mary's), and Tella himself, to watch him prove his doubters wrong while continuing to enhance his reputation.
"I like proving people wrong and it's even better if I can prove myself wrong," he said. "It's credit to the team, they've created so many chances for me this season.
"Credit goes to the team because they've put me in those positions to score. I've never scored a goal when I've done it all myself, the team has helped me so much and my tactical awareness has come on loads. The staff here have really taken the time with me to help me understand.
"Before I came here I was looking at assisting players and working hard for the team, but I've realised I can do that while getting opportunities to score."
Only time will tell as to whether Burnley's leading scorer can cut it in the top flight, but hat-tricks don't come around often, especially when you take a glance at the Clarets' record.
Chris Wood was the last to hit three in a league game, when putting Wolves to the sword at Molineux in April 2021, while Andre Gray was the last player to net a treble on home soil, as he forced Sunderland to crumble in December 2016.
And they come around in derbies even less frequently. The famously tearful PNE supporter won't want reminding of Chris Iwelumo's hat-trick in the dramatic 4-3 triumph in September 2010 and you'd have to go back a further 13-and-a-half years to pull out Paul Barnes's hat-trick against Blackpool in the old Second Division.
Whether it's with Kompany at Burnley, or elsewhere, a player of Tella's potency, having embarked on his first season of regular first-team football, will more-than-likely be playing in the PL next term.
For now, however, Kompany feels that he's in the right place. He said: "We've got a team with a lot of players who are in a very similar position. Loads of them. They're all in a position where I think it's good that they're not Premier League players yet, so they are where they need to be.
"What will ultimately decide whether they become Premier League players or not is if they're able to maintain what they've done this season. There are plenty of them who have a chance, but it's the most competitive league in the world. You have to be impeccable in how you approach every single day in training."
North End were the last team to beat Burnley at Turf Moor a Championship fixture when Will Keane got the better of brother, Michael, by scoring the opening goal in December 2015, before Daniel Johnson, who was left out of the latest meeting, added a second.
There was no chance of that happening this time around. The hosts were superior in all departments, allowing their opponents very little time on the ball, and severely restricting their territorial gains.
As soon as Hjalmar Ekdal outmuscled Liam Delap, and Jordan Beyer broke out from the back uncontested, the home side gained the upper hand, with these mini-battles — and the successes of Anass Zaroury and Tella in their individual duels against Alan Browne and Robbie Brady respectively — shaping the landscape for the table-toppers to win the war.
Ryan Lowe's men were neither here nor there, lacking the mettle to negotiate a derby, and became psychologically fragile as soon as it became apparent that nothing they attempted could quell their rivals' threat.
A semi-spirited one-man press from the visitors was futile, and anything more was just as ineffective when leaving gaping holes behind. It became humiliating, demoralising, and North End just didn't have the bite to prevent it.
As soon as Tella converted Josh Brownhill's delivery, a goal which equalled a near-century old club record, the writing was on the wall, especially as Preston clung on with just 28 percent possession at the break.
North End, who had won four away games on the bounce coming into this, attempted to switch things up, altering tact and personnel, but it didn't transform the feeling of inevitability.
As the away side continued to get their distances all wrong, and their cohesion and synchronicity slipped, the Clarets capitalised when Ashley Barnes held the ball up and offloaded to Tella who, after leaving Liam Lindsay on the seat of his pants, beat Freddie Woodman at his near post.
PNE had gotten away with one when Ben Whiteman had gifted possession to Zaroury on the edge of the box, as the Moroccan international fired high and wide after side-stepping Jordan Storey, but Lindsay's error wouldn't go unpunished.
The defender's wayward header from Arijanet Muric's clearance was met by the left boot of Tella and the ex-Gunner's bullet found its way through Woodman's legs.
He could've had four when Beyer, once again, burst forward from his own half, divided Brady and Lindsay with his pass, and Tella, with just the goalkeeper to beat, unselfishly tried to get substitute Lyle Foster off the mark, only for Whiteman to recover and clear.
"It was a good game today and a very good win," Kompany concluded. "Turf Moor was what it needed to be, that is crucial for these types of games, and we continue."