Burley refuses to defend the indefensible

Last updated : 23 September 2007 By Chris C
Burley is almost always at pains to defend his players, even when they have consistently thrown away leads with suicidal defending throughout his tenure and in truth ever since relegation season.

Barnsley's late winner was the straw that broke the camel's back. Seconds after Idiakez had finally broken through the dogged Barnsley defense, a simple punt downfield from the kick-off resulted in the softest of goals to send a small, but vocal Barnsley following into raptures.

At the press conference afterwards, Burley was exasperated and unable to hide his frustration at how experienced senior professionals could lose concentration yet again.

Let's take some of his comments: 'Unprofessional, how can you legislate for that'; 'A real kick in the teeth'; 'Body blow'; 'Very disappointing'; 'That should never happen'.

Burley had plenty of variations on the theme, but no answer as to how it keeps happening. This is not about Barnsley who deserve huge credit for never giving up on the victory, if not for the time wasting throughout the second half that led to six minutes of extra time.

Two late goals against Watford, a own goal against Colchester, in this week alone, tell the story. Lack of fitness and in turn concentration must play its part. Lack of confidence after so many surrendered leads another. The manager must take his share of the blame for failing to solve the problem.

The concern is that Burley seemed at the end of his tether rather than a man about to give his side the bollocking they perhaps need.

Burley didn't help himself with some curious selections which disrupted the flow of his side. Yet again numerous players were out of position and not forming partnerships across the field.

The unfortunate central midfielder Wright at right back; Viafara's excellent partnership with Safri broken up to accommodate Surman the winger in central midfield; the right footed Hammill on the left; two small strikers against a big defense defending deep.

You can understand Burley seeking to find the right combinations after the disappointment of Colchester on Wednesday night, but is it really that necessary to keep switching players out of position?

We can only hope that Burley's disappointment breeds fresh determination to get a talented group of individuals into an organised and consistent winning team. If not, Saints' season is going to be over before it even gets started.