ANYONE going to Turf Moor on Saturday expecting a footballing spectacle between Burnley and Sheffield United, think again.
This will be an old-fashioned slogger of a match. It will be about grinding it out, however ugly.
Burnley boss Vincent Kompany can turn things around if he beats Sheffield UnitedCredit: Getty
It’s the old cliche of a six-pointer and this is the ultimate definition of one.
To get a three-point gap over your rivals at the bottom is huge but I feel it’s bigger for Burnley.
While they haven’t been great, we can see how they want to play and they have been close in a few games but the pressure will soon start to crank up on boss Vincent Kompany, especially if they lose this one.
I don’t think he is going to be out of a job — he has achieved so much at that club in such a short space of time.
But everyone expects Sheffield United and Luton to go down.
Burnley’s owners will be thinking: “I thought we had a better team than them? We won the Championship. Why are we below both of them? Why are they winning and we’re not?”
In those sorts of games, as a player, you should be really excited. For these clubs, they are always the underdogs. There aren’t many games where you go into matches thinking you should win in the Prem. This is one of them.
All it takes is one victory. You would be surprised how just one good result can springboard your entire season, especially if it is against a rival or it comes at a pivotal time.
In my first season up with Watford in the Prem in the 2015-2016 campaign, we drew our first three games and then lost away to Manchester City.
Our next game at home to Swansea felt big. They were a good team but we needed a first home win and we got it — a scrappy 1-0 down to ten men for most of the second half.
From our next 13 games, we picked up 23 points, which basically kept us up.
I remember at training in the days that followed, there was a feeling of “We belong here. We’ve made it”. All that self-doubt and insecurity was gone.
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Troy Deeney doesn’t expect Kompany’s future as Burnley boss to be in dangerCredit: Getty
Burnley haven’t had that feeling yet. Their only win came at Luton in October and it’s been an uphill struggle since.
Beating the Blades could be season-defining. Kompany and those players will feel like their season has been kick-started.
Don’t underestimate how this one result could also determine whether Burnley’s owners spend in January. A few more good results before Christmas and the mood changes. The trust in the current crop of young players returns. Lose, and desperation may creep in.
The one question that will be going around Vinny’s head is: Can this team win at all costs? Win ugly. Burnley have their style of play, but there comes a time when results matter.
They got so used to winning last year that they were never really under pressure.
Turf Moor used to be the stage for so many niggly, gritty sort of games.
That’s changed — they have made improvements to the stadium. The dressing rooms have been revamped.
When Sean Dyche was there, they used to let the grass grow in the corners of the pitch to try and trap opponents there and so the ball would hold up more.
Vinny has changed that and you have to respect it but the Clarets are definitely not as intimidating as they once were.