Only one place to start and that is with Brentford’s James Tarkowski. Not since Pierre van Hooijdonk famously went AWOL for ‘broken promises’ has a footballer gone so publicly on strike.
A £1.7 million bid came in, a paltry figure, but this is Burnley – that is how we operate. No matter if Dyche offered a quid, he should have played, and it shows a weak character that only seems to ever surface in football. You never see the like in Rugby or Cricket.
The consensus is the Mancunian wants to move north to be nearer to his sick mother – you can’t knock him for that – but telling his gaffer Dean Smith an hour before kick-off is not the way to go about it. With the national spotlight on the ethics and practices of Burnley in this saga, the Clarets do not come out very well as you would believe Dyche and his recruitment team had knowledge of the whole Tarkowski situation.
The Burnley manager’s infamous phrases that he attributes to his ‘group’, be it the ‘framework’ of his ‘unit’ or the ‘ethics’ of his team, it doesn’t necessarily match up with how the Clarets have operated in this transfer.
On the pitch, the 90-minute spell that existed between the second half against MK Dons up until the half-time whistle at Griffin Park, Burnley yielded seven goals without reply. You just have to decide what shade of purple to attribute to that patch of play.
It was the best first half performance I have ever seen from a Burnley side in living memory. Now unless Tarkowski is a hybrid of Alessandro Nesta and Franco Baresi, you would surmise that he wouldn’t have halted the lesson Burnley dished out to their hosts in the first half. Not since Burnley pulled up a chair at the table of the founder members of football back in 1888 have the Clarets put on such a display. Those 45 minutes is as close you’ll get to feeling like a United fan in the mid 90s.
‘Tarky’, as the Brentford fans know him, has made a huge PR error here. If he joins the Clarets and he doesn’t hit the ground running, this could be held against the giant centre-half. Burnley fans are no strangers to seeing bids come in for their top men; Michael Keane came out at the start of the month saying he was going nowhere. That is how it is done.
Carlos Tevez once refused to come on as a substitute at Manchester City and still got a game after Roberto Mancini said he was ‘finished’ – unfortunately the power lies with the player, especially if they have talent.
I think Burnley will land their man but I would leave ‘Tarky’ be down in London. Don’t sign him, move on. Player power is now too rife within the game.
Sean Dyche knew what he was doing, putting a bid in for a player on the cusp of this fixture. It was a coy and clever management tactic in my book and the mind games Dyche employed shouldn’t go unnoticed. He is a huge advocate of ‘fine margins’ and ‘percentages’, he put them into play here – the Burnley manager is evolving, rightly or wrongly is down to which team you support.
Looking ahead, the points tally can certainly be added to. Five out of the next eight league games are at home with the ‘market leaders’ Derby County coming to the Turf on Monday night with home matches to follow against Hull City, Rotherham, Nottingham Forest and Blackburn Rovers, in that order.
With or without Tarkowski in the ranks, this gives the Clarets a strong platform to mount a serious automatic promotion challenge. Let’s just hope the Clarets goal-getters don’t go on strike.