Brian Laws may have been hired as Burnley manager after topping a statistical analysis chart but the Clarets' thrashing at the hands of Manchester City on Saturday showed a man out of his depth in the cut-throat world of the Premier League.
His side let in three goals in the opening seven minutes with such embarrassing ease that it seems there is little hope of Burnley escaping relegation this season.
Laws was left furious and shocked in equal measures on the touchline after City's opening barrage. He spent a lengthy time in the dressing room afterward trying to digest with his players how their plans to replicate Fulham's "Great Escape" in 2008 went so horribly wrong. He then said sorry to the home fans, some of whom walked out after the third City goal had gone in.
"I apologise to the supporters for an awful display," Laws said. "It wasn't good enough and unacceptable. I feel I am getting full commitment from the players, but I am disappointed and feel let-down. Everyone is in shock."
In 14 games at Burnley since taking over in January following Owen Coyle's departure, Laws has presided over 12 defeats, one draw and one win. The Clarets have still to win away from home this season; indeed, their only point earned outside Turf Moor was in a 3-3 draw at Manchester City in November.
If the teeming Lancashire rain had not turned the Turf Moor pitch into something resembling a bog in the second half, Vincent Kompany believes the result – which propelled City in fourth place in the table – could have been much, much worse for Burnley.
"The lads think that, yes," Kompany said. "If the pitch had been in the same condition as it was in the first half, it would have been easier for us to play those counter-attacks."
Burnley's back four were poor. The first of Emmanuel Adebayor's two goals, Patrick Vieira's first strike for City and Kompany's header were all the result of corners, while goalkeeper Brian Jensen gifted Carlos Tevez his goal. Craig Bellamy also scored for the visitors, as did Steven Fletcher with a late consolation for Burnley.
After Coyle went to Bolton, Burnley asked international consulting firm Deloitte and Touche to examine who was the best Championship manager in terms of delivering results in relation to playing budgets. Laws came out on top, despite the fact he had been just been sacked by Sheffield Wednesday in November and his only other managerial experience was at Scunthorpe and Grimsby. Perhaps the numbers don't always add up.
Burnley next travel to Hull on Saturday in a match which is guaranteed to be a desperate scrap for survival. The Tigers, who were beaten 2-0 by Stoke on Saturday, are also in the relegation zone, albeit three points better off than Laws' side. If Burnley cannot muster anything from the KC Stadium there will be little hope to be taken from their remaining fixtures against Sunderland, Liverpool, Birmingham and Tottenham.
Inspired by Spurs' 3-1 defeat to Sunderland earlier in the day, City's prolific display ensured a much-improved goal difference in the race for the final Champions League spot, with City now on +24 compared to Spurs' +26.
"The targets are very clear," Kompany said. "We have to get fourth place. We all want it, the players want it, the manager wants it. The way we are playing at the moment, there is no reason to think that anything is going to change."
City's run-in has them at home to Birmingham and Manchester United, away to Arsenal, home to Aston Villa and Tottenham before finishing at struggling West Ham. "We are definitely in a good position," Kompany added. "Look at the games we have to play – United, Arsenal, Villa, Tottenham. You could say they are difficult games, but I say they are perfect games. They are teams that are direct opponents.
"If you look at our results, we've often performed best against the top teams. It was important to beat Wigan and Burnley. Now we have to get the result against Birmingham. If we can do that then we can really look forward to those four games."
Burnley(4-2-3-1): Jensen; Mears, Duff, Cort, Fox; Alexander, McDonald (Cork, h-t); Nugent, Blake (Elliott, h-t), Eagles; Fletcher (Paterson, 80). Substitutes not used: Weaver (gk), Carlisle, Thompson, Bikey.
Manchester City (4-4-2): Given; Onuoha, Touré, Kompany, Sylvinho (De Jong, 67); Bellamy, Vieira, Barry, Johnson; Tevez (Nimely, 83), Adebayor (Santa Cruz, 79). Substitutes not used: Nielsen (gk), Garrido, Wright-Phillips, Boyata.
Referee: A Wiley (Staffordshire).
Man of the match: Tevez.
Burnley's remaining games: Sat Hull (a), 17 Apr Sunderland (a), 24 Apr Liverpool (h), 1 May Birmingham (a), 9 May Tottenham (h).Reuse content