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Bird's Eye View: Do The Maths

16 January 2013

Clarets Player commentator Phil Bird returns with his weekly column

Do the Maths:
Three wins in four league games has put us on the fringe of the play off picture.
I thought we were fantastic against Crystal Palace. 
Significantly it was only the second time in the league this season that the London side had failed to score. 
Weakened by injury, and suspension, we beat one of the best sides in the Championship thanks to a tremendous late strike by Junior Stanislas.



Eagles boss Ian Holloway tried to tell us it was a miss-hit!
Really? We'll remind him of that when it appears in our Goal of the Season shortlist!
We need to keep the pressure on the top six.
We can go above Saturday's opponents Millwall with a win at The Den. We are on a run and need to keep that momentum going.
 
Sean Dyche's post match conference almost took on a crash course in probability theory. He was right to use statistics to illustrate our recent form. 
I had heard ill-informed whispers suggesting we weren't creating anywhere near as many chances as earlier in the season.
Clearly that’s not the case. 
Before his appointment, Dyche watched the fixture at Cardiff and saw us easily beaten by the title favourites.
The defensive improvement since then has been nothing short of remarkable. 
In the games up to, and including Cardiff, we had conceded 29 goals in just 13 Championship games. Since then it's just 11 goals against in 14 league matches. 
Some turnaround! 
Significantly since his appointment no Championship has got a better defensive record than us - Nigel Pearson's Leicester have also conceded 11 goals in that time period. 
Six of our eight clean sheets have come with Dyche in charge. 
These statistics give us real hope for the future.
I suppose it means nothing if we can't maintain that improvement.
Starting at The Den we also need to start converting more of our chances.

Get Me Out of Here!
Ian Holloway looked flustered after the game on Saturday.
From a lack of protection for his players, to grief he received from the Bob Lord Stand, he just wasn't a happy bunny. 
Understandably so, since his record as a manager at Turf Moor is poor. 



It’s just three draws and eight defeats in 11 games now with Bristol Rovers, Queens Park Rangers, Plymouth Argyle, Blackpool and now Crystal Palace. 
It’s unfair to pick put individuals but I thought out full backs, Kieran Trippier and Danny Lafferty, were exceptional against Yannick Bolasie and Wilf Zaha.
His mood will have worsened later to find this tweet from star winger Zaha: "Looks like I'm on my way to the top of the Premier League", a reference surely to a prospective move to Old Trafford.
The comment was later deleted with Zaha claiming he didn't post it!
Palace have put a £20m price tag on the Ivory Coast-born forward. I’d be surprised if they got nowhere near that! 
  
Get Off Jay's Back:
I was absolutely staggered by the reaction on Match of the Day to Southampton's penalty at Villa Park.  
There was a witch-hunt on the BBC. Alan Hansen, Alan Shearer and presenter Gary Lineker all wanted their pound of flesh. This kangaroo court labelled Jay Rodriguez as a fully fledged member of the diving club.
Robbie Savage chipped in and called him a cheat on BBC Radio 5 Live's 606. 
A week before Hansen was happy to use his lucrative Daily Telegraph column to defend Liverpool's Luis Suarez at length.
He has shown far less leniency with Rodriguez. 



And it's great when you put yourself on a pedestal.
I remember Shearer getting booked for diving playing for England versus Romania in Euro 2000. 
Stones and glass houses come to mind! 
I've looked at the incident a number of times and I'm not so sure.
Does Rodriguez step back avoid the challenge and tumble? He doesn't look at the referee, nor does he appeal. He doesn't fling himself over an outstretched leg like other higher profile players we have been seen doing recently. I saw his every kick in a Burnley shirt at no stage did he give me the impression he was a diver.  
Anyway, if you listened to BBC's noble men you would think simulation is a 21st century phenomena. 
No way, it's been going on for years.
Francis Lee famously even got himself the nickname ‘Lee Won Pen!’
 
You're Dropped! 
Football can be a mad, mad world.
After Sunday's game at the Emirates, assistant referee John Brooks shook hands with City defender Joleon Lescott and suggested "they paid 62 quid over there, go and see them". 
His reward? He was dropped from a midweek FA Cup tie. 
Ridiculous, it was simply an innocent comment picked up by the SKY microphones.

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