Perhaps it was a moment to encapsulate a reign, if not a game. The sense is that Crystal Palace have not just lost matches under Frank de Boer; they have lost their way, and he may lose his job as a result.
They have been architects of their own downfall, their problems caused in part by misguided attempts to pass the ball. If this was De Boer’s farewell, it seemed a strangely fitting way to go.
De Boer has lost to Huddersfield Town, Swansea City and Burnley, three of the pre-season relegation favourites. On each occasion, Palace have had vast amounts of possession and done little constructive with it. They did muster something destructive on this occasion: the sole goal was created by Palace and donated to Burnley. “A very sloppy goal,” De Boer admitted.
- Richard Jolly: Frank de Boer feels like the wrong man, in the wrong place, at the wrong time at Crystal Palace
The winger Chung-yong Lee was brought in to bolster Palace’s supply line. He instead turned supplier for Burnley, a horribly misjudged back-pass only finding Chris Wood, who sidefooted a shot past Wayne Hennessey to cap a fine start to life at Turf Moor. The £15 million (Dh73m) signing had mustered a late equaliser on his debut against Tottenham Hotspur. His first start brought an early decider.
Only three minutes had elapsed when the majority at Turf Moor informed De Boer that he was getting “sacked in the morning.” It may prove an accurate prediction, though the manager sounded unworried. “I just focus on what I do. What other people think, they have to decide.”
Indeed, far from being a man on the brink, he looked forward. “When I’m still the manager of Palace I will give 100 per cent,” he said. “We are still with the project and we know where we come from and what we want to achieve. I’m convinced we are going to achieve it.”
That confidence may be misplaced but De Boer was defiant. “I am very disappointed about the result,” he said. “I am not disappointed about how we played. I will sign for this every game if we create that amount of chances.”
Nevertheless, Palace, while showing they are adept at shooting themselves in the foot, remain the only team in England without a league goal. They had had 23 shots to Burnley’s four. “I cannot believe we lost,” said De Boer. Centre-back Scott Dann came closest, heading just wide and seeing efforts cleared off the line by Matthew Lowton and James Tarkowski in either half.
“I thought they were the better side,” admitted Burnley manager Sean Dyche. “They had two fantastic chances, particularly Dann’s.”
Christian Benteke, with a shot Nick Pope saved, also threatened. “Technically, a fantastic save,” said Dyche, delighted with the Premier League debutant.
He was required because England goalkeeper Tom Heaton went off with a suspected dislocated shoulder. “If it is that, it is not weeks, more like months,” Dyche said. For all the praise from both managers, however, Palace tested his inexperienced deputy too rarely.
- Premier League round-up: Morata strikes for Chelsea, Manchester United denied by Stoke
“We showed spirit,” De Boer said. “I think it was quite dynamic.” A 50-minute impasse in the middle of the game suggested otherwise but he felt a corner was turned.
There was a difference as, compromising, he abandoned his favoured 3-4-3 formation. Changing system, however, was simpler than changing their fortunes.
“The shape was more familiar,” Dyche said. But so is the plight of a club who have tended to react to relegation fears by sacking managers.