Newcastle United's January signing handed an important lesson at Tottenham – now faces crucial test of character
A month ago, Dan Burn could simply do no wrong at Newcastle United.
The Magpies had effortlessly climbed out of relegation trouble, boasting the best defensive record in the Premier League in 2022 with the Geordie centre-back at the heart of it.
Signing Burn from Brighton and Hove Albion for £13million in January has proven to be a shrewd piece of business by Eddie Howe. The 29-year-old has been a breath of fresh air in many ways following his return to the North East.
But all good runs must come to an end at some point. And just as Newcastle’s nine game unbeaten streak ended at Chelsea last month, Burn’s form has unfortunately followed suit.
In many ways, Burn has epitomised Newcastle United since the turn of the year. His confidence and commitment were absolutely crucial in helping The Magpies climb nine points clear of the relegation zone.
Though confidence risks overconfidence, and rash decision making can soon follow. Unfortunately that is how things have played out for Burn and Newcastle in the past few games.
The defender put in a near faultless display at Chelsea before a last minute lapse in concentration allowed Kai Havertz to snatch three points.
Another costly mistake came the following game as Burn was one of several Newcastle players at fault after he charged out of position in the build-up to Alex Iwobi’s 99th minute winner at Everton.
Those costly mistakes in previous games turned into a 45 minute horror show at Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday afternoon as The Magpies threw away a 1-0 lead to lose 5-1 in North London.
Newcastle legend Alan Shearer was quick to highlight Burn’s performance following the match
“Dan Burn – who has had a lot of praise, and rightly so – has really struggled in the last two or three games,” he said on Premier League Productions.
“He struggled massively in that second half. But he wasn't the only one.”
Newcastle’s capitulation was a collective effort rather than being down to an individual.
And Burn could be having nightmares about that second half at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium as he was frequently found hopelessly scrambling after players as Spurs tore Newcastle apart. The positioning of fellow January arrival Matt Targett did little to protect him either.
The 6ft 7in defender was chasing shadows and charging out of position recklessly in an attempt to win back possession.
Just a matter of weeks after talk of a potential England call-up for Burn, a dose of reality has kicked in.
That’s not to say Burn isn’t capable of earning a call-up in the future. After all, five formidable performances comfortably outweigh two lapses of concentration and a ‘bad day at the office’, which is hopefully all this Spurs display was.
Nonetheless, it has provided a timely lesson in quality but also perspective to Newcastle, the players, the fans and the coaching staff. It’s clear they still have some way to go if they want to compete at the right end of the table but they have come so far already having sat deep in relegation trouble when Burn arrived.
And a return to home comforts at St James’s Park over the next few games will hopefully help them reset and refocus going into a crucial final run of matches.