Like the aforementioned steed, in recent outings we have been comfortably ahead, a decent buffer between ourselves and our rivals, only to flounder of our own accord, our limbs splayed to each point of the compass like an all too willing harlot.
Last week’s draw against Hull marked the fifth time this season that we have taken the lead in a game only to fail to go on and win it, the other examples being tottenham, Bolton in the League Cup, Fulham and Sunderland.
Perhaps more galling was that after taking a 2-0 lead with barely ten minutes on the clock, we found ourselves 3-2 down by halftime. To Hull.
Having equalised, to then fail to claim a winner against the 10-men of Hull City (Hull City, by Jehovah!) did nothing to inspire confidence in anything other than another drab tale of survival to add to our catalogue of underperformance.
We even had two gilt-edged chances to win it at the death – a gift of a header from Junior Stanislas, preceded by a weak effort by what appeared to be the spectral embodiment of the fabled Inter Milan midfielder, Luis Jiminez.
However, these gilded opportunities will merely serve as sour footnotes to what constitutes a distasteful hors d’oeuvre to the 2009-’10 campaign.
As legions of St. Bernard’s scour Mount Krispy Kreme looking for HeadHammer Shark, their kegs brimming with hot fudge, it falls to me to shed light upon the next stage in our lacklustre slog towards 15th place.
Burnley pay us a visit this weekend, on the back of some significant results and three months into a solid start to their inaugural Premier League campaign.
The Lancastrians have done an admirable job of picking up a steady stream of points this season. Whilst being on the wrong end of a few thumpings early on, these have been punctuated by notable wins against the likes of Manchester United, Everton and Sunderland.
Burnley have also succeeded in picking up points versus those teams against whom they may well be competing for Premiership survival come May, defeating as they have Hull City and Birmingham.
Last season’s Championship players have largely made the transition to the Premier League, with defenders Stephen Caldwell and Andre Bikey particularly impressive. Our own Tyrone Mears less so.
Not being the pushover we perhaps expected pre-season, The Clarets arrive at Upton Park on the back of two solid results, a 1-1 draw at home to Aston Villa and a 3-3 thriller away to Manchester City.
Although, the latter was largely due to some defending from Wayne Bridge that Rigobert Song would have been ashamed of. Or proud of – I can’t quite figure that one out.
Anyway, retribution was swift as this performance saw Bridge jettisoned from my fantasy football team quicker than you can say ‘Jordan’s kids should be taken into care’.
On the four occasions that we’ve played Burnley since 1980, we have recorded two wins and two draws, one of each home and away.
Our last encounter at the Boleyn Ground was back in August 2004 and ended in a 1-0 win courtesy of an edge-of-the-box belter from midfield cannon fodder, Adam Nowland - now plying his trade at Northern Premier League Division One North side, AFC Fylde.
4. General Franco
One positive taken from last week was the performance of this season’s elder statesman, Guillermo Franco.
Despite sharing the name of a 20th-century European dictator (something which endears him greatly to The H List) and resembling Justine Henin on more steroids than she is generally accustomed to, Franco succeeded in scoring our first and setting up our second.
In the absence of Alessandro Diamanti, the Mexican international took on more creative responsibility, as well as providing support for the returning Carlton Cole.
He provides a different threat from either the colossus Cole or the fleet-footed Hines and if he can go on to do what DiMichele or Tristan summarily failed in, and claim ten or more goals this season, combined with a fit and firing Cole, he could prove the difference this year and make a telling contribution.
5. Picture Book
Guillermo Franco celebrates taking Stefan Edberg to a second set tie-break
6. Now Is The Winter Of Our Discontent?
In a marked contrast to last year, we have been scoring freely recently, but have suffered from the multitude of holes in our permeable defence remaining unplugged.
Last season’s bedrock has become this year’s brittle undercarriage, the quantity of goals leaked in just three months rendering the custom of defending as futile a gesture as ‘Celebrity Mum of the Year’.
The concession of four penalties this term and the twenty four goals conceded in our last ten games showcases a defensive rigidity akin to the French Army, and all of this approaching what will be a significant portion of our season.
Along with last week’s trip to Hull, our schedule between now and the New Year constitutes a crucial run of fixtures which will go a long way to shaping our campaign.
Important ties against the likes of Burnley, Birmingham, Bolton and Portsmouth are interspersed with visits to Old Trafford and White Hart Lane, as well as the courteous East End welcome always extended to Chelsea.
Another batch of favourable fixtures awaits us in the first two months of 2010, but should we emerge from that period with little to show for it, a place in the bottom half of the bottom half is the best we can hope for.