Burnley boss Dyche takes no notice of anti-football jibes as his side look to evolve again in the Premier League

Sean Dyche pays no attention to those who accuse his side of being “anti-football” or direct - he just wants his side to be effective.

Sunday, 19th May 2019, 7:00 am
Jeff Hendrick rounds off a 24-pass move to score the winner at Everton in 2017

And after the struggles of the first half of the season, his players were just that, collecting 28 points from 16 games to secure safety, before losing the last three games.

Dyche has often spoken of his footballing ‘nirvana’, trying to find as many ways as possible to hurt opponents, taking inspiration from Sir Alex Ferguson’s best Manchester United teams.

However, Dyche knows full well, after staying up in the Premier League for the first time in 2016/17, his players had to look after the ball better.

He wanted them to evolve, to be fitter with the ball, as well as without it, and the evidence was there for all to see when they won 1-0 against Everton at Goodison Park in October 2017 with a Jeff Hendrick goal which rounded off a 24-pass move.

That month, Burnley went seventh in the table, and never dropped lower than that to claim Europa League football, although the second half of the season was more of a struggle, after the injuries to Robbie Brady and Steven Defour.

The pair struggled to shrug off injury again last season, so, with the pair expected to return to pre-season fully fit, is the plan to try and become more expressive again?

Dyche said: "I think injuries, mixed with ups and downs in form, mixed with having to change the side a lot, has affected it in some way.

“And then you've got to find a way of being productive first.

"People question how you play - up until Christmas last year, I think it's fair to say a lot of people think we were playing exciting football, at least good football.

“And in this modern world of 'the right way', it does help when you have a fully-fit squad, when you have players playing very well, and if you haven't, do you just lie down and go 'oh well, we'll just not bother and lose'.

"No, you look at an effective way that can change your season, and I think we've done that well.

"Outside this building, we don't listen to too much of the opinion and noise, because you get bogged down with it.”

For Dyche, it is about pragmatism, about staying in the top tier: "First things first with Burnley Football Club, staying in the Premier League is a massive, massive thing, for any club, but certainly for what it means here.

"What it means to the players, the team, the staff, the staff and team's lives by the way - because you don't just get paid a fortune all the time, you have to earn that.

"Then, going into the town, the people, it means a hell of a lot.

"So we have to find a way of making it work, because it means so much.

"I've been really pleased with that, not getting pushed in other directions, staying focused on the job in hand.

"No matter what anyone says, you have to win games, or certainly enough games, to be deemed successful at whatever level of the market you're at.”

And he notes how direct sides like Spurs are on occasion - notably in the Champions League semi-final ties with Ajax when Fernando Llorente so unsettled the Dutch side: "If you've got Llorente, he's a good footballer, but he's a big fella, and you want to give him some supply.

"If you are at a club with a different skill set, would you use their skills?

“Of course you would.

"I'd take my players all day, but their skill set has to be used wisely, to be productive and win games.

"The irony is, look at the players we've had in and moved on for absolute fortunes.

"They must be learning something, how are they going on to all these big clubs and delivering performances?”