Signs the ‘Burnley thing’ we’ve got is coming back - Dyche

Sean Dyche
Sean Dyche
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Results currently don’t show it, but Sean Dyche feels the essence of his Burnley side is returning slowly but surely.

The Clarets have lost their last three Premier League outings, albeit two of those defeats came against unbeaten champions Manchester City and Chelsea.

Dyche’s men have won only two of their 11 league outings so far this season, and while they sit 15th, they are just three points better off than bottom side Fulham.

But he was encouraged by the manner in which they twice fought back to equalise at West Ham on Saturday, and hit the bar at 2-2 before losing 4-2.

Sky Sports’ Jamie Carragher pointed out on Monday night that Burnley have covered over two kilometres less on average per game than they did last season, and have made fewer sprints than any other side in the league.

Dyche is well aware of the statistics, however, and said, ahead of the trip to Leicester City that they do explain to some regard Burnley’s start: “It’s a factor, but we do know the stats.

“When you think of the challenges, it’s slightly skewed with the amount of games, travelling, player availability - that all has to be factored in as well.

“When you’re going week to week to week with nothing in between, it’s quite apparent, and usually statistically true, that the stats are higher, for any given game.

“Within those stats, ball in play is a big one, opposition style, your style etc, but overall there’s a hard line stat you have to be aware of, and we are.

“We are stat busters, everyone knows that, our hot zone is actually having less passes, less possession, less accurate passes, less entries into the final third, and into the box, and we win more statistically.

“You’d be even wiser than me to find out how that happens, but that’s the magic of football, everything tells you that can’t happen, but it has in every Premier League season we’ve had.

“All the relevant markers people say you have to get right are actually not correct in our case.

“So we tell the players to play worse, keep it less and pass longer, and weirdly we win!”

Leicester famously won the Premier League in 2016 despite averaging less than 50% possession, and Dyche noted: “I watched Manchester United on Wednesday night, and they had eight shots and won 2-1, and Juventus had 22.

“That’s Man United versus Juventus. That’s how hard it is to go away to a powerful club and win, even for them.

“So now imagine Burnley, with all due respect to us, that is a good reality measure of how difficult it is.

“Our away record was excellent last year, the year before was a challenge, but the stats were very similar.

“Taking the chances that come your way is massively important for any sport, particularly football, and this season we haven’t in the key moments, which does change the outcome.

“We were excellent first half against Watford, three unbelievable chances, didn’t take them, excellent against Southampton, didn’t take them.

“Then the whole thing looks different.

“Olympiakos at home, if that was 5-0 you wouldn’t have batted an eyelid.

“Last season maybe we were taking those chances, statistically we were.

“If you keep getting the stats right, and performing right - which we have to get back to, we’re not there yet - it will work out for you.

“We have to get back there, but I think we’re starting to, I take great value in the work they’re putting in.”

Asked how far off he felt his side are from reaching what is perceived to be their normal levels, he jokingly places his finger and thumb an inch or so apart, but said: “I think the margins are really tight. They always are with us, so getting back on the right side of them is important, sometimes it’s literally a matter of yards with shape details, and we’ve just come away from the one per cents, we’ve been really good at the things that edge it your way, and if you get lots of them that aren’t quite on, it can affect your outcomes, but some of them are coming back.

“Early season we needed four or five things, but it’s coming back. It’s not a literal measurement, but the feel, the ‘Burnley thing’ we’ve got going on, the relentlessness, the attitude, there’s signs it’s coming back.

“We’ve got to speed that up, but sometimes there has to be patience. No one wants that, we don’t, fans and media don’t, but sometimes there has to be for groups to find their way again.

“It comes through coaching and realignment, but also time, bonding again and finding their way and letting it come back to a norm.

“We’re not far off our norm, and when we get back there, I’ll be in a better position to tell you about the margins.

“We know where we are and we’re just off that, and it’s cost us.”