“You can watch the 5-0s a hundred times, and not find a way to change things” - Sean Dyche on facing Manchester City at the Etihad
Burnley have lost 5-0 on their last four visits to Manchester City.
But Sean Dyche hasn’t tortured himself watching re-runs of those games, insisting he wouldn’t learn anything if he saw them back “a hundred times”.
Every mistake tends to be punished severely by Pep Guardiola’s champions, and, as Dyche goes in search for his first win over the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss, he said: “I definitely don’t look back at those 5-0s, don’t worry about that.
”I know what’s happened. My eyes haven’t lied to me, it’s in my mind’s eye. I don’t need reminding, trust me.
”There are certain games I’ll watch back, for analysis. Or aspects of games, moments in games.
”Obviously, you look at how you’ve scored goals and stuff like that, but playing against Man City, what are you going to learn from the noughts? Not much.
“Of course you can learn something from them, but can you learn enough to beat them at their game - or change the way you want to to play them?
”You can watch them a hundred times, and not find a way to change things.
“And the players don’t need reminding of the previous results. They are going to get bombarded with those memories, on social media and the usual media outlets.
”They all know it, and they have to deal with it. I don’t need to mention what they’re up against, because it’s all around them.”
Sometimes it doesn’t matter whether you play good, bad or indifferently against City, they are just too strong, even when a man short!
And Dyche admitted: “Funnily enough, we were talking about one of the games this morning (in October 2018), up to about 30 minutes, I don’t think Popey had a save to make - the game where there was a really poor decision when they scored after the ball had gone out of play.
“You’re 3-0 down, and other than the possession, there hadn’t been much in the game.
“But that is Man City, that’s when you play the top, top sides.
“I remember sitting the office before a game after our second promotion, and Hull were playing Arsenal, at Hull, and were terrific.
“We went out for our team briefing, came back and Hull were 3-0 down, and we looked and said ‘Oh my goodness, what’s happened there?!”
“But that can be the Premier League, against the super elite, it’s calm, quiet, then boom, boom, boom, and the game’s got away from you.
“We’ve had a couple of those, and then it’s hard to retrieve.”
City are renowned for their possession-based game, rotation of positions and sheer quality, but Dyche feels their biggest weapon is when they haven’t got the ball: “I think one of Pep’s magical weapons has been working in transition, they see it early, not just the person next to the ball - five-yard fury as we call it - I’m talking about the whole team, they smell it.
“You give the ball away, and they pounce, Barcelona used to do it incredibly well, often Liverpool have as Jurgen Klopp got them to where he wanted, but Man City are superb at it.
“I always credit them not just for what they do with the ball, the work they do in transition, they press high, press well, zone into it and see it quickly, and that’s the key.
“If one of your players puts their head down, looks a bit loose, they don’t give you a chance to breathe.
“That’s personally their underlying magic weapon, how quick they react to get it back and affect it when you’ve got the ball.”
Teams are tested in terms of their organisation, concentration and bravery on the ball, but to beat City, you have to pose them problems as well, which Burnley have struggled to do of late, and Dyche noted: “Its tough, for a team that stays on the front foot for a lot of the game, like they do, with and without the ball, when you get your moments, you’ve got to make them count.
“When we’ve had results against them, and we have, 2-0 down there and got a 2-2, and we won at home when they were as quiet as I’ve seen them, and Aguero missed one right under the bar, and Boydy smashed one in the corner.
“You need those things to go your way, you have to play well, but the attacking side of it, you don’t get many chances but you have to make them count.”