Dyche gets it right as assured Burnley beat Charlton

Burnley FC Burnley FC
Kevin Robinson March 2, 2013
You still stand by this comment? 2 years ago

Looking nothing like a team without a win in six, the Clarets were great value for their 1-0 win at the Valley, writes Kevin Robinson.

Accused of being afraid of changing things up recently, Sean Dyche made a real statement of intent ahead of kick-off at the Valley this afternoon by making five changes, predominantly in attack, to the side that lost in horrible fashion to an uninspired Huddersfield Town side at Turf Moor on Tuesday night.

The message from the manager was clear. Our recent form has been unacceptable, certain players have been well below par – and it ends now. Two changes were forced – Dean Marney and Chris McCann missing out through injury – but Keith Treacy, Danny Ings and Brian Stock were dropped to the bench. Dane Richards, the substitute who suffered the embarrassment of being hauled off due to poor performance midweek, didn’t even make the squad.

David Edgar partnered Marvin Bartley in the centre of midfield, while new signing Alex Kacaniklic made an immediate debut on the left wing and Martin Paterson and Junior Stanislas were recalled to form an almost entirely changed attacking unit to the one that had failed to find the net in over 300 minutes. Only Charlie Austin kept his place, but he has struggled to hit the heights that found him fame under Howe earlier in the season.

If it’s broke, fix it. And our attacking play certainly is broken. No longer the free-scoring side from the first half of the season, goals are about as rare as opposition clean-sheets were previously. But the problem is not simply personnel – though it is true that some individuals have underperformed, the explicit swing in priorities from attack to defence since Dyche’s arrival has undoubtedly stifled our offensive play.

The balance hasn’t been quite right of late, but you wouldn’t have known at Charlton. Almost throughout the whole game the Clarets created more, pushed more men forward and looked the more likely to score than the home side.

The bizarre and frustrating decision to play Austin almost in midfield behind lone-striker Pato almost paid off mid-way through the first 45 when the latter cooly slotted home a sharp Junior through-ball. I have criticised his composure recently but it really was a great finish and deserved more than to be ruled out for offside.

When the teams were announced it looked likely we would line up in a 4-4-2 formation, but in reality it was more like 4-2-3-1, and I am still to be convinced Austin should play so deep – he is a true poacher, feeding off scraps, and needs to be in the box at all times. Instead he spent much of the game closer to the half-way line than the goal and it’s really quite saddening to see his abilities wasted back there.

Before Austin scored the game’s only goal with a superb strike with first-half added-time looming we created countless chances, albeit without anything to really test goalkeeper David Button. It almost didn’t matter that the end product was lacking, however, the quality of our buildup play and confident attitude provided more than enough encouragement that it would come.

In start contrast to recent weeks, we moved forward with great belief and purpose, using both wings well as the full-backs overlapped regularly and Junior and Kacaniklic caused trouble with clever footwork. Whatever Dyche has said to them since Tuesday, it worked.

Despite all this it really should have been Charlton who opened the scoring, three forwards inexplicably missed the ball only a couple of yards from goal with Lee Grant helpless. Had either made contact we’d have been a goal behind. In a rare flashback to earlier form our back line had fallen asleep – we really shouldn’t have allowed three men so much space unchallenged in front of goal – but we got that bit of luck you sometimes need.

Instead, the opening goal was fitting of the creative football Burnley played and was more than deserved. A real solo effort, Charlie Austin picked the ball up deep in the Charlton half and unleashed a wicked shot into the top corner of Button’s goal. It was struck with such force and accuracy the ‘keeper had no chance of getting close and fans and players celebrated with similar ecstasy, knowing we would almost certainly head in at the break ahead.

If Burnley were playing with belief, the same could not be said for the visitors and it got worse for them after the break. Their home record is abysmal and they clearly reacted poorly to the vocal abuse thrown their way early in the second half. Any concentration seemed to slip away as they felt the pressure, one unopposed defender completely missed a header while Button found himself stranded in no-mans-land having wandered too far from goal during a Burnley attack.

Our own attacking tendencies were shrinking too, though, as we looked to hold on to our lead. Kacaniclic went on a mazy run, dribbling past several defenders on his way from half-way to the penalty area before falling over after one challenge too many. It was a move almost identical to Wade Elliott’s at Wembley, but without anybody there to give him the ball back the move ended there this time.

With 15 minutes on the clock we had already had our last forage forward and it was now time to shut up shop and sit it out. Charlton sent Leon Cort up to play as a striker, before the rest of the team joined in to what must have been a 1-9 formation. With five added on, this meant 20 minutes of backs-against-the-wall squeaky-bum-time – much longer than my nerves were comfortable with. It was nervy, but we coped well and saw the game out to the end.

The second half might not have been anywhere near as entertaining as the first, but overall it was a very professional performance from Burnley. It wasn’t perfect – we still lack a spark up front, the offside strike and that moment of genius from Austin aside we never really troubled Button, and we were undoubtedly helped by Charlton’s really poor performance – but it was much improved from us and the result will silence those fears of a relegation fight that were beginning to creep up.

David Edgar was outstanding in midfield and Lee Grant pulled off two excellent saves. Paterson looked much sharper than usual, and Kacaniklic showed lots of promise. Most notably, though, was the way we attacked with real intent. It wasn’t Howe-esque and keeping things tight at the back remained a priority, but the changes Dyche made to the line-up and tactics allowed us to offer a stronger threat up top than we have been used to of late.

The gaffer sent a message out before the game, this was the end of our bad form and the start of renewed success. It has started perfectly – now it needs to continue.

Are we rid of any relegation risk now? Did Dyche get it right, or were we lucky? Comment below.

  • Wilson97

    Last season the teams relegated was portsmouth doncaster and coventry the highest points of those 3 was 40 so i think its fair to assume all relegation fears are dead unless we lose every game now till end of the season.. kacanaklic? seemed to have impressed greatly and the new type of play i heard burnley was playing sounds exciting and all but has dyche left it too late?

    • Kevin Robinson
      Kevin Robinsonin reply to Wilson97

      Kacaniklic played well. He’s very creative, but his effectiveness was curbed by having no understanding with his teammates. He only met them yesterday, so that’s understandable and I’m looking forward to seeing how he does having played and training with them.

      Too late? Yeah, probably.

      • Wilson97in reply to Kevin Robinson

        Im excited at the prospect of seeing him play on tuesday! he seems to be alot like eagles was? and unless we go on a run like bournemouth we have no chance.

        • Kevin Robinsonin reply to Wilson97

          I think Eagles is a good comparison, aye!

  • Michael Connell

    Austin as a number 10? Absolutely no chance.

    • Jamie Smith
      Jamie Smithin reply to Michael Connell

      I agree, but his goal came from that kind of position…

  • Doug

    Real shame about Richards, Hope he gets another chance. Glad to hear positive things about Pato, Edgar and Kacaniklic though

    • Kevin Robinson
      Kevin Robinsonin reply to Doug

      I’m not a big fan of Pato at all but he was sharper than ususal yesterday and took his ‘goal’ very, very well.

  • Vince

    A much-needed win and a great result but I am yet to be convinced by Dyche. It appears when he took over from Howe he looked at the number of goals we concede and thought ‘Right, I’m going to tighten up at the back’. But it’s not as simple as that. There was not a cat in Hell’s chance we would have been relegated under Howe because, being an attacking team, we would easily have won enough games; although we may also have lost a few more too. Actually, my thoughts are, Howe was just bedding the team down and it’s a real pity he couldn’t stick around to see the squad flourish.
    Dyche is, without a doubt, a downgrade from Howe and his overly-aggressive approach will, I fear, wear thin with players over time. We’ll see how many stick around in the summer. I’m pretty sure looking to the next few seasons, Dyche will never take us down but I am equally certain his brand of football will not enable the kind of run mid-table sides sometimes go on to make the play-offs.
    It’s only an impression, but Dyche just smacks of ‘lower league manager’ to me. Time will tell, I guess.

    • Kevin Robinson
      Kevin Robinsonin reply to Vince

      Fair point, although we did set up more attacking than usual yesterday.

    • Wilson97in reply to Vince

      But we win more? agreed it was more enjoyable to watch eddie howe’s burnley play but facts are facts sean dyche is a step up from eddie, i would much rather watch us score 1 goal a game if it means we will win. His overly aggressive approach seems to be paying off and good players like shackell and stanislas have flourished under dyche where eddie had failed. The contract situation was innevitable our players were always going to leave unless they sign new contracts, eddie would of had the same problem and tbh i believe dyche will handle the situation better with his “sign players we need” approach over eddies howes “he seems like a good player” approach look what happened to dane richards? agreed neither will get us to the playoffs but it seems more likely under dyche than howe! opinions are opinons i guess..

      • Vincein reply to Wilson97

        You still stand by this comment?