Saturday 23 September 2017

Dyche bemused by United criticism

Dean Marney will miss the rest of the season with a cruciate ligament injury
Dean Marney will miss the rest of the season with a cruciate ligament injury
Sean Dyche is baffled by Manchester United being labelled a long-ball side

Sean Dyche reacted with incredulity to criticism of Manchester United for being a long-ball team.

The jibe came from West Ham boss Sam Allardyce after the 1-1 draw between the sides on Sunday and prompted Louis van Gaal to produce a dossier of statistics at his press conference on Tuesday.

Burnley visit Old Trafford on Wednesday, and Dyche will certainly not be making similar comments.

The Clarets boss said: "I find it incredible, the whole thing.

"I think back to my youth and a player then who was renowned was Glenn Hoddle. Was he renowned for playing five and 10-yard passes? No he wasn't. Was Ronald Koeman renowned for playing five and 10-yard passes? He was marvelled at.

"I'm looking at Man Utd's team - I think they're capable of playing the ball more than five or 10 yards, and probably accurately and probably with some style.

"I'm certainly not questioning whether they're a long-ball side or not. I think it's a bizarre debate."

The trip to Old Trafford is the start of a formidable run of fixtures for Burnley, who headed into the midweek programme one point above the relegation zone.

Over the next two months they also face Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Tottenham and Arsenal, but Dyche is undaunted.

"This is the reality of the league," he said. "You've got to play everyone home and away. How they fall is irrelevant.

"It's the challenge we all wanted. I want it, the players want it, the town wanted it, the club wanted it. You can't then go, 'Oh, they're big games against big clubs'. Yes they are and that's exactly what we were expecting."

Burnley's hopes of surviving the drop were dealt a blow on Tuesday with the news key midfielder Dean Marney will miss the rest of the season after damaging his cruciate knee ligament.

The 31-year-old, who has played nearly 200 matches in close to five years at Turf Moor, suffered the injury during Sunday's 2-2 draw with West Brom.

The incident appeared innocuous but scans confirmed Burnley's worst fears and an unwanted hat-trick.

Marney joins defender Kevin Long, who suffered the same injury last month, in the treatment room, while striker Sam Vokes missed the start of the season as he recovered from a ruptured cruciate.

Dyche said: "It's amazing that we've had three cruciate injuries in a year and all of them anomalies. Deano thought he might be able to run it off such was his desire to continue.

"We feel for Deano and ourselves because he's done very well over a number of years. We know he'll get the right support here and him and Longy will be good mates over the next few months."

The timing is especially cruel coming just a week after the end of the January transfer window, during which Dyche tried and failed to strengthen his central midfield options.

He said: "We had two deals that were agreed and the clubs decided not to do them. Then it's just an unbelievable turn of events that someone gets such a serious injury a week later. We've been light in central midfield for a long time now."

Wednesday's game, meanwhile, gives defender Michael Keane an early opportunity to return to Old Trafford.

The 22-year-old joined Burnley on loan from United in September before making the switch permanent to become Dyche's only January signing.

His last appearance in a United shirt came in the embarrassing 4-0 defeat by MK Dons in August and, with the boot now on the other foot, he is hoping it will be another uncomfortable evening for Van Gaal.

Keane said: "I'm really looking forward to it. I was there for ages and I've got a lot of friends there, a lot of people I'm looking forward to seeing, but the main thing is I'm going with Burnley and hoping to get a result.

"It was a big decision to leave. When I first came here on loan I would have got games there so I was a bit gutted and disappointed.

"When I made myself permanent at Burnley, while I was really happy I had the opportunity to do that, there is a little bit of you that's disappointed you haven't made it at United.

"But it's something I've moved on from now and I'm just looking ahead."

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