Saturday 15 December 2018

Dyche seethes over simulation but slick City show genuine class

Nick Pope clips Bernardo Silva Photo: Getty
Nick Pope clips Bernardo Silva Photo: Getty

Ben Findon

Burnley manager Sean Dyche says he fears for the moral values of the game after witnessing a hotly-disputed penalty that set Manchester City on the way to a 3-0 win and a five-point lead in the Premier League.

Dyche's battlers had held firm until just before the half-hour mark, when City's Bernardo Silva appeared to slip a foot under Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope's knee and then go sprawling.

It was a borderline decision, and when referee Roger East gave it City's way, enraged Burnley defender James Tarkowski fumed at Bernardo, whose team-mate Leroy Sane rushed to intervene.

Once yellow cards had been served on Tarkowski and Sane, Sergio Aguero stepped up to roll in the penalty. That took him level with all-time leading City goalscorer Eric Brook on 177 goals, but somehow history lessons were not going to be the day's main subject.

"I mean this sincerely," Dyche said. "If your kid cheated in a maths test, you wouldn't go, 'well done'. You'd say, 'what are you doing?' You'd go down the school and say, 'sorry, he cheated, he needs to do that again'.

"But weirdly, in football it's almost like, 'good lad'. I find that really weird. Accidental simulation, as they call it, that happens. There are too many in the league to be accidental. It's the moral values of the game I worry about."

Dyche admitted that East had been presented with a difficult call.

"Today was a tough one, it was right on the margins," he added.

"But I don't want him falling on the floor and all that."

Burnley's unbeaten away record was swept away at the Etihad, where City's firepower overwhelmed the visitors in the closing stages, with goals from Nicolas Otamendi and Sane. Dyche, however, felt the penalty controversy was far from East's only wrong call.

"Jack Cork gets a great foot in and free-kick. Robbie Brady gets a great foot in and free-kick. Not for us, by the way," he said.

"We had two breakaways in the first-half, and everyone in the stadium was shocked that he brought it back. We were on the counter and he gave a free-kick 20 yards back. It's hard to fathom."

Dyche, however, had few complaints over the final outcome, as City ultimately eased to their 11th successive win with another free-flowing and domineering performance.

Burnley lost 2-1 at the Etihad last January and Dyche found it easy to pinpoint key improvements in Pep Guardiola's City side.

"The way they work collectively without the ball has improved," said the visiting manager.

"They crunch the pitch. The back line is brave and gets higher. The play is more fluid. It's the nitty gritty side of the game they're doing better at."

One of the exemplars of City's bravery is goalkeeper Ederson, who threw himself at Burnley striker Chris Wood's feet to smother a first-half chance.

Ederson required eight stitches after collecting a high boot from Liverpool's Sadio Mane at the Etihad in September, but the Brazilian is clearly undaunted by the physical challenges the Premier League has to offer.

"It's the way I play," said the £35 million summer recruit from Benfica.

"If I have to put my hand, my head, my foot there to help the team, that's what I'm going to do. It's part of the game.

"I have always played the same way. I have no fear of anything. I knew how physical the game is here, how strong and all the tackles. So I wasn't surprised."

Guardiola said: "We are going to lose games, of course. I am happy for 11 wins in a row because it shows we can win a lot of games in a row, but if you ask if we can finish unbeaten, I say that cannot happen.

"There are a lot of games, and there will be a moment when we go down.

"But at that moment, I will be curious to test myself and the players on how we react, because sometimes we must be warriors." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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