Dyche dismisses potential pitfalls of the Europa League

Date published: Saturday 14th April 2018 6:04

Sean Dyche would have no qualms about welcoming the potential pitfalls of Europa League football.

Burnley are now red-hot favourites to claim seventh spot in the Premier League after beating their nearest rivals Leicester 2-1 at Turf Moor to open up a nine-point gap with only five games left.

Provided Southampton do not pull off a highly unlikely FA Cup triumph, seventh will be enough to secure European football, something Burnley have not experienced for more than 50 years.

Dyche’s remarkable success has been built on a small, tight squad and meticulous preparation, things that would be severely tested by the Europa League.

But Dyche said: “How can there be a negative? Five-and-a-half years ago we were 16th in the Championship. It’s impossible for there to be a negative.

“For Burnley Football Club even to be spoken about, it’s a long, long way from where we were, it’s a long, long way from where we were at the end of last season. We’ll see where it goes. We’re in very good shape.”

Burnley could not have made a better start to such an important game, going two up inside nine minutes through former Leicester striker Chris Wood and defender Kevin Long.

The remaining 80 minutes were much trickier, with Leicester having 15 shots in total to Burnley’s eight and more than 60 per cent possession, but all they had to show for it was Jamie Vardy’s 72nd-minute consolation.

“We’ve had to work for everything today,” said Dyche, whose side made it five consecutive top-flight wins for the first time since 1968.

“I thought (we had) a very fast start, a pretty decent first half, and then second half we started well, but 2-0 is a funny scoreline, especially at this stage of the season. They’ve got nothing to lose and they played like that.

“Credit to Leicester, the last half-an-hour if not more they were excellent. It’s very difficult to get five wins on the trot so I’m very pleased overall.”

Both managers had quibbles with referee Martin Atkinson, who turned down two Burnley penalty appeals in a matter of moments in the second half.

It is now a year since the Clarets were awarded a spot-kick, and Dyche said: “It’s impossible, or at least improbable in modern football. I’m not going to go there, there’s no point. It might be like in Comedy Capers, where they pull a club out and bang them on the head, and then we might get one.”

Leicester boss Claude Puel, meanwhile, felt Ashley Barnes should have been shown red rather than yellow for a challenge on Kasper Schmeichel that meant the goalkeeper had to be replaced.

“I think maybe the player deserved another colour of card, but I hope we can have Kasper for the next game,” he said.

Puel admitted his side’s hopes of European football are now hanging by a thread but was happy with the response to their poor start.

“I think it will be, I don’t say a miracle, but they (Burnley) are in a good position of course now,” he said. “I think except the first 10 minutes it was a good performance. It was crazy to have all the chances and to finish with one goal.

“At the beginning we made things easy for the opposition. I was surprised because there was good concentration before the game and to concede these two goals so quickly, it was difficult to accept. For me it’s not a fair result but I would like to send all my congratulations to Sean and his squad.”

 


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