We’ve seen it so many times before from Sean Dyche’s Clarets, displaying substance over style. Burnley have won countless football games under the auspices of the Burnley gaffer following a scrappy, hard-fought game settled by a single goal from a set piece.
Yesterday evening’s victory over fellow strugglers Sheffield United was never in anyone’s wildest imagination going to be a manifestation of the “beautiful game,” but it epitomised everything about the resilient, relentless nature of Dyche’s Burnley.
Points not performance was the overriding consideration for both clubs, who quite simply had to emerge from the game with three points. Burnley did so, by simply being Burnley.
Acquiring points from such fixtures is hard-wired into the DNA of every Burnley player and those supporters of other clubs who take to social media (usually after their team has lost to Burnley) with derogatory comments such as “How can you watch that every week?” miss the point; Burnley fans acknowledge and admire the sheer effort required from each of those players in order to take points off teams with deeper pockets and greater resources.
We admire too, the organisation, discipline and bravery those players show in delivering what Sean Dyche demands of them. Fans of other clubs may be stirred by slick passing moves and graceful ball skills; we are happy to applaud blocked shots, tackles and interceptions.
That said, it is hard not to feel some pangs of sorrow for Chris Wilder and his beleaguered Sheffield United squad; without a win all season and ravaged by injuries and Covid, it must feel as though the whole world is against you.
But the Premier League is no place in which to look for sympathy and Burnley’s need for three points was just as great as the Blades.
Most of the pertinent action took place in the first half; a splendid save from Blades’ keeper Ramsdale to deny a close-range effort from Ashley Barnes was an early highlight. A little later a Sheffield corner was headed goal-wards but cleared off the line by Josh Brownhill. VAR checked to establish whether Brownhill’s arm or chest had affected the clearance, the conclusion was the latter.
The virtue of having Brownhill stationed on the line for set-pieces was further vindicated shortly afterwards, when Sheffield chose to dispense with that precaution and left their far post unmanned.
Robbie Brady swung his corner towards that far post where Ben Mee rose between three Blades’ defenders to guide a header into the corner of the net.
It was a finish which required a high degree of skill from the Burnley skipper; under pressure, leaning backwards and stretching his neck muscles to ensure that the contact he made with the ball would be sufficient to steer it past Ramsdale and into the net.
For the remainder of the game, Sheffield enjoyed large chunks of possession without really being able to pierce Burnley’s protective wall of defenders and seriously threaten Nick Pope’s goal.
David McGoldrick represented a consistent threat for the Blades, he is strong and skilful and would look good in a Claret and Blue kit - new owners please take note.
In conclusion, a typical cut-and-paste Burnley performance, a case of never mind the quality, count the points. Three valuable points have elevated Burnley five points away from the relegation zone and as Brighton and West Brom were being beaten whilst Burnley were winning, yesterday was a really good day for the Clarets.
A happier Dave Thornley reflects on another gritty Burnley performance, Covid permitting I hope he records another one after the Cottagers leave Burnley following our next home game. (TEC).