First half display 'a long way short' admits Burnley boss Sean Dyche after defeat to Aston Villa
Sean Dyche felt his side "were a long way short" in a costly first half display against Aston Villa.
It was far from a happy New Year for the Clarets, as they turned in one of their more abject displays of the season, trailing 2-0 at the break to goals from Wesley and Jack Grealish - who also had one ruled out harshly by VAR.
Chris Wood pulled one back in the second half, but Burnley fell to a third-successive defeat, and sixth in eight, ahead of a testing run of fixtures.
Asked whether he got a performance from his players, Dyche said: "Definitely not, we were a long way short in the first half, which was a head-scratcher for me after such a strong performance second half against Manchester United.
"That doesn't guarantee the next one, but you expect when that feeling is in the group, and it was good in training, you expect a better first half than that.
"We were way short, in possession, out of possession, the detail, the bravery to play, the framework out of possession, the distances, and we got punished.
"Fair play to them, credit to them, they did punish us and took their chances well.
"Obviously a big reaction at half-time, but you can't wait in the Premier League.
"It looked like we were waiting for the game to come our way, as if that happens in the Premier League, and we've got an experienced group here, and I reminded them at the end that it doesn’t work like that.
"You have to go and get it, obviously second half there were clear signs of the difference, so I'm pleased with that, but it is difficult if you let teams score two goals against you."
You wondered whether Grealish's disallowed goal at 0-0 would act as a wake up call, and Dyche added: "Me and my staff were thinking, is that the thing. Sometimes is it, but It wasn’t really.
"First goal goes in, not a lot really. Bit of reaction, not a lot really.
"Dwighty knocked one on Woody's head at the back stick, 'okay, that's something'.
"But not enough of a reaction, not from any individual, the whole team, the whole feel of the team.
"Second half, no shouting and bawling, reminding them of what we do. Sometimes even changes of shape look weird for a player, but we beat Newcastle, Southampton, Watford, point at Wolves, five at the back, so I said 'lads, it is nothing to do with that, we have to get our performance levels right', and then we did second half and looked like we should look.
"We dominated the second half and finally scored a goal - 21 efforts at goal, two or three really good ones within that, but you can't go into the Premier League and play like we did first half."
Jay Rodriguez and Johann Berg Gudmundsson came on at half-time, but could they have started the game?: "Very close. Big decisions. Barnesy had been carrying an injury. He assured us he was fit, but didn’t look it. Brave in a way, brave and honest in a way, we know we've got that with our group.
"Robbie needs football, it's difficult, trying to get his eye in, get the details of what it is, in a team that wasn't playing well.
"I just felt it was right to make the changes and it did have an effect.
"We were stronger, not just because of the changes, the mentality of the performance grew.
"By the end, you might get a point, you might get away with it.
"VAR we had the double edge of it, with the first half, and then second half it is a penalty for me, his arm is in an unnatural position, Jay is probably seven or eight yards away when he hits it. But I don’t want to cry it in, because I am a fan of VAR. And I don't want to discredit them, they've been searching for an away win.
"I told the lads, 72% of their goals have been second half, they've only had one win in six, but you can’t give people a leg up."
In what was a third game in six days, were Dyche's players tired, given there had only been three changes to the side in that time?: "I don’t think so because second half we looked physically strong. Mental tiredness maybe? I just think we have a more experienced group than we had in the past so I said at the end, you can’t wait to be given things in the Premier League no matter who you're playing, top, middle or bottom.
"No one gives you a win, and it looked like everyone thought 'it'll be alright', waiting for someone else to take charge, but they didn't.
"Second half a big response, and I expected that, because they are an honest group.
"But we need more of that second half performance."