Burnley boss Sean Dyche - first half performance was ‘unacceptable’

Sean Dyche at Bramall Lane
Sean Dyche at Bramall Lane

Sean Dyche admitted his side were as poor as they have been since their struggles in the first half of last season, as they slumped to a 3-0 defeat at newly-promoted Sheffield United.

The Clarets were simply not at the races as they shipped three soft goals, two right on the stroke of half-time, as the Blades effectively put the game to bed.

Dyche made one change at the break - accepting he could have replaced his entire defence - as Charlie Taylor came on for Erik Pieters, but Burnley were unable to hurt the hosts after the break, as United squandered more opportunities to make the scoreline embarrassing.

Asked what was the most disappointing aspect, he said: “First half, probably everything, other than not getting a couple of decisions, which might have got us out of jail - and it would have been getting us out of jail by the way, to make that clear.

“They started better than us, more aggressive in their manner, their body language, on the front foot, more energy, more commitment to the cause, and that remained throughout the first half.

“We made mistakes, they capitalised on it, and we don’t want that to become a habit after last week.

“It was as poor a showing we’ve had since early last season, first half.

“But Sheffield United were excellent, they forced us into mistakes, they pressed, they had a good shape, and good energy and played with that edge which you have to have in the Premier League.

“You can never come away from that. Maybe the fact they’re still new to it, the excitement of it, and I said to the players, you never lose that, you need that edge every time you play, and we were miles off it first half.

“Maybe, Jay Rod gets clipped, we’ve seen them given, though we don’t get many of them - people keep talking about these tiny contacts and he gets one and doesn’t dive, falls naturally, appeals and doesn’t get it.

“And I think the handball is handball, and I think everyone else would expect it. But I need to be clear, that would have got us out of jail, we were miles off first half and they were miles better than us.”

Dyche added: “We need to turn it around because the first half is unacceptable. Second half we get a tiny bit of credit in that we kept going and tried to do the right things, certainly more so than in the first half.

”We dealt with the ball better but to many way off the mark in the first half and not just with energy and desire but with the ball as well.

”We knocked it forward without any thought and you want simple things without the ball.”

Dyche felt his players were a bit unsure how to handle going to a Premier League newcomer, with many expecting them to get a result, due to their experience at this level: “I said to the players afterwards, part of our growth is when we’re kind of favourites, to grow with that.

“That underdog spirit we’ve had in the past is still there, but I felt we came here with a little bit of expectation on us, that we should go and win against Sheffield United, and we played like that, as if we weren’t quite sure, should we, shouldn’t we...too dismissive with the ball as well, not the energy, the quality, the shape, the basics, and they delivered the basics well.”

Sheffield United’s 3-5-2 formation, with overlapping centre backs, has caused a stir over the last couple of seasons, and Burnley had no answer.

Dyche felt the systems were not the deciding factor though: “No, it’s nothing to do with tactics today, second half we gave as good as we got I thought, we affected it a bit, at least there was a response, but it was nothing to do with tactics, we were just miles off where we’ve been.

“And miles off where we’ve been this season, to be fair, we had a similar half down at Brighton but got away with it when we were poor. But we were poor first half by our standards, and you can’t do that in the Premier League, no matter who you’re playing against.”

Asked whether he could have made more than one change at the break, he added: “I could have changed anyone in the back four, I could have changed numerous people. It’s certainly not down to one change, nothing of the sort.

“You also sometimes want to give the players chance to respond, and there was a response, a modicum of pride comes back, Barnesy has a chance, and you never know, if he spins and hogs that one in, it becomes that weirdness.

“But the big one for me, the third goal summed it up, a poor ball out, poor ball off, poor decision, and they go through the back and roll it in.

“Miles off when your brain’s not working, and it certainly wasn’t for the three goals.”