Burnley boss Sean Dyche finds a way to get by without his everyday essentials
Sean Dyche’s threadbare Burnley squad resembles the scene inside a supermarket when panic had set in amid the pandemic.
The early days of shopper’s stockpiling ‘key’ items left shelves sparsely populated, with very little in reserve. Just like Dyche’s group.
Everyday essentials weren’t accessible down the aisles, as they haven’t been at Turf Moor.
Leading scorer Chris Wood along with fellow strikers Jay Rodriguez and Ashley Barnes weren’t in stock for the trip to Selhurst Park.
Neither were Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Robbie Brady or Matt Lowton while the likes of Joe Hart, Jeff Hendrick and Aaron Lennon had been discontinued.
It’s no wonder then that the Clarets chief hailed the 1-0 win over Crystal Palace on Monday evening as one of the ‘biggest results’ of his reign.
Burnley were down to the bone in terms of numbers.
Four of five outfield players on the bench carried an average age of 19-and-a-bit and between them they’d seen a couple of minutes of action for the club.
But Dyche, like many during the Covid-19 outbreak, didn’t get caught up in the alarm or hysteria. He simply found a way to get by with the resources at his disposal.
The Eagles, on the other hand, were able to call on goalkeeper Vicente Guaita and in-demand Wilfried Zaha after the pair passed late fitness tests.
“It’s certainly up there as one of the biggest results I’ve had as a manager here, for the reasons that we’re so stretched, we’re playing a lot of football, commitment to the cause, but also some of the football was excellent,” said Dyche in his post match interview.
Time and time again Burnley’s credentials have been questioned.
Time and time again they’ve responded in the right manner.
This was the 119th league win of Dyche’s tenure, the 39th by a 1-0 scoreline, and a 102nd clean sheet.
With little or no room for manoeuvre, this was the third game in a week for nine of Dyche’s soldiers.
Yet the home side weren’t able to threaten Nick Pope’s advantage in the race for the Golden Glove as Burnley’s rearguard proved impenetrable for a 13th time this term.
Once again Burnley’s band of brothers put their bodies on the line to give themselves the best chance of preserving Ben Mee’s opener.
In total they made 34 clearances and 21 blocks to neuter Palace’s threat, but that doesn’t tell half the tale. To a man the Clarets were disciplined, organised and determined.
Even the withdrawal of Jack Cork, who picked up an injury after covering a tremendous amount of ground, failed to disrupt the away side’s structure and resolve.
For 20 minutes, in a makeshift shape following the introduction of Kevin Long, they showed the value of their ‘Legs, Hearts, Minds’ mantra.
They were encouraged and inspired by their leader, who had netted his first goal in two-and-a-half years just after the hour mark.
The skipper threw himself at Ashley Westwood’s set-piece - as Rodriguez had when converting Dwight McNeil’s delivery just days earlier - to break the deadlock.
Guaita got a touch to the header, on Mee’s 300th league appearance for the Clarets, but the Spaniard couldn’t prevent the ball from going in off the inside of the post.
Burnley’s 100th away goal in the Premier League propelled them into eighth in the table, level on points with Spurs, as talk of Europe resurfaced.
With six games left, Dyche’s side are just nine points short of matching the 54-point haul that they achieved in 2017/18.
They now welcome Sheffield United to Turf Moor on Sunday.