Burnley boss Sean Dyche on Jay Rodriguez and Matej Vydra’s ‘excellent connection’

Sean Dyche is renowned for his preference for two strikers.

Tuesday, 25th February 2020, 2:21 pm
Updated Tuesday, 25th February 2020, 2:23 pm
Matej Vydra celebrates with Ashley Westwood and Jay Rodriguez

Over the last decade, or more, the top sides have often opted to use one forward, and some sides even a false nine at times.

But Dyche has always looked to get two, and sometimes three, centre forwards into his teams, putting more value in the players at the cutting edge.

He said earlier this season: “A lot has been made of me playing two centre forwards, but I think centre forwards are the best players, in that it’s the hardest job, so if there are two of them, commonsensically it gives you at least somewhat of a better chance.”

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Back then, he was talking about the partnership between Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes, which proved a profitable one in terms of goals.

In their absence through injury, however, Jay Rodriguez and Matej Vydra have struck up something of an understanding, scoring three goals between them in the wins at Southampton and at home to Bournemouth.

Dyche doesn’t just want two strikers on the pitch - there has to be chemistry between them, and, with Rodriguez and Vydra, that has been evident.

Dyche said: “When you play two up front, for me, you can’t play them as individuals.

“They have got to connect. If not I wouldn’t play two up front...

“They have to understand how they can affect the opposition.

“If it is two individuals playing like individuals, I don’t think there is much worth in it.

“If they are two individuals playing together, I think there is a lot of worth in it.

“They had a couple of golden chances (against Bournemouth), but we are happy with one apiece and a 3-0 victory.

“Both team players as well, Jay puts a lot of effort in for the team and has a real team mentality which underlines his own performances.”

He added: "I thought some of their link play second half was excellent, I always think when two centre forwards are linking together, it's a very powerful thing, it's hard to play against, when they literally link.

"Their connection was excellent.

"Dwighty probably takes it second half, but the connection, some of their clever play and awareness of each other I was really pleased with.

"There were signs of that last week, but it was obvious today.”

Vydra, as has been well documented, has had to be patient for his opportunity, but his last two outings have shone a light on what he offers - that ability to run in behind and stretch teams, and also his technical ability, being able to beat a man in tight situations in the box.

Dyche smiled: "If you think back, I've always mentioned him among the four strikers, but we have three other really top strikers, facts and stats tell you that as well.

"Vyds has had to wait, to earn the right, sit and wait for his chance, and that's sometimes the way it is.

"The best thing for me is he's working for his chance. He came on at Southampton and affected the game, brilliant goal, but also his general play.

"Today he worked off the ball, stretched the pitch, which we know he can do, and he's been effective. He's given them something to worry about.

"That's an added bonus. Their centre halves will be thinking he's got pace, strength, and his finish is sublime.

"So, I'm pleased for him because he's been waiting and waiting for his chance, but he's delivered twice now, so fair play.”

Rodriguez has proved a good foil for Wood, Barnes and Vydra, showing his football intelligence and versatility.

Dyche has long been an admirer: "I remember being with Malky (Mackay) at Watford and we thought Jay was an excellent young footballer.

“All it is with Jay is he's got Premier League fit and sharp, which takes time.

"With all due respect to the Championship, it's a different platform to work from.

“The Premier League fitness isn't just physical, it's up here, and he looks like he's getting his eye in again.

"His sharpness, movement, anticipation - we know he's a good player, that's why we bought him.”