Burnley boss Sean Dyche on honesty, diving and penalties - "Eventually you say, ‘I can’t cost my own players.’ And it is costing us."

Sean Dyche reluctantly has effectively come round to thinking 'if you can't beat 'em, join 'em!'

Friday, 9th April 2021, 10:30 pm
Sean Dyche
Sean Dyche

Dyche has for long been a lone voice in the battle against simulation - or to put it more simply, diving and cheating - in football, and the Premier League in particular.

Six years ago, with Burnley fighting the drop back to the Championship, he revealed a prominent manager had told him to "move with the times" in order to win fouls and penalties, and Dyche insisted: “It’s not my belief. You should play the game properly.

“We want to play football and we want to win games and we want to do it in the right manner.

“I see it constantly in this league, more so than I ever thought I would.

“At this level we have been naive at times, in the right way, and that’s sad, sad that players just can’t go out and play and get decisions that they should get.”

He was pleased when the FA decided to introduce retrospective action for diving at the start of the 2017/18 season, saying:"It’s something I’ve felt strongly about for a while. For the good of the game it has got to go.

"From what I’ve picked up I think it’s implying it will be key moments, but I’m talking about cheating across the board.

"People diving in front of the dugout as much as in the box. It’s all got to go."

However, the initiative failed to clamp down on a blight on the sport, and, instead, Dyche feels it has got to the stage where he is penalising his players by asking them to stay honest.

Last week at Southampton, Burnley, 3-2 down at St Mary's, were denied a blatant penalty when Jan Bednarek almost tore the shirt off Chris Wood's back, but the striker stayed on his feet as long as he could before directing a diving header at goal, which was saved by Fraser Forster.

Pundits up and down the land were staggered Andre Marriner or VAR didn't see fit to intervene, and Dyche admits his stance on his players staying on their feet is changing.

Asked whether the battle has been lost, he said: "You need people to be bothered enough, and I don’t think people are.

"I am surprised over the years how fans are not, but they don’t seem to be.

"Eventually you say, ‘I can’t cost my own players.’

"And it is costing us.

"Historically, our players don’t go down, they don’t go down easily or screaming and rolling.

"There comes a time when they look at you thinking, ‘gaffer, we’re not getting anything here. Do we keep trying to do the right thing and get nothing', which in theory could cost you.

"We’ve got the lowest record every season in the Premier League for penalties, apart from one I think.

"In an era when penalties are given for blowing in someone’s ear, we have to do a lot to get a penalty."

Burnley actually got a second Premier League penalty of the season before the Wood incident, with Erik Pieters brought down by Kyle Walker-Peters, although it took the referee to witness the incident again at length on a screen on halfway, and Dyche added: "Last week is a good example.

"With the first one on Erik, I was thinking ‘Are they almost trying not to give us one?’ They had to go to the monitor and they didn’t need to as it was a penalty all day.

"I love football but it confuses me now. The rules and rhymes and reasons are forever confusing to me.

"What people want and expect out of football is bizarre, the value in it for children, it’s just bizarre.

"Eventually you have to hold your hands up and say ‘Well lads you’re right, I can’t cost yours or my livelihood because you don’t fall on the floor.’

"I don’t tell them that, but if they do it, I’ll say no-one else cares, so we’ll just have to let you do what you did."