It's about substance over style for Atletico Madrid defender Kieran Trippier as he laughs off Burnley's 'anti-football' tag
Diego Simeone’s Champions League quarter-finalists came in for heavy criticism last week following a more defence-minded display against Liverpool at Anfield last Wednesday night.
The holders owned more than 70% of the ball, lined up 45 shots [11 on target] at Jan Oblak’s goal, but lost 4-2 to the visitors on aggregate, having shipped three goals in extra-time.
Reds boss Jurgen Klopp said after the second leg: “I don’t understand with the quality they have, the football they play.
“They could play proper football but they stand deep and have counterattacks.”
That word “proper” caused a stir, with a big debate played out in the media.
But, on occasions, teams have to take a sensible approach into games, opting for substance over style, in an attempt to come away with the desired outcome.
As Sean Dyche often reminds us, it’s about finding a way to win.
Dyche is no zealot to style, preferring a mixed brand of football – trying to hurt teams as many ways as possible.
“People have this perception that we’re a defensive side, but I think they’re getting too carried away with the way we played against Liverpool,” said Trippier.
“If you go there and go toe-to-toe with Liverpool you’re going to get beat 6-0.
“I don’t know what people expect.
“You see pundits complaining because we did defend, but did they expect us to go there and play attacking football, especially with Liverpool playing the way that they’re playing at the moment?
“You need to go there with a plan and we did that.
“We did have to defend, but the most important thing is that we got the win.”
He added: “Football’s not all about playing a certain way, every team can’t do that.
“You can’t expect teams to go there [Anfield] and go man-for-man because you’ll get crucified.
“You’ll get smashed.
“We knew they would blow up because of the amount of pressure they’d applied and the amount of energy they’d put into the game.
“We knew they’d slow down.
“It took us over 100 minutes, but we won 3-2.
“People can complain as much as they want, but we thought it was necessary for that type of game.
“As I’ve got older it has stopped bothering me.
“Liverpool didn’t put their chances away and we beat them in both legs. It worked.”
Trippier endured the same rhetoric at Turf Moor during two-and-a-bit seasons under boss Sean Dyche, even when they finished runners up to Leicester City in the Championship to win promotion to the top flight.
The narrative has barely ever changed.
A 23-game unbeaten run during the 2015/16 campaign and a seventh place finish in the Premier League in 2017/18 couldn’t even stem the negative jibes.
The Clarets, though, currently 10th in the table, have proved to be effective and are now on course to score a fifth successive term among England’s elite.
Trippier said: “Look at Burnley over the years under Sean Dyche, even when I was there, people complained about the way they played, but they get results and that is what football is about.
“When you’re in the Premier League, you can’t expect Burnley to match Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea.
“Burnley have a specific way of playing and it works because they get results and it keeps them in the Premier League.
“They’re difficult to play against.
“Do you expect Sean Dyche to play the Pep Guardiola way?
“It wouldn’t work, it’s impossible.
“People like Sean Dyche and Chris Wilder deserve more credit.
He added: “Look at Bournemouth - they play the way they do and they concede goals.
“Even when I was at Burnley under Eddie Howe we tried playing out from the back and we were conceding three/four a game, but we’d score three/four a game.
“For me I’d rather keep a clean sheet and nick a 1-0.
“People can complain about Burnley’s style, Atletico’s style, but it keeps you in the Premier League and it gets us into the Champions League.
“That’s all that matters.
“I’ve been at Burnley, I know what it’s like, I know how it feels, they just want to stay in the Premier League.”