"It's outstanding what he continues to deliver" - Burnley boss Sean Dyche on Dwight McNeil
While Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold and Harvey Elliott commanded the national headlines at Anfield on Saturday, Dwight McNeil’s performance went under the radar. But not at Turf Moor.
England right back Alexander-Arnold was named man of the match after being involved in creating seven chances for the Reds, with one assist, while 18-year-old Elliott impressed on his full Premier League debut for the club.
But while Alexander-Arnold was a threat going forward, McNeil tormented him going the other way, beating him time and again one on one, creating openings for Chris Wood and himself.
He also made a big block from Mohamed Salah to deny a certain goal, and boss Sean Dyche said: “I’m a massive fan of Dwight as everyone knows, people sometime forget – some of these new guys come on the scene and play a couple of games, but Dwight’s been knocking out game after game after game for two and a half seasons.
“When you look at it that way, it’s outstanding what he continues to deliver.
“It’s just maybe not as striking, you get a player coming through at Man United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, and it just has that little bit more gloss to it, people jump on it a little bit quicker, and I understand why, of course.
“I don’t think Dwight is too worried about that, he knows he’s recognised and respected here, that’s for sure, and he knows we’re still pushing him for more as well.
"But it can be a more difficult task in a side like ours, we don't always have the ball, we're fighting and working hard to try and win Premier League games.
"Now and again we're really on it, Wolves was the outstanding one last season, when we had more of the ball, more positions with a better quality chance.
"On Saturday he was excellent, you don't have the ball as much and have to do the other side of things diligently, and when you get the ball, you have to do something with it.
"Apart from a little quiet spell when the whole team had a quiet spell, I thought he had a very strong performance with and without the ball."
McNeil was also on hand in his position on the post to twice clear against Brighton last week, and Dyche added: “We ask a lot of all our players, and he plays his part within that, and it won’t do him any harm.
“I’ve always said that, you need to know how the game works defensively, have an ability to work hard, to see the picture – he’s still earning that, but that’s a good thing to have in your locker, alongside talent.
“He’s come back really fit, he’s a fit lad anyway, he’s quicker than people think, I still think he’s got maybe half a stone to go on his top half, but he is getting stronger, there’s no two ways about it.”
McNeil has been linked with Aston Villa and Everton this summer, but no offers have materialised, and Dyche noted: "I've never really spoken about anything other than the players would be here, and they are, including myself.
"We made that clear, but there's always a reality, and that's if someone offered what would now be a very, very large sum of money, that might change things.
"But at the minute he's enjoying his football, he's under a long term contract, and as far as he feeds back to me, he's enjoying the constant challenge of the Premier League.
"We've not really been hanging onto our players the last few years, because it's a situation where it's been controlled, the amount of money we brought into the club, the amount of money that went on the change of ownership was enormous.
"We can make controlled decisions on whether we need to or want to sell.
"That's changed, it's more considered rather than in the early days.