“Slowly, but surely, the mentality and the environment we work in is actually rubbing off on him” - Burnley boss Sean Dyche on Matej Vydra

It was a moment which summed up Burnley’s mentality against Watford.

By Chris Boden
Monday, 29th June 2020, 7:00 am
Matej Vydra of Burnley and Christian Kabasele of Watford battle for possession during the Premier League match between Burnley FC and Watford FC at Turf Moor on June 25
Matej Vydra of Burnley and Christian Kabasele of Watford battle for possession during the Premier League match between Burnley FC and Watford FC at Turf Moor on June 25

In the dying moments of the game, defending a 1-0 lead, by-now lone striker Matej Vydra chases down a lost cause, gets his body in between the ball and his opponent, and wins a free kick which enabled the Clarets to see out the final seconds.

While it epitomised the team ethic, after a difficult week on and off the pitch, it also showed further signs of Czech Republic international Vydra buying into the ethos at the club, carrying on as he left off before lockdown.

Having gone without a goal since September 2018, Vydra netted twice in February wins over Southampton and Bournemouth, the former earning the goal of the month award.

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And Dyche is delighted he is starting to see the fruits of his labours. Vydra was involved in the winning goal, and might have added a second only to be denied by Ben Foster.

Asked about that moment at the death against the Hornets, Dyche said: “I still think he’s learning about that side of his game, I think he’s been waiting for chances to go and score a goal, and I think he’s beginning to realise what team play is.

“Team play can be getting that foul, it can be defending from the front, getting a foot in, a block...the detail of the game is so important now, and he’s got to continually work at that to become a more all-round centre forward.

“But I think he is working at that, he’s got more games under his belt this season, and he’s earned the right.“

Vydra could be Burnley’s only fit striker at Crystal Palace tonight, with Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood out, and Jay Rodriguez a doubt, and Dyche added: “Yeah, I’m pleased with Vyds, he’s always quiet, but he comes and asks me what we want from him, what he can do, and slowly, but surely, the mentality and the environment we work in is actually rubbing off on him, without too much coaching.

“I think he’s getting more and more used to the respect he gets from the team, for those moments when it’s not just a goal.

“We know he can score a goal, he’s always scored a goal, but it’s more the hold-up play.

“Simple things that get over-looked in football. Popey kicks it, Vyds just gets his body in, the centre half can’t head it or clear it, it comes off him, we pick up the bits, build from there, great cross, great finish, goal.

“That’s an important moment.

“Barnesy does it tremendously well, he just stops the ball coming back your way a lot.

“Woody does it well as well, Jay Rod has learned to do it, he’s played more wide coming in, but we now want him to play down the middle, and Vyds is learning that.

“It’s an important part of forward play, it can’t all be lovely, it has to be robust as well, and he’s definitely learning that.”