The general mood enveloping Burnley is that we are witnessing the beginning of a divorce and both parties are at a crossroads.
Whether it arrives in the coming weeks or further down the line, a split appears inevitable – even if they continue to defy the odds.
The counselling sessions have been conducted in public, via Sean Dyche’s unsubtle finger-pointing at the men in suits and action, rather than words, will determine whether this stalemate is permanent.
Striker Jay Rodriguez scored his 50th goal for Burnley to secure a narrow victory
Rodriguez broke the deadlock with a deft header from Dwight McNeil’s cross in 73rd minute
The victory will fail to dampen speculation about the future of Burnley boss Sean Dyche
Burnley chairman Mike Garlick must decide whether it is worth conceding further ground to a man who has brought consistent success over his eight years here. Certainly, the ‘sack the board’ placard one local carried outside Turf Moor’s nearest pub, The Royal Dyche, will reverberate inside the boardroom.
You could be forgiven for forgetting Burnley actually had a Premier League match on Thursday night and that another top-half is eminently achievable.
That became more likely after Jay Rodriguez’s 50th goal for the club, a wonderful stooping second-half header, meeting Dwight McNeil’s fizzed centre. Watford never really got going, this a significant missed opportunity in the relegation scrap.
MATCH FACTS AND LEAGUE TABLE
Burnley (4-4-2): Pope 7; Lowton 6, Tarkowski 7, Mee 7, Taylor 6; Brownhill 6, Cork 7, Westwood 7.5, McNeil 8; Rodriguez 7.5 (Pieters 81), Vydra 7
Subs not used: Peacock-Farrell, Jensen, Bardsley, Long, Thompson, Dunne, Thomas, Goodridge
Manager: Sean Dyche 6
Watford (4-2-3-1): Foster 6; Femenia 6, Kabasele 5 (Cathcart 46, 6), Dawson 6, Masina 6; Capoue 5, Hughes 7 (Chalobah 83); Sarr 6, Cleverley 6 (Doucoure 46, 6), Welbeck 5.5; Deeney 6.5 (Gray 85)
Subs not used: Gomes, Mariappa, Joao Pedro, Pussetto, Pereyra
Manager: Nigel Pearson 6
Ref: Mike Dean 6
- Premier League
- Premier League
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- Scottish Premiership
- Scottish Div 1
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- Scottish Div 3
- Ligue 1
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Burnley’s Dwight McNeil clears the ball off the line from Watford striker Troy Deeney
The eyes of the world have been on this famous old club all week, Burnley’s response to Monday’s reprehensible plane banner swift on the night and forceful thereafter.
The ‘everyone versus discrimination’ message draped behind one goal was arranged following the incident at Manchester City. The club had to prevent social media users replying to their tweets last night, such was the deluge of ‘White Lives Matter’ messages thrown in their direction mid-game.
Of obviously less importance, their manager’s gripes surrounding the operational side of the business acted as a further distraction nevertheless. Dyche’s threadbare squad are a stubborn bunch, however, and there was a definite reaction, squawked on by the faint sound of a vuvuzela behind the Bob Lord Stand.
‘It has been a tough, emotional week for the club and the players on and off the field,’ Dyche said.
‘There has been a lot going on. We don’t do excuses and we responded tonight. The win shows the resilience and mentality of a strong group of players.’
Burnley players spray themselves with water before the Premier League match at Turf Moor
Burnley manager Sean Dyche greets Watford defender Adrian Mariappa before kick-off
What Dyche possesses in terms of a preferred team looks more than competitive for the remaining games, but reserves are sparse. Again, two goalkeepers sat on the bench.
A typical home display, they were certainly more progressive than Watford, finally finding a way through with 17 minutes left. Rodriguez’s header was perfect before the striker hobbled off.
‘He is a joy to work with, very unassuming,’ Dyche said. ‘That is what he does, the ability to find that quality.’
There should have been more. Ben Foster’s erratic rushing saw Matej Vydra hit a post when lobbing, Craig Dawson then solidly thwarting Rodriguez’s half-volleyed follow-up. Rodriguez had earlier headed in Ashley Westwood’s shaped cross but stood offside.
Burnley players reinforced their support for the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement on Thursday
Burnley had a surprising amount of zip, bullying Watford in areas Nigel Pearson would rather they did not. ‘It is a missed opportunity but there’s no point in dwelling on it,’ Pearson said. ‘We have to move on. There is no point spending too much time talking about the negatives. We made too many unforced errors. We were bullied.’
Real Watford chances were rare. Troy Deeney’s header was stopped on the line by McNeil, Will Hughes hammering over. Adam Masina should have equalised from a late corner. Craig Cathcart fashioned something, pouncing on Nick Pope’s fumble, only for the England international to react courageously.
Perhaps Burnley’s next move requires courage. Can Garlick countenance life without Dyche? Suggestions around the game are that yes, he could, and the ill-feeling was in fact mutual. But the chairman will also be mindful of Curbishley, Pulis and the like. Charlton Athletic and Stoke City moved on and not for the better.
Burnley, frugal by nature, would probably rather do without paying Dyche’s contract up. Equally, Dyche would really have to be at his wit’s end to forgo compensation and resign from a £70,000-a-week contract. So if this situation festers beyond reconcile, it is a case of who blinks first.
Burnley and Watford players took a knee after kick-off of the league game at Turf Moor
Fans holding ‘Black Lives Matter’ placards were shown on giant screens inside the stadium