Dyche celebrates five-year tenure as Vokes seals victory for Burnley
Sean Dyche celebrated five years at Turf Moor last week but the question over whether he will be there even one more week was momentarily, at least, set aside as yet another resourceful away performance was rewarded with victory.
Whether Everton make their move is one thing. Another, and one that the claret and blue faithful cling to, is whether Dyche could be persuaded to resist the Goodison siren call.
Dyche’s players are certainly doing all they can to convince their manager. There were no signs of distractions as another organised display ended amid triumphant scenes in front of the noisy travelling support.
Dyche has turned last season’s strugglers into this campaign’s most transformed outfit. Burnley used to be soft touches on their travels. Now road trips bring out their greatest strengths, this latest success crowned by substitute Sam Vokes’s adroit header with eight minutes left. Burnley have tasted defeat on their travels just once and were not outclassed in that reverse at a rampant Manchester City.
Again, virtues such as coolness under pressure, resilience and an ability to make the most of limited scoring chances were all to the fore at St Mary’s.
Victory lifted Burnley level with Chelsea and Arsenal. Giddy heights, but Dyche is keeping his feet on the ground. “We are not running away with ourselves,” he said. “We know the reality of the season.” And the reality of the Everton situation? “The stories come round, it’s out of my hands. I’m just getting on with
business,” Dyche said. Mauricio Pellegrino, the Southampton manager, insists his side are making quiet progress, although the southcoast crowd are again having to exercise patience. They responded to this setback with jeers, and the problem is glaringly obvious: a lack of goals, a paltry nine in 11 league matches.
Burnley were largely untroubled in a drab first half but Southampton shifted up a gear after the interval with Manolo Gabbiadini’s glanced header going wide, Ryan Bertrand having an effort deflected for a corner and a shot on the turn from Maya Yoshida palmed away by Nick Pope.
Dyche responded by introducing Vokes and Ashley Barnes in the 65th minute and suddenly the match turned Burnley’s way.
The visitors were in raptures after 81 minutes as Johann Berg Gudmundsson whipped over a cross and Vokes steered a header beyond Fraser Forster’s left hand. Pellegrino said: “It was a painful day. We played much better than Burnley except in converting chances.”
Southampton (4-2-3-1) Forster 5; Soares 5, Yoshida 5, Van Dijk 5, Bertrand 6; Romeu 5, Davis 6; Tadic 5 (Long 76), Boufal 5 (Ward-Prowse 90), Redmond 6; Gabbiadini 5 (Austin 65). Subs McCarthy (g), Hoedt, Hojbjerg, McQueen. Burnley (4-4-1-1) Pope 8; Lowton 7, Tarkowski 7, Mee 7, Ward 7; Gudmundsson 7, Defour 7, Cork 7, Brady 7; Hendrick 6 (Barnes 65); Wood 6 (Vokes 65). Subs Lindegaard (g), Westwood, Bardsley, Long, Arfield. Referee L Probert (Wilts).
Victory salute: Sam Vokes celebrates his late winning goal