Burnley keep Premier League survival hopes alive with slick showing in win over Southampton

One week on from Sean Dyche’s shock dismissal and Burnley have hardly tailed away as expected. Their players, in fact, looked liberated as they breathed life into their battle against Premier League relegation.

There seemed no plan in place when Alan Pace, the club chairman, dismissed Dyche a week ago, yet they may have stumbled onto a formula for survival in Under-23s manager Michael Jackson taking charge, assisted by captain Ben Mee. It is now four points in two games and 17th place is in their grasp.

Burnley played with a freedom unseen at Turf Moor in the last nine-and-a-half years under Dyche, whose name was sung by fans. Only Fraser Forster’s series of high-class saves prevented them racking up a big total in a first half where they had to settle for goals from Connor Roberts and Nathan Collins.

Jackson has put forward a compelling case to take charge for the rest of the season. Along with the draw at West Ham, Burnley are back within sight of safety. Should they get a positive result against Wolves on Sunday, Everton will kick-off in the Merseyside derby in the bottom three instead of them.

Pace now faces a dilemma over whether to stick with this coaching team after seeing momentum swing back in their favor over the course of a week. Employing a new manager for one month will be an expensive exercise and risks changing what proved so effective against Southampton.

Wolves are challenging for European football and have more to play for than Southampton, but there is clearly a belief in the ranks of the squad. On this evidence they will not be scrapping their way to safety. It was a performance underpinned by slick passing and pace attacks.

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For those searching for Michael Jackson puns, it was a Thriller which ended in victory, which has been rare for Burnley fans this season.

Earlier in the day, Dyche broke his silence on his shock dismissal last week, issuing a heartfelt statement thanking his staff and players for almost a decade at the club. “Among the many challenges, there have been some truly incredible times, which are never to be forgotten,” Dyche said.

There was little time for reflection, however, with six games left now for Burnley to climb out of the relegation zone and pull off a remarkable escape even by their standards.

For the first time, The Royal Dyche pub was serving pre-match pints without the man who took them to the Premier League in the dug-out over the road. Yet supporters found themselves cheering with Roberts’ early strike.

It seemed despite Dyche’s absence, his players still had muscle-memory of their survival campaigns under their former manager. They came out of the blocks at pace and could have been out of sight within 20 minutes.

Their goal came from Roberts’ living up to his nickname of “The Crynant Cafu” after his hometown in Wales. There was a touch of Brazilian magic about the way he stepped inside from his right-back position, then shifted the ball after receiving it from Josh Brownhill.

His finish with his weaker left foot arched over Forster and into the top corner, his first since arriving in the summer from Swansea City. Burnley were hardly playing their reputation under Dyche, with swift short passes that cut through their opponents.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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