Sean Dyche hopes Saturday’s defeat to Manchester City proves the right preparation for Burnley’s crucial tests against relegation rivals Everton and Norwich in the next few days.
City struck twice in the opening 25 minutes at Turf Moor through Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan and had chances to add to that lead as they eased back to the top of the Premier League after briefly being leapfrogged by Liverpool after their 2-0 win over Watford at lunchtime.
It means Burnley have lost 10 in a row to Pep Guardiola’s side, and the aggregate score of 34-1 shows this was not a fixture by which to measure their chances of scrambling out of the hole they have dug themselves.
Instead, Wednesday’s visit of Everton and Sunday’s trip to Norwich should give a better indication of the chances of a great escape.
“I want (the game) to help,” Dyche said after Saturday’s defeat. “People were saying it was a bad time to play City but I thought it was a good time to play them.
“We had 11 games to go and we needed the players to get their eye in, get the international lads back.
“Actually I think it was a good time to play them because you want that game, of course you want a result, but if you can’t get a result it gives you that game time to get ready for the next one.”
Dyche shrugged off suggestions of a make-of-break week, but recognizes time is running out to get points on the board.
“Every point counts wherever you get it from, the focus is on the next game,” he said. “They are all important, if you win the next one, it doesn’t make your season, you have to do a lot more than that.
“It is a truth of a team like Man City, they had three efforts on target in the first half and scored two. We haven’t done that all season. The biggest nemesis of our season is scoring chances, not just creating them.
“We’ve defined a lot of our season to now, now it is about changing it, players getting in that moment and actually taking the chances. That will be interesting over the next few games.
“But that is one of the defining factors, we need that freedom to take chances, and it will come. People talk about it (relegation) all season and I am used to it. If we can go and win (against Everton), that will be better.”
Dyche switched to a 4-5-1 formation for Saturday’s game. Maxwel Cornet started on the bench, but came on at half-time to replace Dwight McNeil, who Dyche said he felt was slightly off his game physically in the opening 45 minutes.
But even with the extra man in midfield, Burnley struggled to close down the spaces that City are so good at creating.
Asked if his players had shown Guardiola’s side too much respect, Dyche said: “They are easy words, but it is tough when you are out there, 11 players who haven’t played in a few weeks against a top side.
“We tried to change it, just a little bit, get an extra midfielder in there, thinking we hadn’t played for a while and only got our players back on Thursday. To try and mold that in a day and a half isn’t that easy.
“Considering they have hardly had a game for weeks then you have to be reality bound. You can’t just flick a switch and they come out on fire, or I think that would be unlikely.”