Sean Dyche defends Ashley Barnes in wake of Matic incident

Burnley manager Sean Dyche has responded to Chelsea criticism.


Burnley manager Sean Dyche has hit back at Jose Mourinho’s criticism of referee Martin Atkinson after the Chelsea boss blamed poor decisions for his side’s 1-1 draw with the Clarets on Saturday.

After the game, Mourinho cited four "crucial moments" as decisive in the result at Stamford Bridge, the most controversial of which saw Chelsea’s Nemanja Matic sent off in the second half.

Matic was dismissed for pushing Ashley Barnes after the Burnley striker had caught the Blues midfielder high on his shin with a late tackle that Mourinho described as "criminal".

Chelsea’s website also broke down the incidents, while publishing the views of personalities who agreed with their manager.

But in a 10-minute interview with Burnley TV, which Dyche claimed was necessary to "give a balanced view" on the game’s events, the Burnley boss defended Barnes’ challenge.

"When moments like that occur, it’s very rare there is not a reaction to that moment in the stadium," Dyche said. "Look at the reaction from a bunch of expert footballers from the Chelsea side – the likes of John Terry, Kurt Zouma, Branislav Ivanovic – big, strong boys who are on right top of this moment.

"Jose Mourinho has a similar view to me, the crowd behind me, circa 15,000, no-one reacts. In live time no-one reacts except Matic. After the event, with hindsight and slow motion, statements like ‘criminal tackle’ are being used. I find that hard to adjust to."

Dyche also believes Barnes’ tackle was not malicious, but instead a natural movement of his leg after the forward failed to complete a pass.

"After the event of course, it looks an ugly challenge," Dyche said. "Ashley Barnes tried to play the ball down to Dave Jones behind him, his momentum and the pendulum motion of his leg swings up through the ball. Matic is late getting there – not in a vicious way – but that means his (Barnes’) leg pendulums through and hits him on the shin."


Dyche also addressed the other three incidents that Mourinho cited, including two Chelsea penalty appeals that Atkinson turned down before half-time.

The Burnley boss admits Michael Kightly’s handball in the 33rd minute would "usually" result in a spot-kick but insisted Jason Shackell’s apparent push on Diego Costa eight minutes later was harder to call.

"Jason Shackell definitely gets a mild hand on him – is that enough for him to go down? It’s a real debating point," Dyche said. "That’s a close one. The first one usually gets given but that one is a real tough one for referees.

"He (Costa) is off balance anyway, he gets a slight nudge and he goes down. I’m not remotely saying he went down easily or is trying to simulate, I just mean it’s a mild contact which inevitably means he ends up on the floor. I think that’s a tough one, particularly when you consider the referee’s actual angle to see that incident."

Chelsea felt aggrieved that Burnley were not reduced to 10 men after half an hour when Barnes jumped into Ivanovic, thrusting his knee into the defender’s back.

Dyche, however, argued the movement was similar to that which "goalkeepers take when they receive a ball in the air to protect themselves" and believes it merited "at most a yellow card".

He also had two complaints of his own, suggesting Costa could have been punished for kicking out at Shackell late on and that Chelsea should have given Burnley the ball back after the visitors had put it out of play.

"Ben Mee goes up for a header and lands heavily on his ribs, there is then quite obvious contact made by Costa on the back of Jason Shackell’s legs," Dyche said. "Our keeper then rolls the ball out of play to allow the physio to administer treatment to our player.

"Usually that ball then comes back into the goalkeeper but on this occasion – it must have been an oversight – Chelsea played on, threw it in and tried to attack us and score a goal. I’ll accept it if it is an oversight but I think the protocol suggests that’s not the correct fashion because usually that gets thrown back to the keeper."

Dyche’s interview came after the Football Association said Barnes would face no disciplinary action.