Connection has been the key to forming effective strike partnerships, says Burnley boss Sean Dyche

Burnley boss Sean Dyche has been proud of the club's strike partnerships over the years and the connections they've been able to form on the pitch.

Friday, 5th March 2021, 9:26 am
Updated Friday, 5th March 2021, 9:30 am

Different combinations have posed different threats at the highest levels of the game since the Clarets chief came into power eight-and-a-half years ago.

Charlie Austin and Martin Paterson kicked things off in the Championship, but Danny Ings and Sam Vokes would soon come into the thinking, with all four playing alongside each other at various points of the campaign.

The latter pairing would combine with 41 league goals the following season to propel Burnley back to the Premier League before Ashley Barnes deputised for the Welshman, who had sustained a serious knee injury.

Sam Vokes (9) and Andre Gray of Burnley (7) celebrate as they are promoted to the Premier League after the Sky Bet Championship match between Burnley and Queens Park Rangers at Turf Moor on May 2, 2016 in Burnley, United Kingdom.

Andre Gray was Ings' replacement for Burnley's return to the second tier and the former Brentford forward partnered Vokes - netting 38 goals between them - as it was the turn of ex-Brighton striker Barnes to endure a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

The trio then formed an alliance during the 2016/17 season to provide the firepower that secured survival in the top flight for the first time in the club's history.

"We didn't design it that way - I didn't think 'right, we need a big one and a small one'. It's not really relevant to size, they're different players with different styles.

"Ingsy coming off the front was more of a number 10, he could adapt and run long or run short, as he is doing now.

Danny Ings of Burnley applauds fans after the Barclays Premier League match between Burnley and Stoke City at Turf Moor on May 16, 2015 in Burnley, England.

"Andre [Gray] was definitely somebody who wanted to run off the shoulder, he was somebody who could run long and strong.

"Chaz was also an all-rounder because he could do the simple things well, but he was bullish in the box and very powerful.

"Vokesy got hit on the diagonal, he would join in and make play happen and provide assists."

The 2017/18 season saw the birth of the Chris Wood and Barnes double act as Dyche's side finished seventh to land European football for the first time in half-a-century.

Nathaniel Chalobah of Watford is put under pressure by Charlie Austin of Burnley during the npower Championship match between Watford and Burnley at Vicarage Road on March 29, 2013 in Watford, England.

That specific partnership has been prevalent ever since, with Jay Rodriguez also featuring.

And the blend of Wood and Czech Republic international Matej Vydra - who started together for only the second time against Leicester City - is the latest one to put a smile on Dyche's face.

"They're all different," Dyche said. "It's not about being big or small, it's about what connection they can find on the pitch that is effective.

"It's not really relevant to size, they're different players with different styles.

Ashley Barnes of Burnley (L) celebrates with teammates Chris Wood and Josh Brownhill after scoring their team's first goal during the Premier League match between Burnley and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Turf Moor on December 21, 2020 in Burnley, England.

"Barnesy has been here such a long time and done a job in so many different ways with so many different partners.

"Vyds is a little bit different because he's a bit of everything; he comes short but he works long as well, and he's effective when he does the latter so we're certainly encouraging him to do that.

"Woody is a bit more of an all-rounder, he can run a bit, he's a big fella and can score. Barnesy is a bit rough and tumble and can be a really awkward customer, hard to deal with and has a good knowledge of the game.

"Jay Rodriguez is also quite different, he can work in-between the lines, go short and long and varies play. They're all different players for all different reasons, but it's nothing to do with size."

Dyche confirmed that he may have experimented with different formulas in the final third had the option been available to him.

The demands of the game schedule, however, had taken its toll with players dropping out at different times due to injury.

Matej Vydra of Burnley celebrates with Jay Rodriguez after scoring his sides first goal during the Carabao Cup second round match between Burnley and Sheffield United at Turf Moor on September 17, 2020 in Burnley, England.

"We've had a couple of spells when it hasn't gone as well, but that's standard for us in the Premier League," he said. "We're not the real deal, we're constantly evolving as a work in progress.

"There have been some really strong moments; they were very good against Leicester and arguably a goal or two shy, certainly with the quality of chances created.

"There was a lot of good work from Vyds and Woody with their movement, their willingness to join in and run hard for the team. Jay Rodriguez and Vyds were excellent down at Fulham in the FA Cup with their connection and the way they worked.

"If they were all fit they would have definitely played more minutes between the four of them because the game schedule has asked a lot of us. Obviously we've been limited with injuries."