Former Burnley winger George Boyd reflects on Etihad comeback against Manchester City
Manchester City had beaten Liverpool, Spurs, Manchester United and Bayern Munich at the Etihad Stadium before welcoming the Clarets in the final fixture of 2014.
The defending Premier League champions, guided by Manuel Pellegrini, had been in scintillating form on their own turf, netting 11 times in those aforementioned games.
So when Burnley trailed 2-0 at the break, with goals from David Silva and Fernandinho, there seemed very little chance of recovery.
City hadn’t surrendered a two-goal lead at home since Damien Duff and Clint Dempsey had salvaged a point for Fulham way back in 2009 after Joleon Lescott and Martin Petrov had given the hosts a two-goal cushion.
However, things started to look considerably more promising for Sean Dyche’s side when George Boyd stuck out a boot to divert Danny Ings’ attempt past Joe Hart just a couple of minutes into the second half.
And when Ashley Barnes thumped in an 81st minute equaliser the visitors held firm.
“It came off my stud and diverted Ingsy’s cross,” Boyd told the Burnley Express.
“I don’t think Joe Hart expected me to get a touch on it and it went past him.
“I don’t think you’ll ever beat Barnesy’s goal. What a strike! You can see how elated we all are in the celebration, we were buzzing.
“I remember it well. Keano headed it and it bounced down and Barnesy just smashed it.
“It was an unbelievable strike and I remember Dean Marney being there and we all just slid towards each other.
“It wasn’t disbelief, it was just pure elation to get the equaliser. We’d done well and we deserved at least a point.”
The former Burnley winger added: “I think we fully deserved that after being 2-0 down.
“We played well in the second half and we were the team that looked most likely to win it after we had equalised.
“There was so much character in that team at the time, we were all very close, we had an amazing team spirit and a ‘never say die’ attitude.
“That showed a few times, including at Newcastle the week after when we came back three times to draw.
“We grew in confidence after that game as well. It gave us belief having gone there and taken a point. It showed that we deserved to be in the Premier League.
“Yes we ended up going down, but we came straight back up. The club’s just going from strength to strength now.”
Boyd also netted in the corresponding fixture at Turf Moor in March as City’s crown started to slip.
The winger was the hero of the hour when beating Hart with a crisp first-time effort after Vincent Kompany had cleared Kieran Trippier’s set-piece.
“That’s the best I’ve ever felt when scoring a goal,” he admitted. “We were in a tricky spell at the time and we needed the points massively.
“To score the winner was great and it was another game we fully deserved to win.
“It would be a bit of a waste to score that kind of goal now! It’s going to be a strange feeling for the boys [without the fans], but they’ve played a few friendlies behind closed doors.
“It’ll be a bit weird, but everyone’s in the same boat. They’ve had a mini pre-season and now I suppose everybody will be glad that they’re able to play football again.”
The wording installed at the entrance to Burnley’s state-of-the-art Barnfield Training Centre effectively sums up the values and philosophies of the club under Dyche’s watch.
”Legs, Hearts, Minds” is the mantra. The Clarets put everything into everything they do.
They ‘train as they play and play as they train’. Boyd knows that as well as anybody else
And he feels the intensity of those sessions at Gawthorpe, coupled with the mentality of the squad, will give them an edge over their opponents when it comes to playing games behind-closed-doors.
“They’re a fit team and every day in training is done at match intensity,” said the 34-year-old.
“Hopefully that will help them and give them an edge against other teams.
“I’ve been at other clubs where the training is nowhere near the level of Burnley’s. That will definitely be an advantage to them.
“He [Sean Dyche] gets the right people in, he knows the kind of personnel he wants in and around it. He wouldn’t bring any bad eggs into the building because they’ve got to be the right characters first and foremost.
“The work ethic and team spirit is already there and they’ve got to take that on if they want to be a part of that environment.
“If there was a bad egg they’d get found out pretty quickly and phased out because it wouldn’t be allowed in that environment. It all comes from Sean [Dyche] and filters down.”
There is, however, the flip side to that. The Clarets will be without their valued support when welcoming Watford, Sheffield United, Wolves and Brighton to Turf Moor
Boyd added: “There’s the other side to it as well because the Turf is always such an advantage to them when they’re at home.
“It will be the same for everyone, but at Turf Moor the fans certainly give you that 12th man.
“That will be different for the boys, but they’ll deal with that and they’ve just got to enjoy being back on the pitch.”
The Peterborough United midfielder had adopted Borussia Dortmund as his team to follow in the Bundesliga once the German campaign was back up-and-running.
But he’ll be backing the Clarets now that England’s top flight has resumed.
“It will hopefully run similar to the Bundesliga, which has been pretty smooth sailing,” he said.
“Everything has been done really professionally and safely.
“I can’t wait for it.
“I’ve been watching the German football, which has been fine.
“I’ve been tuning in to most of Dortmund’s games, but nothing beats the Premier League!
“It’s going to be amazing to get the opportunity to watch football every day for a month.
“I will watch every Burnley game on TV.
“It’s a bit of a tough one first, but the boys were in great form before the cut off and now they’ll just want to finish the job.
“They’ve got Barnesy to come back from injury and after that they’ll be close to having a full strength squad.
“They’ll be raring to go.”