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01 October 2023

The Long Ball Derby: Man Utd vs Burnley

New Manchester United coach Louis van Gaal walks across the pitch during a training session for his players at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, on July 22, 2014. (AFP)

By Trinity Mirror

Burnley boss Sean Dyche has laughed off suggestions that Wednesday night’s clash with Manchester United at Old Trafford is “the long ball derby”.
The two clubs top the Premier League table for the most passes over 35 yards, but Dyche denies that fans will be left nursing stiff necks in what he jokingly refers to as “long ball-gate”.
Louis van Gaal accused Burnley earlier in the season of being “direct”, but the Dutchman has been on the defensive recently after accusations about his own long-ball tactics.
According to statistics, Burnley top the table after 24 league games with 1877 long balls with Van Gaal's United just behind on 1861.
Dyche said: “I am looking at Man United’s team and I think they are capable of playing the ball more than five or ten yards - and probably with some style.
“If high-class international footballers can’t play the longer pass, I don’t know what they’re doing at this level.
“We all know what this 'long-ball game' implies. Apparently a long pass isn’t the same thing.
“I am just giving my opinion on the slightly bigger picture of this kind of ‘long ball-gate’ - is it serious enough to have a gate on the end?
"I am not trying to make a dig at anyone, just a bit of humour out of a semi-serious situation. I don’t get the debate. I think it is really exaggerated the whole thing and because it’s Man Utd it makes it a bigger story.
“One thing I know is that fans want excitement. Sometimes you see fantastic passing football but it’s very slow and methodical and you think ‘do I want to watch that every week all season?’
“I think Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea side, when they first won the league in 2004-05, had about 55 per cent of their goals involving a longer pass over 25 metres.”
Burnley defender Michael Keane will be facing his former club just six months after his final appearance for United in a 4-0 thumping in the Capital One Cup at League One side MK Dons.
The 22-year-old defender was one of seven from that Reds side shipped out by boss Louis van Gaal in the wake of the hiding.
Keane, who originally came to the Clarets on loan six days after that Dons defeat but has since sign a permanent deal, said: “These things happen in football. It was a bad day for the players involved and the fans.
“A lot of players have moved on and I do think that things would have been different for some of the players – if not all the players – but you have to get over it and move on, like a lot of us have done.”
Manchester United vs Burnley: Probable teams
Man United: De Gea; Valencia, Smalling, Jones, Rojo; Januzaj, Blind, Rooney; Di Maria, van Persie, Falcao.
Heaton, Trippier, Keane, Shackell, Mee, Boyd, Kightley, Jones, Arfield, Barnes, Ings