Sean Dyche insisted he is not worried about Burnley’s run of results despite a 2-1 home defeat to Newcastle on Sunday that sucked them towards the battle at the bottom.
The Clarets bossed possession and had 24 attempts at goal but conceded twice in the space of six second-half minutes as substitute Allan Saint-Maximin made a stunning impact for Newcastle, with the result leaving Burnley seven points above the drop zone but just one above the 17th-placed Magpies.
Dyche’s side have won only twice since January, with Sunday’s defeat the second match in a row where a half-time lead has ended in a loss, but the manager said it was a case of good performances going unrewarded rather than a crisis in form ahead of a trip to Old Trafford.
“Our focus is on the performance,” Dyche said. “I don’t think we were far off last week (in the 3-2 loss at Southampton) and certainly not (on Sunday) but the main statistic you’ve got to get right is the scoreline.
“It not an easy place to go, Manchester United, but we’ll focus on the performance and if we keep performing like that we’ll see ourselves right.”
Burnley won 2-0 at Old Trafford last January and picked up a draw in the season before so, having already won away to Liverpool and Arsenal this season, may make the short trip down the M66 with little to fear.
Indeed, their away record has been better than that at home of late, with their last win at Turf Moor coming over Aston Villa on January 27.
“We just have to win,” Dyche said. “Home and away is one thing and that has been peculiar this season, we all know that.
“We can’t prove it but we all imagine it’s down to the crowd. Our crowd supports us well and very powerfully, but (Sunday) wasn’t about crowds or no crowds. It was about a dominant performance and not seeing it through and winning.”
Nick Pope missed Sunday’s defeat with a shoulder injury suffered at Southampton, with the England goalkeeper’s status for the United match uncertain.
“He went down to make a save at Southampton and it hasn’t settled down,” Dyche said. “We were into risk and reward territory and in the end we decided it wasn’t quite right. Hopefully he’s OK for next weekend but we’ll see.”
Victory for Newcastle was a huge result in their fight against relegation as it moved them six points clear of the bottom three.
Newcastle were outplayed for almost an hour and trailed to Matej Vydra’s goal, but the game changed when Saint-Maximin and Callum Wilson were brought off the bench in the 57th minute.
Top scorer Wilson had missed seven games with a hamstring problem while Saint-Maximin only returned from injury as a substitute last week, and the attacking duo quickly showed the Magpies what they have been missing.
Steve Bruce laughed off a question as to whether his double substitution was a tactical masterstroke, but said their absence had been a key reason for the poor form that had left Newcastle at risk of dropping into the bottom three.
“That was (Saint-Maximin’s) 18th appearance out of 31 and I’m not sure how many of those he has started,” he said.
“Too often this season our big players haven’t been available. When you’re a club in the bottom half, you need your big players. It isn’t rocket science. You can see what a difference he makes to the team.
“He’s a very, very talented player who hasn’t been available for half of the season.”