We’ve heard plenty about this Ashley Barnes challenge on Nemanja Matic that resulted in Matic’s angry reaction and subsequent red card.
Now, we’ve heard from Burnley manager Sean Dyche. At length. He wasn’t happy, particularly that Jose Mourinho labeled Barnes’ lunge on Matic as “criminal.”
His defense? That nobody reacted angrily in the moment.
“I need to make this clear,” Dyche ranted in an interview with Burnley’s official website. “Please everyone look at the reaction of a bunch of expert footballers, not just on the Chelsea, but also the Burnley side. The likes of John Terry, a warrior and a really top professional in my opinion … right on top of that moment. Jose Mourinho had a similar view to me. The crowd behind us, 15,000 people. Nobody reacts. In live time, nobody reacts apart from Matic. The referee sees it in live time.”
So, according to Dyche, as long as nobody notices it’s bad – besides the victim, of course – then a tackle is fine! No matter that the tackler ends up with his spikes on the shin of the recipient, thereby endangering his health, safety and career. Nobody saw it!
“When you see it then, after the event, slo-mo, re-angle, of course it doesn’t look a pleasant challenge. But at live speed, these are expert people who have been in the game a long time who don’t even react, don’t even flinch to that moment, other than Matic’s response. I find it hard to believe that all of these people who have now come out – especially the manager using very, very strong phrases – didn’t have any reaction at that live moment. I find that hard to accept, at that live moment.”
“With all the television camera angles, things can be twisted and contorted accordingly,” said Dyche. “My instant impression was they came together at an unusual angle. His momentum takes him through, not in a vicious way. He’s late and he hits him on the shin.”
He also defended Barnes by saying that because the action appeared to be a pass and not a tackle, it’s humanly impossible to stop your leg from going through the ball once it’s been kicked, and that Barnes struggled to halt his foot from continuing onto Matic’s leg.
“I would suggest that once you’re in that pendulum motion to play a pass, I think it’s very difficult to then retract your leg immediately and stop your leg from going through that ball and rising.”
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Dyche was equally as upset that he was forced to discuss the Barnes incident rather than his team’s comeback draw. “It’s a shame on this occasion because I’d like to speak about the game. I thought we were excellent, got an excellent point at a place that’s incredibly tough with a fantastic manager, a fantastic group of players, and a fantastic club. On this occasion, I think it’s gone a bit too far.”
Here’s the full 10-minute interview, where Dyche mentions all the incidents Mourinho was upset about and breaks them down to his point of view.