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Dean’s Debrief: Frustrating draw, mighty McGinn display, injury concerns and system change

Short highlights: Watch El Ghazi/McGinn goals in Burnley draw John McGinn: Best performance of the season – we need to turn a corner now
Dean’s Debrief: Frustrating draw, mighty McGinn display, injury concerns and system change

Dean Smith spoke to the media following the 2-2 draw with Burnley.

His views in full are below.

On the result…

I am disappointed and frustrated because the first half is as good as we have played this season, such was the domination.

Burnley can be a very tough team to play against. They get it up to their front two well and get it wide and get crosses into the box – but I thought we dealt with that really well.

I was really pleased with our game plan. We played Jack a little bit higher and John has had a headed chance that’s gone over, El Ghazi has had a chance and then we’ve had a disallowed goal which has gone to VAR.

Then we’ve scored a goal and we were the dominant force. I don’t think anyone would have argued if we’d gone in two or three up at half time.

I think half time came at the wrong time for us. I didn’t think we started the second half very well. They’d made the change in Rodriguez and tried to match it up a little bit.

I thought it was a scrappy exchange in the first 15-20 minutes of the second half. 

NakambaBurnleyI felt a little bit aggrieved at their goal because Nakamba – who I thought was excellent – played the ball through the lad’s legs and it’s come off his heel and gone out for a throw-in and they gave it to them.

I also thought it was a foul right in front of me from Wood on Taylor. They got given the free-kick. They launched it 50-60 yards and we didn’t deal with it properly. 

I thought our response from that was good – we took the game back to them.

We had a couple of chances. Then there was a great ball from Trez to John, who deserved a goal. He was outstanding. He was pushed by Nakamba, who was excellent. 

How they came through that first half without a yellow card on John McGinn is beyond me.


On the final leveller…

The second goal was definitely a lapse of concentration.

They have kicked off. We went to press them. We didn’t get tight enough on Westwood. He plays to Wood, who comes off short – and we don’t get tight enough on him. Then they switch it and we don’t stop the cross.

But I think Burnley will go home with what they came for. You saw from the first minute how long it took for goalkicks. The game was going to be a stop-start game. They wanted to stop our rhythm and stop the fans getting behind us.

But if there was one team who was going to win it, it was going to be us. 

I am disappointed because it was three points we deserved – and I am disappointed with the manner of the goals we’ve conceded. 

We need to kick on with these games and win them.

On injuries…

Tyrone got a whack on the shin. He tried to keep the ball in and went for a tackle with Tarks. That will be nothing.

Targett is more worrying. He felt his hamstring – the opposite one from last time. But I am hoping it’s more of a cramp issue than anything else.

He played 90 minutes on Wednesday. There was a risk to play him and get through the 90 minutes. But I thought he was having a really good game and gave us a different outlet going forward.

WesleyBurnleyOn Wesley…

I think the lads were worried at one stage but he was fine.

I think it fired him up, if I’m honest. He was a little bit sloppy at times in the first half but that fired him up and he became a better player. 

On system change…

I decided on it on Thursday. 

I have seen enough of Burnley. They like to go and press. But I felt they left gaps between their midfielders and their back four.

I thought we could exploit that through Grealish and El Ghazi and I thought that worked really well in the first half. They had a number of chances.

On concerns at dropping points…

There’s no mental block, that’s for sure. 

We have dominated a team that many will find a struggle to play against.

You could see from some of our play, especially in that first half, that there’s a confidence and belief in the players.

Even after their second equaliser, there was still only one team who was going to go and get the next goal.

VARBurnleyOn VAR…

I can’t question the VAR, it’s an objective decision.

There’s a line which tells you if he’s offside or not and he’s offside.

I am disappointed with the human error for their first goal.

We’ve not been dealt a great hand at present with decisions but I’m sure they’ll even themselves out.

McGinnBurnley3On John McGinn…

He’s excellent.

He’s been consistently good in all our performances. He consistently looks like he’s going to score goals. 

He’s scored two and had one disallowed.

But it’s his all-round game. He’s all-action, wins free-kicks, gets into the opposition box, scores goals. 

Unfortunately, I don’t think he was protected as much as he should have been this weekend.

They have targeted him because he’s one of our best players, that’s for sure.

Paul Brown
By @paulbrownavfc 29th September 2019