Burnley vs Manchester United: United spent £59.7m on Angel Di Maria - Burnley have spent £45m on transfer fees... since 1882

The most expensive player in Burnley's team is Lukas Jutkiewicz who cost £1.5m
  • @ianherbs

Sean Dyche grinned and dropped his head on to the desk in front of him when he was told that the £59.7m Manchester United have spent on Angel Di Maria surpasses the transfer market money laid out by Burnley in their entire 132-year history.

The east Lancashire side have rattled up a £45m outlay on players since 1882 but are not taking it much higher in a hurry. Their total spending since gaining promotion to the Premier League in May has been around £4.5m, with even the typical post-promotion blowout proving beyond a club whose next nine months seem certain to be spent hoping for a miracle. The wage ceiling at Burnley is £20,000 a week. It was the £11m Fulham paid Leeds United for Ross McCormack in the summer which really sent a chill through Turf Moor.

They are a side the nation should be looking to for a story of virtuous self-sufficiency and in 43-year-old Dyche certainly possess a protagonist to cherish. His tactics will be direct when they need to be – “They will play with a lot of passion; a lot of long balls. You have to fight against it. It will be a very difficult game but we have to show we can play football, that we can pass the ball in spite of the pressure of Burnley” Manchester United’s manager, Louis van Gaal, said looking ahead to today’s game. Dyche bridled a little at that reputation. Intense, pressing, quick-breaking football is actually the Burnley way.

“Some teams keep the ball for the sake of keeping the ball,” Dyche told The Independent last year. “I want quick, passing football through the units to open up opposition, particularly on transition.” Expect something more Southampton than Wimbledon. It could threaten a young United defence, using what has been a suicidally high line so far.


Dyche speaks with a clarity which is a blessing in the buttoned-up, self-conscious world of the Premier League. “We have learnt that Chelsea are very good. That’s one thing,” he said of the early lessons. “And we have learnt that Swansea are also very good, but not quite as good as Chelsea….  We know the ball stays in play longer, which adds to the physicality. So players cover more ground. We know there are technically more sound players and talented ones in the teams we have certainly faced so far. There’s a tactical framework to teams that differs.” 

Angel Di Maria and Louis van Gaal at Old Trafford


Memories of 19 August 2009 – Burnley defeating reigning champions United 1-0 at Turf Moor in their second Premier League fixture – put the odds into some kind of perspective, though even that seems a distant memory as the division’s commercial juggernaut has powered on. “It’s not so much with us because the group of players is considerably different,” said Dyche of five years ago. “Michael Duff was around, but he’s been here for 14,000 years. We know the game has changed since then and moved on.”

This lunchtime is an event made for players like goalkeeper Tom Heaton, once third choice at United, who told Sir Alex Ferguson in 2010 that he could not wait around any longer for a dream to materialise into reality. “There was the option of a new deal, and I said that was me [done],” Heaton said. “I was ready to go and try new things, drop down, play some games.”

Dyche talks of having a coffee with Van Gaal. “It will be interesting to [do that] and ask him [things]. I don’t know if I would get that chance. But I would be interested in that,” he said. Don’t bet against  Van Gaal being the one who learns most today.