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jimmy mac silenceManchester United yet again came to Turf Moor and took all three points and it is difficult to argue against yesterday’s result as they took command almost from first whistle to last.

They took the game to us right from the off and we struggled to get any sort of foothold in the game. They went in front just before the half hour, added a second right on half time and I do think we had to be thankful that the defeat was no more than 2-0.

It was probably the game we didn’t want right now. We are still searching for a first Premier League win of the season and a wounded Manchester United were probably not the ideal opponents. This is a team who usually do well at the Turf. Robbie Blake’s goal back in 2009 seems almost a lifetime ago and, incredibly, that’s the only goal they’ve conceded at Burnley since Geoff Nulty scored our goal in a 1-1 draw in November 1969.

As the first 21,000 plus crowd arrived for the game we received news that Sean Dyche had made his first changes of the season in the Premier League. He preferred Phil Bardsley and Charlie Taylor to Matt Lowton and Stephen Ward at full back whilst youngster Dwight McNeil took the place of the injured Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson.

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What  a day for McNeil who had been with United for nine years before moving to Burnley. I’ve been watching him play in the youth andunder-23 teams for the last two to three years and been impressed with him. I thought he was terrific last Thursday against Olympiacos but this was always going to be a big test for him. It was one that, in my view, on a difficult day for us, he passed with flying colours.

I wrote in my preview that he’d be the first player to have played in the youth team and gone on to start a first team league game since Jay Rodriguez and the first to do so in the top flight since Joe Jakub in April 1976 who debuted in our last First Division game of that season against Coventry.

Ahead of the game there was just one name on the minds of Burnley supporters and that was Jimmy McIlroy. I’m still finding it hard to take in that he’s no longer with us and yesterday was the day we held a minute’s silence to remember this brilliant footballer and lovely man. With members of Jimmy’s family on the touchline, it was impeccably observed by everyone inside the ground, both home and away supporters.

Jimmy turned in some brilliant performances against United. My first game was this fixture in 1960 and he scored our last goal in a 5-3 First Division win, but this was to be no repeat unfortunately. Right from the first whistle we struggled to contain them and we were probably fortunate that the score remained at 0-0 for as long as it did.

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It was inevitable that they would score and they duly did on 27 minutes when Romelu Lukaku headed home an Alexis Sánchez cross. I thought Joe Hart might have done better but if he was at fault, he certainly made up for it in the remainder of the game.

Even before their second, he saved well from Lukaku but there was nothing he could do just before the break when a ball ricocheted off Taylor right into Lukaku’s path. Who knows? Just a one goal deficit at half time might have given us a chance but it was surely game over at 2-0.

It did improve after the break but not enough to get us back into the game. We did at least force David de Gea into some saves but it was always more likely that United would increase their lead and they should have done that when Aaron Lennon gave away a penalty.

If you are going to be a clown running up to take a penalty you have to score. When you don’t you look a complete idiot. Stand up Paul Pogba. With his ridiculous stuttering run up, he saw Hart save to his right. Just minutes earlier the United fans had been singing ‘City reject’ at him; the Burnley fans responded with that chant.

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Marcus Rashford was the player fouled for the penalty. He’d come on as a substitute and his stay wasn’t too much longer than an Ade Akinbiyi debut. He reacted to getting a kick from Bardsley by putting his head in. Referee Jon Moss had no alternative. After showing Bardsley a yellow, out came the red card for Rashford.

The United player knew what was coming, he was on his way before the red card came out and subsequently apologised to his team mates.

Losing a player didn’t appear to make much of a difference and, in truth, it was probably something of a relief when the final whistle blew and we’d only been beaten 2-0.

We have constantly been told that playing in the Europa League makes it very difficult for a team. Has that been the case? While United have played just four games, that was game number ten for us. If it is the case, we do now have a two week break to recharge the batteries and judging on the last two league games they are batteries very much in need of a charge. We might even have some of the injured players available by then although the news isn’t as yet too positive on that.

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We won’t play a wounded United every week, although we will play teams who, in my view, are better than them. We need to put this early season group of games behind us now and come out ready for the battle in two weeks time.

The teams were;

Burnley: Joe Hart, Phil Bardsley, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Aaron Lennon, Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Dwight McNeil (Matěj Vydra 84), Jeff Hendrick (Sam Vokes 58), Chris Wood (Ashley Barnes 80). Subs not used: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, Kevin Long, Stephen Ward.
Yellow Cards: Dwight McNeil, Phil Bardsley.

Manchester United: David de Gea, Antonio Valencia, Chris Smalling, Victor Lindelöf, Luke Shaw, Marouane Fellaini, Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba (Eric Bailly 90+2), Jesse Lingard (Ander Herrera 76), Romelu Lukaku, Alexis Sánchez (Marcus Rashford 61). Subs not used: Lee Grant, Ashley Young, Fred, Anthony Martial.
Yellow Cards: Alexis Sánchez, Luke Shaw, Romelu Lukaku.
Red Card: Marcus Rashford.

Referee: Jon Moss (Horsforth).

Attendance: 21,525.

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