It’s safety first for Sean Dyche but the Burnley boss feels that beating the Premier League points tally from two season’s ago would be a good measure of progression.
Remaining in the top flight is the obvious ambition for the Turf Moor chief, which the club is in line to achieve with eight games remaining, but victory over Stoke City this evening would eclipse their return from the 2014/15 campaign.
Burnley have already picked up 32 points this season, with all but three of those being earned at home, and are already ahead of the curve having accrued 25 points at this point during the aforementioned term.
With 33 points being the marker to overtake, Dyche said: “There’s definite improvements. The team, myself, the staff, and the understanding of the division, definitely, without a doubt.
“The club’s moved on radically off the pitch but you’re only judged on the next win. It’s the madness of this job. For all the good work that continues to be done here you’re only judged on the next performance, the next win, we focus on that.
“From my point of view as a manager that’s a really important thing to keep moving forwards all the time.
“That won’t be the final judgement of course, that comes at the end of the season, but to show continued growth year on year on year is a big part of what I believe is correct for the club and the team.
“But that will go by-the-by, we have to get the job done.
“To get where we are now this early in the games programme and be on the edge of what we’ve achieved before shows signs of growth and increased strength.
The league has moved on considerably from the last two years as well. Last year was an anomaly year and a strange kind of season. This season it’s more or less back to normal so a tougher season than it was last season.”
While the Clarets haven’t won in seven fixtures in the league, Mark Hughes’ Potters have won just once on the road in their last eight, beating Sunderland 3-1 at the Stadium of Light in January.
Dyche feels both of those records portray just how difficult it can be to find consistency in the Premier League.
“They can be like that,” he said. “On their day they’re as good as anyone, got some fine individuals and then they’ve had some quiet days.
“I think that’s the nature of the PL. It’s very difficult to find true consistency over a season. The real superpower clubs more or less do but even they’ve had runs.
“Liverpool had an awkward run, Man City with an awkward run, mainly with draws earlier on in the division. It’s just a tough division. Mark Hughes knows it, his players know it, it can be up and down in the PL.”
While all the talk has surrounded the gap between Hull City and Burnley closing to five points over the weekend, Dyche was quick to point out that his side are only a couple of points shy of mid-table.
Victory over ninth place Stoke would take them to within a point of their rivals.
Dyche said: “It s a really tight league. The lads down at Bournemouth had a really tough run after Christmas and yet pulled together eight points and all of a sudden it looks radically different.
“We had a spell earlier in the season. People forget that we had a spell where we took points from only three of the first six games and yet we won four of the next five. The division can be like that, it change can very quickly.
“Big clubs are only one, two points above us. It’s a hard one to call overall, we’ve given a fair account of ourselves, particularly as no one gave us a chance, within that we are where we are and it’s about moving forwards.”