CLARETS boss Eddie Howe is relishing the battle as he looks to arrest Burnley’s slide down the Championship table.
A miserable run of four successive defeats – losing seven of nine games in all competitions – has seen the side tailspin to 21st in the league, just two points outside the relegation zone.
But Howe has been in worse situations before, namely at Bournemouth, when he took over a club teetering on the edge of oblivion, in the drop zone with a 17-point deduction.
He steered the Cherries to safety, before delivering promotion the following season.
And thinking back to that, Howe said: “That situation was unique really because the future of the club was at stake.
“If we had gone down, the club would have ceased to exist, so that was the ultimate pressure situation in terms of a club’s life expectancy. It was on the line.
“It was a great experience at the time, and one that I relished.
“This is a different situation, but it’s another challenge that I relish.
“You have to have that mentality.
“Through the bad times you find out a lot about yourself, you find out a lot about the players that you have.”
Echoing his thoughts after Tuesday night’s 2-1 defeat at Birmingham, he added: “We’re keen to use this as a learning experience for everybody in the club at the moment.
“I said to the players after the game when we do come through this period we will be a lot stronger for it.
“We’ll be a better team and the players will be better players.
“I’ve got no doubt that we will come through this period.
But at this moment in time we have to batten down the hatches and really stick together.”
Tomorrow, Burnley travel to Hull City – where they collected one of their two clean sheets in the last 34 games in March in 1-0.
And Howe would love a similar outcome this time around.
He said: “Looking back to that game, we didn’t play particularly well but we ground out a 1-0 win.
“What we’d do for that now, because that’s probably what we need to add.
“I think we’ve done it once this year at Millwall where we didn’t play particularly well but we ground out a great result.
“It’s something that all good teams do.
“We’ve played very well at times this year, but I don’t think we’ve got the points we deserved.
“We’ve conceded late goals in the last two games, which has been a real body blow for us because we feel we’ve deserved points out of those games.
“And everything would look very different if we’d got the points our performances merited.
“We are where we are and we’ve done what we’ve done.
“We’ve now got to look to Saturday and look for the same spirit, but maybe be a bit more savvy in closing out games.”
Self-doubt can creep in when everything is going against you, but while Howe is leaving no stone unturned to get to the bottom of his side’s problems, he still believes in his philosophy.
He said: “You question everything.
“You do that whether you win, lose or draw – everything you do every day you analyse.
“It’s only by doing that, that you evaluate what you’re doing and basically try to improve everything you do on a day-to-day basis. We’re always doing that.
“We believe in the way we work, we believe it can be successful. It’s been successful before.
“As I’ve said before, I don’t think there’s anything fundamentally wrong with us as a team.
“With maybe just a little bit of tweaking here and there, I think we’ll be fine.”
The loan window closed at 5 p.m. last night, and ahead of the deadline, Howe was manning the phones to try and bolster his squad, keeping his targets close to his chest.
He admitted: “I’ve been busy already.
“We’ll wait and see how the day unfolds.”