Sean Dyche insists he is showing ambition by signing a new contract with Burnley, having been strongly linked with Saturday’s Turf Moor visitors Everton earlier in the season.
Dyche faces the Toffees for the first time since he was widely touted for the job at Goodison Park after the departure of Ronald Koeman in October.
Dyche was high up the betting at the time, and Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher insisted Everton should be "bursting the door down" to appoint him.
However, despite reports of imminent approaches, instantly knocked down, there was no contact with Everton, no job to take, and Sam Allardyce has since come in and steadied the ship.
Dyche reveals there was never a decision for him to make: “I said that at the time, no contact. It’s a strange situation to be in, when you do get linked with those jobs, people pre-suppose because people write about it and bookies take bets on it, that that’s it, it’s a done deal.
“I’ve said several times, when I’ve been linked with different jobs, I’m still here and I intend to be, and I am still here.
“There’ll be a time when that ends, good or bad, we all know that, and when that day comes, it comes.
“But the point is, during that period when you are getting linked, there’s nothing you can do about it but crack on.”
And crack on Burnley did, climbing as high as fourth in December, albeit for 24 hours, and they remain seventh despite going without a win for 11 league games.
Dyche signed a new deal during that run, taking him to the summer of 2022, and he said: “I was really pleased, because the run we’ve had was nothing to do with that, at the time we carried on winning games.
“During this tough run, I signed, six or seven games in, so not on the crest of a wave - I didn’t time it for that, but it’s authentic that I signed, I’m here because I believe in what I’m doing.
“But I’m 46, people saying ‘you’ve signed for a long time at Burnley’ as if that’s it, I’m 46, any other walk of life that’s pretty young to be a manager.
“So I’ve got plenty of time to do whatever the next challenge is, but I like the challenge here.”
He might have to over-perform on one of the smaller budgets in the Premier League, but he explained: “I know the demands, the reality - every season it’s going to be tough, I don’t think there’s going to be a walk in the park season where we just run out and get 70 points and we’re up there pushing.
“That doesn’t mean it’s never going to happen, but it’s tough.
“I like the demand, the challenge, the honesty, the clarity I work under, I like the area, the people, and people overlook that.”
So why jeopardise that and be blinded by finance?: “They say ‘you’ve got to go’. I think I can decide for myself.
“Attractive is often the badge and money, and I’ve been linked with some fantastic clubs, and people think you just think like that, ‘oh well, I’ll go there and do that because it’s that club and they’ve got more money’.
“That’s not always my motive, obviously!
“There has to be more to it than that, people say will your chance come again? First of all, I’d say it was only a phantom chance (to go to Everton), there was no contact, and if it was real, there’s still a decision to make.
“I like the work that’s being done here, I continue to enjoy it, I know the challenges, but it’s a fair challenge, clarity to work, good alignment with the board, players who care deeply and work incredibly hard to be successful. That’s not a bad start.”
Everton was touted as the ideal step up for Dyche, before potentially moving up to a big six club, but his ambitions are still being fulfilled at Turf Moor and there is more to be achieved: “We all know, eventually finance wins the day, so you cheat the system for a number of years, then eventually finance makes it tough.
“There are a few similar-ish to us who have to balance it a bit, some have had a go and it didn’t quite work and they have to cut, so apart from the super powers, there’s a bit of balance to it.
“Wages are often difficult for us compared to the rest of the market.
“So I don’t see it as a literal glass ceiling, there’s still scope to improve. We were second favourites to go down, so that suggests we’re in front of the curve of this glass ceiling.
“But, the big thing for me is learning, and you learn by being on the job.
“You probably learn more when it’s more challenging, and the challenge here is stimulating.
“You’re always at stretch, what can you do next, what player can we sign, how can we work with the training, how can we adapt that, the flexibility of the team, can we get more out of the players, can we add from outside to in, can we still not have a bad run, can we find those results, win the margins, get more parity from decisions - they all go into the melting pot.
“That’s a really healthy place to be, that’s ambitious.
“You could leave for more money, and maybe a glossier looking club, but will you learn as much, or be given time to?
“When that challenge comes, if it’s real, I’ll know when the right time is.”
Dyche’s stock is probably as high as it has been, but even so, Dyche would only move on if it was the right thing to do: “It’s not my first rodeo. Do you leave because your stock’s high, if you’re not ready?
“Guess what happens to that job? (Blows a raspberry). Out you go son.
“Everyone thinks you’ll just go in and be fine, but look at the casualty rate, I prefer to keep grafting and keep learning.
“At least if you leave for, let’s say, a big job somewhere down the line, you must have a better chance if you’ve put the hours in, the shift in, the learning curve.
“Most of the top chefs started by peeling the spuds.
“Not many went straight in at the top, they know all the rungs of the ladder.
“I’ve done a version of that so far.”
Asked where he was in the kitchen, Dyche laughed: “I think Sir Alex would have a fella just hand him the plate and say ‘that’s alright’ and send it out, that will do. I’m nowhere near that!
“I’m not quite finishing the plate and sending it out, I’m next in line!
“I’m cutting everything up, and he’s sat there with a glass of red...”