Burnley’s outstanding second half of the season hasn’t changed Sean Dyche’s thoughts about what he needs in the summer transfer window.
Dyche’s players collected 28 of their 40 points from matchday 20 onwards, sealing Premier League safety with three games to spare.
The Clarets would have finished ninth if the table was purely based on results after Boxing Day, as they outpointed Everton, Spurs, West Ham, Leicester and FA Cup Finalists Watford, and were only outscored by champions Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Crystal Palace and Bournemouth.
But while the likes of Ashley Westwood, Charlie Taylor, Dwight McNeil, Ben Mee and Tom Heaton hugely impressed as Burnley finished 15th, Dyche’s plans for bolstering his squad haven’t altered: “No, I still think I know what we need – what we needed, and what we need.
“The reason I spoke about my pride in the players earlier in the season, when we weren’t winning, is people have short-term memories, which is life now.
“But I don’t. I know what some of these players have done for the club year on year.
“So if they have a bad spell, then we’re not just going to throw them under the bus.
“I’m going to say ‘I’m right here, still with you’ , it doesn’t make you a bad player overnight because you have a few bad results, all it does is rubber-stamp it when things go well, it shows why I have pride in them, because when it’s going well, they’ve done the things I know they can do.
“It’s never in question, the pride side of things.”
And Dyche hopes Burnley are over the worst as regards long-term injuries, with Steven Defour, Robbie Brady and Aaron Lennon missing huge swathes of the season: “I think we’ve been unfortunate with injuries over the last 12 months, that’s affected it.
“So we’re not necessarily better equipped in the sense of, they can’t all just be brilliant again overnight, but you’d like to think, come the beginning of next season, I’d like to think it’s improbable we’ll have that many injuries, from the start point.
“You’re stronger by the nature of just having more available players.”
Technical director Mike Rigg came in in November, with three dates looming large on his calendar, the end of the season, the start of pre-season and the start of next season.
But plans and talks on recruitment are a constant within the club: “It’s ongoing, there’s no stop-start, stand still, just go ‘right, we’re going to sign five players’, there are ongoing links, ongoing conversations – for most by the way – but now and again someone will just fancy a player and throw enough at it where it will happens, and we can’t do that, obviously.
“We have to keep thinking about what comes in, what possibly could go out – in this case we’re stronger with the outgoing idea, for obvious financial reasons, but coming in, who’s available, keep your ear to the ground, and your eye on the market.
“The idea is to narrow down and narrow down until you get to an area of a group of players where they fit as many of the tick boxes as possible.
“In our world that’s difficult. It sounds easy, but it’s not.
“Along the way, if you think of age range, availability obviously, productivity now and for the future, contractually, fees...there are five things, and if you’re trying to find players who fit all that, and, the key thing, are good enough now, or at least to hold the fort now as they get better, that’s difficult.
“So that’s why it’s such a difficult market for us, the club do want a lot of boxes ticked.”