Burnley’s strong jaw is back - Dyche
Sean Dyche believes Burnley have rediscovered their strong jaw over the second half of the season.
The Clarets go to Chelsea on Monday evening, and depending on Cardiff City’s result at home to Liverpool on Sunday, could automatically guarantee a fourth-successive season in the Premier League.
That they are on the brink of such an achievement, given they had 12 points at the halfway stage, is remarkable - if the league table was only based on the last 15 games, they would be third.
And Dyche is delighted with how his players have made sense of their predicament, and found a way through it: “Many years ago Ian Holloway said we have a strong jaw, and he was right, and still is.
“There’s a mentality which has grown over the years and is a valid thing to have.
“If you take a knock, you get on with it, you don’t sit on it and wallow, you carry on, and that’s rewarded us from Christmas onwards.
“We has a really tough first half of the season, a lot of noise outside the camp, and the real clarity of mind has come together to get in the run we’ve had.
“Now it’s about finishing it off, they’ve deserved it, but you’ve got to factually do it.
“But to be so strong minded to change the course of the season at game 19, that has been fantastic, and they deserve a massive amount of credit.
“It means something to me as a manager and my staff, but on a league table, you only get judged when you get it done, and we have to get it done..
“We want to take control of that, and do it for ourselves.
“I think they know, from the history we’ve had, nothing’s been given to us, we haven’t had that many decisions, two penalties in 90-odd games or something.
“It owes us nothing, we have to go and get it. We can’t wait for others, no one gives you anything.
“We’re concentrating on the job in hand.”
Dyche isn’t one for looking back, so a sense of revenge for the 4-0 defeat Chelsea inflicted on his side at Turf Moor at the end of October isn’t on the agenda: “I reminded many people during the season, I wasn’t not proud then, these players continually fight for more, work for everything they get - I’ve always been proud of the players.
“When you’re winning games, it just enhances that, but there’s nothing to do with pride, just the fact that the players have worked very hard and continue to do so, they’ve taken the club, themselves and ourselves a long way from Christmas onwards, and now you’ve got to finish it off.
“That’s not easy, but ideally you want to take care of it yourself.
“That’s what we’ve down historically, we’ve done everything we can to make sure we’re okay, coming out of the Championship, staying in the Premier League, earning Europa football, and now a different challenge.
“That’s our mindset, even though there’s a tough run of games, we want to look after ourselves.
“They’re all tough games, obviously the stats do offer something a bit different with the bigger teams, but we want to rely on ourselves. If other things go for you, great, but other than that, we want to rely on ourselves.”
Burnley go to Stamford Bridge having won there last time out, on the first day of the season in August 2017.
Chelsea, the defending Premier League champions, were stunned, trailing 3-0 at half-time, before going down 3-2.
Dyche doesn’t look back on that as his most significant victory, however: “It’s not the best, it’s the first game of the season, it meant something because it was the first game and no one was expecting it, but there’s been way bigger and more meaningful results.
“It certainly started off a very good season on the front foot.
“There are tough challenges when you go to these places and if you do win, of course it is a marker that you can win games against those teams.
“It was a good one off and good for the fans, but there’s been so many games that mean more, it balances out.”
Dyche sensed before that game his players had grown at this level, and he added: “I think the season before, you go to these grounds and sometimes can sense it, where you think ‘are we really going to grip this game and take it on?’
“I’m not saying we weren’t, but there was a different feeling when we beat them, first game, everyone ready to go, and that feeling in the dressing room of ‘okay, let’s take it on and have that clear mindset.
“I want that to continue, and we’ve had that in the second half of the season.
“We’ve taken on every game, and I’ve been reminding the players nothing is done, because I want that edge to their performances.
“It doesn’t guarantee anything but gives you a whole better chance if you’re in the right frame of mind and understanding of the job.
“I think the squad have had their challenges but they mature as players and in their know how of the Premier League, and that’s in life as well, the longer you spend at a level, the more it becomes more the norm, and once you normalise something usually you handle it better.
“That’s improved over the last few years, and you also can’t take it for granted, as a crutch to lean on, you’ve got to make sure you’re on every detail in every performance, more so against the big teams.”