Clarets boss Sean Dyche believes his players can handle the pressure that comes with leading the Championship table.
Though the Clarets are proving to be the division’s ‘surprise’ package, Dyche insisted that his side would have been on the radar of their rivals well before jumping above QPR at the summit.
“When you’re top of the league you naturally go above the radar,” said September’s SkyBet Championship Manager of the Month nominee. “I’m happy to be what we are and that’s a competitive side, a side that can look down the tunnel and look at the group around them that can go and compete. It’s a great marker and you can’t underestimate that. Long may it continue.
“The obvious challenge is that there’s bigger clubs than ours with massive budgets and players everywhere but that doesn’t give them a guaranteed licence for success. We can be successful, especially if we can keep delivering and keep this mentality and fitness and remain injury free.
“There have been a lot of good things said about us for the last five or six games. I don’t think that’s a radical change, I think people have been recognising us as a fair side already. So I think the players are getting used to that and delivered it well tonight.”
Dyche added: “From the moment they reported back for pre-season the players have thought about what we did last year and how we did it. They’ve been very open-minded and they’ve taken on a lot of information and a lot of work that we thought was important. They’ve been delivering, there’s no doubt about that.
“It is a tough division and a lot was made of things out of our control such as finances and the size of the squad. At the end of the day, regardless of those challenges, I’ve got a group of players that I believe in.”
Dyche has formulated a potent brand of football that is steadily attracting supporters back to Turf Moor, but it’s all facets of the game that has impressed the Burnley boss to date. The Clarets have shown that they can mix quality with the arduous graft and physicality off the ball, which Dyche describes as “framework and freedom”.
“The whole shape and energy of the team is very good and there’s plenty of quality,” Dyche said. “We’re delivering on all levels. Tactically, when the opposition has the ball, we’re in good shape, we’re then transferring that energy in to the attack, when we’ve got the ball we can shift it quickly through the opposition, and in transition there’s no lack of fight. We’re mixing it well.
“The good stuff always looks after itself, no matter what team you are. When you’re on it and performing you can win football matches. I think the secret to a season is to do the small details in-between, the ugly things, the things that people don’t notice. But I notice them, my staff notice them, and the players are beginning to take more ownership of it.”
He added: “They’re willing to do the ugly things, they’re willing to do the game management and they’re willing to do the bits in-between. If we have to grind we’ll grind and if we have to win with quality we’ll win with quality. It’s a case of how many times you can do that over a season. It’s going well at the moment. As a group we want to be relentless with our detail and our habits and delivering performances.
“At any level of football - and I’ve played in them all apart from the Premier League - you’ve got to have that mix. Our players are showing good signs of finding many different ways to win. Tactically there’s a good shape and we’re playing with the freedom to open teams up.”