Sean Dyche celebrated the growth of his players after the Clarets virtually assured that their immediate futures would lie in the Premier League.
Saturday’s stalemate with West Brom, in the club’s penultimate fixture at Turf Moor this season, was an indicator of the squad’s maturation after the Baggies inflicted a 4-0 thrashing at the Hawthorns earlier in the campaign.
I must give special mention to Kevin Long, to come from nowhere for his first-ever Premier League start, and deliver that was excellentSean Dyche
But the Burnley boss acknowledges that their development runs much deeper than a single result. The Clarets, despite all their critics, have gradually become acclimatised to playing in the top tier while mastering the art of self-preservation.
After Hull City effectively slipped out of touching distance from the Clarets, Dyche said: “We’ve had a bit of money spent this season, but it’s very difficult at the top level without major finance.
“We’ve financed it to a reasonable degree, for a club of this size, but its more about wages. Teams in this league get players on free transfers and pay them astronomical wages, but we’re good on both because we have to be.
“There’s no badge of honour, I’m not questioning anyone, it’s the way this club has to work.
“I manage what I’m given to manage and take great pride in the fact we all see beyond that, my players do, and we get on with it and work hard to get what we do.”
Dyche added: “It means there’s growth in the players, over a season the mindset has changed. West Brom done us out of town at their place, well you can clearly see there’s a big shift from then, so that means the players are growing, and more used to what it is to be a Premier League player.
“That’s a difficult thing for players, to feel more assured in the Premier League, because you’re playing against players that are better than you’re used to normally, and that’s no disrespect to the Championship, which is a fine league, but there is a gap.
“I’m very pleased with how the players have adjusted, to learn to where they are now, but it’s got to continue.
“We still want to go out and give good performances this season because it’s important, it’s part of our mentality, how we go about our business.”
That evolutionary process, and strength of character, filters right through the squad with Dyche affording special mention to those that haven’t had much experience in the starting XI.
James Tarkowski was handed his first Premier League start in the victory over Crystal Palace, contributing to a 10th clean sheet of the term at Selhurst Park, while Kevin Long was bestowed with the same luxury at the weekend.
After the 26-year-old Irishman made his first start for senior side in almost three-and-a-half years, Dyche said: “I must give special mention to Kevin Long, to come from nowhere for his first-ever Premier League start, and deliver that was excellent. A new partnership with Tarky, a tough, important game, excellent.
“I’m really pleased with the work the staff give the players, and their attitude towards it.
“The people not in the team are absolutely vital, that their heads are right and they stay focused on the job.
“When it’s your turn, if you come and see me and say ‘why am I not playing?’, you have to be ready to deliver, and the only way to do that is by training properly and look after yourself, and they do here.”
He added: “I have great pride in them and my staff, it’s important that connection is there and we treat them well, but they have to be ready.
“Longy’s physical shape was good, his shape, his habits, and its not easy coming into games like that when it’s your first at this level, and delivering a performance.
“I think, to not be involved for so long, fantastic for his professionalism, and Tarky last week.”
Meanwhile, Dyche is expecting his previously ever-present central defensive pairing to return in time for the clash against the Cherries at the Vitality Stadium.
“Keano was pretty close, I’m expecting him to be back providing he has a good week,” he said. “Ben Mee has made a bit of a recovery as well, so he has a chance and could come back into the thinking.”