Jack Cork believes that the predicament in which two of his former clubs find themselves in this season serves as a life lesson in the Premier League.
The 28-year-old midfielder, who had spells with tomorrow’s opponents Swansea City as well as Southampton in the top flight, stated that their respective struggles demonstrate how you can’t afford to stand still or switch off for a second at this level.
The Swans, who lifted the League Cup five years ago, consequently qualifying for the Europa League, hadn’t finished below 12th in five campaigns until they survived by the skin of their teeth last term.
And they’re in turmoil at present with Carlos Carvalhal’s side positioned outside the relegation zone by virtue of goal difference.
The Saints are in a similar situation. While the club has culminated the previous four seasons in the top eight, gaining European football with a sixth place finish in 2015/16, the League Cup runners up are currently involved in a desperate scrap to retain their status.
A 3-2 win at the Hawthorns against West Brom at the weekend lifted Mauricio Pellegrino’s men out of the bottom three ahead of Liverpool’s visit to St Mary’s on Sunday.
“The Premier League is a very difficult division,” said the midfielder. “I’ve said it before, it’s hard because you do so well and then you try to set targets for the next season to do better but it’s really tough.
“Every team wants to do well and every team wants to try and finish in the top half of the table. There are obviously always teams that don’t achieve that.
“To keep getting results throughout the season is difficult. It takes a massive effort to try and stay in this league.
“It can all change so quickly. Every season you’ve got to start again and treat it as something new. You’ve got to have another go at it and you can never get carried away because it is very tough.
“Hopefully they’ll be alright because they’ve got good players and good squads. I’m sure they’ll be fine.”
The England international doesn’t think that there’s any threat of the players taking their eye off the ball while Sean Dyche is at the helm.
The Clarets are well on course for eclipsing their best ever finish in the Premier League, requiring just five points from the remaining 12 fixtures to do so, but Cork insists that the club won’t ever get carried away.
“No, he definitely won’t allow us to switch off,” said Cork. “He’s always setting new goals and keeping on top of things so we can keep going and working hard. That’s one of the main things that he wants from us.
“We don’t want to get carried away so we’ll see how this season goes and then set new goals for next season and go on from there.
“The new contract is massive. He obviously brought me to this club and he’s one of the main reasons that I signed here.
“He’s been great with me since I’ve been here, he’s given me confidence and a lot of the other lads confidence too. You know what you’re going to get with him, he’s honest.
“It’s good to know that somebody like him wants to stay at the club over interest from everywhere else.”
Meanwhile, Cork is looking forward to going back to his old stomping ground. The former Chelsea academy player, who hasn’t missed a second of league action so far, spent two-and-a-half years at the Liberty Stadium before being allowed to leave by Paul Clement.
“It’s Swansea and then Southampton so I’m looking forward to them,” he said. “We’ll have to see how results go and what position they’re in but they’re both having a difficult season at the minute. Hopefully we can go there and take advantage of that.
“Swansea have had two really good results at home against Liverpool and Arsenal so it will be a tough place to go.
“They’ll have confidence being at home so we’ll have to be right on top of it like we have been and try and get the points.
“It’s still a lot of the same people. When I’ve looked at the bench in previous games there have been a lot of old faces, old staff.
“It’s always nice playing against your old teams, going back to the stadium and seeing people that I used to speak to. I’m looking forward to it.”