Clarets boss Sean Dyche has spoken of his respect for Middlesbrough’s Aitor Karanka, as they prepare do battle on Boxing Day.
The Spaniard took issue with some of Dyche’s comments last season, as they fought for promotion.
Burnley finished as Championship winners, with Boro runners-up, but Karanka reacted on a number of occasions to Dyche’s observations about Boro’s spending power.
Dyche felt “a lot had been made” of his opinions, saying, of Boro, and Derby: “I think they have taken, certainly Championship. spending to a new level.”
Before the sides’ 1-1 draw at Turf Moor in April, Karanka responded: “Imagine if I had a team, 10 or 12 players from the Premier League, and the chairman then sends me Gray and Tarkowski. Then, maybe we would be in the Premier League in February!”
Dyche insists there were no mind games on his part: “Not from myself, not at all, I have the utmost respect for all managers we come up against.
My respect runs deep for all managers, including Aitor, I think he’s done a really good job there with the challenge to get them back in the Premier LeagueSean Dyche
“There’s never been any angle from my way against any manager we’ve played against,
“I just concentrate on the team, and if the team can be ready to go and play and win games – that’s my focus.
“My respect runs deep for all managers, including Aitor, I think he’s done a really good job there with the challenge to get them back in the Premier League.”
The game is a sell out – a far cry from when Dyche’s first Boxing Day game four years ago, when the Clarets beat Derby 2-0 at home in front of 13,779: “Four years ago, people may not have thought that possible, but it is, for the second time in three years, and hopefully beyond.
“Can we take it to a time when that is a regular occurence in the Premier League? That’s the challenge.”
Burnley’s home form is the sixth best in the Premier League, and he added: “Our home form is strong enough to be recognised throughout the league, and for a small club like ourselves, that’s fantastic. It’s important we continue our performances and the strength we’ve shown.”
Dyche could have wideman Johann Berg Gudmundsson available after he played and scored in a 3-0 win over Preston in a behind-closed-doors game at the Barnfield Training Centre on Wednesday : “Johann will be back in contention, he’s training well.”