Sean Dyche was delighted to hit 100 wins as Burnley boss, at a ground that hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for himself or the Clarets.
Match report: West Brom 1, Burnley 2
Dyche notched up a century in all competitions with a 2-1 success at the Hawthorns against seemingly doomed West Brom, where he broke his leg as a young professional.
It was Burnley’s first success here since 1969, and Dyche spoke of a landmark victory: “I’m really pleased with that, I didn’t know that.
“We’ve only lost nine in the Premier League this season and that’s a marker in itself when you’re Burnley Football Club because that’s not an easy thing to do.”
Burnley produced a composed display on the ball, scoring in each half though Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood, before Salomon Rondon pulled one back late on, and Dyche added: “Certainly in the first half it was a very confident display, they got about us a bit more the last seven or eight minutes of the first half and the feeling changed in the second half, which it often does away from home, particularly when a team is fighting.
“But overall I thought we deserved the win, the feeling was good and I think that’s where we’re moving forward, where we can come away from home and have that tiny bit more assured edge to us.
“Last year that was lacking, but this year it’s grown as the season has gone on.
“That comes with winning games and we’ve done that this season.”
And on breaking his Hawthorns hoodoo: “I’ve had some not so good days, including breaking my leg here as a 17-year-old young pro at Forest, it’s not always been the best stadium I’ve been to.
“But that aside, I think the club in general haven’t done so well here, so it’s good for the mentality of the players, because a number of them have played here with us the last season and four years ago when we didn’t perform at all, whereas today we did.”
It was a third successive win, after three weeks without a game, and Dyche praised his players’ focus: “The mentality is good, I was pleased with that after a number of weeks off, to stay focused on the job.
“It’s an awkward place to come at the minute, all the noise about what’s happening here, they’re still an experienced group of players, so to see through that and get on with our performance was really pleasing.”
For Barnes, it was the fourth-successive game he has scored in, as he hit nine for the season: “He continues to adapt to the challenge. His game has improved season on season with us, and I think players piece it all together.
“With football, everyone wants it yesterday, it’s just the way we are now. A team built yesterday, players to come in and miraculously all work at the same time, and it’s not that easy.
“Barnesy is a good sign of someone year on year who sticks in, keeps developing, learning and improving.
“He’s another one of a number of players who keep doing that with us. And obviously a big measurement this week was with Tarky and Popey.
“We’ve had a few do that and that’s pleasing for myself and my staff.”
Barnes and Wood have both scored in their last three outings, but Wood got his first start since December at the expense of Jeff Hendrick: “Jeff’s done superbly well in that number 10, top of the midfield, it’s not natural to him but he’s done that very well, but we wanted to see the two together. We want to keep winning games, but it’s important we find out what combinations can work, because we talk about season on season progression, we want to adapt to the challenge, but my job is to see beyond that, as well as the next game.
“GK got a game, he wouldn’t have but Johann pulled his calf the last two minutes of training on a Friday. We don’t think it’s a serious one but again, GK showed some glimpses of what he’s about, and it’s important for the constant building of the club and the team.
“But the focus will quickly go back onto next weekend.”
Burnley maintained their grip on seventh place, which looks like being enough for a Europa League spot, but Dyche is only looking at the next game: “The fans were singing about Europe after the first away win at Chelsea! I think our focus remains on the next game, that’s the most important. The lads are enjoying what we’re doing but they know the reality of the Premier League and how tough it is, and so do I.
“When you come out of it, you learn quickly. You don’t want it to happen again.
“They know they’ve got to keep working at it, we’re not the real deal and it’s a constant work in progress.
“If we keep performing and putting points on the table, the rest will take care of itself.”