Sean Dyche accepts finishing in the top six is “not impossible, but improbable.”
While Leicester City stunned the football world by winning the Premier League as 5000/1 rank outsiders two years ago - with Southampton finishing sixth - the recognised ‘Big Six’ of Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Spurs are more often than not immovable objects at the top end of the table.
Only Everton, Newcastle and Aston Villa can join Leicester and Southampton in breaking into that elite group in the last 10 years, and Newcastle and Villa were later relegated.
Burnley have been in and around the top six after a superb first half of the season, and currently sit seventh, having leapt into the Champions League places for 24 hours just over a fortnight ago.
But while anything can happen in football, at the Foxes showed, Dyche knows breaking the ‘Big Six’s monopoly is a huge task, taking their vast resources into account.
He said: “I think it is very difficult. We saw with Leicester it is not impossible, but improbable.
“Nothing is impossible in football. But sometimes probability outweighs possibility. The way it is going is it is harder and harder.
“Forgetting about the quality of coaching, if you have a team like Man City spending 100m on three full-backs that is an interesting thing.
“Even Liverpool if you have someone spending £75m on a centre-back there are not many clubs who can compete with that.
“That £75m is probably pushing our transfer budget forever probably. Or very close. That’s one player against the history of another club – in the same division.
“So that’s going to be hard to narrow the gaps on. True development of players takes time. If you are buying in the highest end of the market constantly, in any walk of life, there is a fair chance it is going to operate in a higher fashion.
“People get taken on for jobs by their skill set and how good they can deliver. If you get a group of that where you go ‘oh he didn’t work, in with another one’.
“If there are a clutch of clubs with that power, and a lot who don’t. It’s hard to keep that gap where you can have real challenge all the way down the league. The marvel of the Premier League is you can still have one result. Huddersfield beat Manchester United, so there are random results which occur.”
But Dyche feels the Burnley fans are enjoying the ride, not raising their expectations: “I don’t know all the fans but I do keep tabs with a few people who I trust, regulars home and away, and I think there’s a healthy awareness of the challenge of being Burnley, but, they’re seeing a team that is giving everything, and now, giving everything with a bit more quality, a bit more assuredness, a bit more whatever it is that keeps you going.
“I don’t do blind faith, I do positive reality, there has to be a reality to the challenge, we’re not the real deal, far from it, but I do believe we’re moving forward and we’re improving as a group.
“It’s very rare in the business world you get judged on a weekly or twice weekly basis on one result, the City has six-monthly turnover results, yearly results, but behind the literal results of the league table, what is going on? Are we improving, I think this group is but still has a long way to go.
“The fans who’ve seen us over five years get that, those who’ve seen us over a year or so, because your crowds jump, maybe their view of it is a bit different.
“They’re used to seeing us in the Premier League.
“But for my whole time, a lot of fans know where we were, know the steps that have been put in place to get us where we are, and that brings that bit of reality.
“So enjoy it, we don’t get too carried away. It’s a bit of a Burnley way, get too big for your boots and people give you a quick pat down, a tap on the head. So I tend not to get too big for my boots