Burnley boss Sean Dyche: ‘Good run shows we are back!’
The club’s DNA has been restored since Boxing Day, the ‘Legs, Hearts, Minds’ mantra that adorns the walls at the Barnfield Training Centre has been portrayed in performances and that has brought a 15-point return from the 21 available to them.
Burnley’s victory over Brighton at the weekend, coupled with Southampton’s defeat at home to Cardiff City, ensured it was the Saints who joined Huddersfield Town and Fulham in the bottom three heading into the break in the calendar.
The Clarets may now have the Bluebirds and Newcastle United as a buffer from the relegation zone, and they may have equalled the return of the Seagulls and Crystal Palace in the top flight, but Dyche acknowledges that the battle isn’t won yet.
“We’ve had to fight for everything we’ve got and we’ll continue to do so,” he said. “Last year was different, everyone knows that.
“Historically there’s fighting to stay in the Premier League or get out of the Championship.
“They’ve got a strong jaw and I think that’s coming back to how we play with the energy and belief.
“The honesty of the group I admire, the work ethic in training and in games. The team will give everything to try and win, we’re back to that. It needs safeguarding – it can’t be taken for granted, it’s the Premier League, it’s tough. We’ve had a great run and we’ve got to continue it.
The only way we can do that is to perform with that mentality with all of the things I’ve just spoken about. That’s coming back in to us, it’s a powerful thing that we’ve had before and we’re using it now.”
While their recovery has been the result of a collective effort, there is one member of the squad that has been singled out for praise. Dwight McNeil’s run in the first team has coincided with the Clarets’ rich vein of form in the top flight. The 19-year-old has certainly looked the part and has chipped in with a goal and three assists in the last seven games.
Dyche said: “It doesn’t get a mention, but Dwight McNeil came in at the same time (as Tom Heaton). He’s been fantastic – 19 years old running around the Premier League enjoying his football, fantastic. Tom’s definitely played his part, Dwight as well. He’s got another assist today (against Brighton). He’s a young man with a bright future as long as he keeps working hard, which I believe he will. He’s got a good group that will look after him.
“Dwight’s new to the Premier League; 19, that’s a big thing. You don’t have many 19 year olds rolling around the Premier League and not many in the fight scene. He’s handling himself very well. Not just Tom, certainly everyone as a collective, but certainly that young man.
“By the way, the resilience thing about our group. We’ve lost two important players in Robbie Brady and Johann Berg Gudmundsson. We’ve got four defenders on the bench, that’s not the norm.
“We lost them yesterday and the group’s gone ‘right, ok, let’s get on with it.’ They believe in each other. Jeff Hendrick playing out of position again.
“I admire the players for that, no excuses, we’re a group so let’s get on with it. That’s a powerful thing.”