Clarets boss Sean Dyche refuses to be intimidated by a Premier League schedule consisting of Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United and opening day opponents Chelsea.
While the make-up of Jose Mourinho’s Blues squad poses the threat of Belgium international Eden Hazard, new signing Cesc Fabregas and potential acquisition Diego Costa, the remainder of the campaign could conjure battles with the likes of Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure, Luis Suarez, Mesut Ozil, Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie – all of whom have been involved in the World Cup in Brazil.
After revising the fixture list, which begins with the 2009/10 champions, who haven’t lost their first outing of the term since a 2-1 reverse to Coventry City at Highfield Road in 1998, Dyche said: “There’s a couple of interesting chunks in the fixture list against teams that are likely to be competing at the top end of the table.
“There’s an interesting chunk around December time and a challenging period around March. Then there’s the first three of course. The Premier League is what it is - a very tough challenge. It doesn’t matter who you play.”
Dyche added: “It is, arguably, one of the best and toughest divisions in the world so it’s fantastic Burnley Football Club to be among that. It’s great for everyone concerned including myself, the staff and the players as well.”
And when the daunting on-field challenges ensue for his players, Dyche will be faced with demanding tests of his own when standing alongside an array of the globe’s most revered tacticians in Manuel Pellegrini, Mourinho, Arsene Wenger, Brendan Rodgers and Louis Van Gaal on the touchline.
However, it’s a challenge the three-time SkyBet Manager of the Month is relishing. “Some managers have more flexibility with the size of the squad and the quality within those squads, especially with the amount of money they spend on their players,” he said. “We like what we’ve got as a real group of people that want to challenge themselves to do well.
“Last year the players delivered the tactics that we thought were appropriate very well. There are twists and changes that we’ll be looking at in pre-season as we’re planning.
“But whatever tactics you employ the game remains the same - you’ve got to make sure you keep it shut at one end and open up the other. That won’t change - the only other important factor is what happens in-between.”
Meanwhile, Dyche has quashed speculation linking SkyBet Championship Player of the Year Danny Ings with a move away from Turf Moor.
The England Under 21 international, who scored 26 goals in all competitions for the Clarets last term, is understandably attracting interest from further afield with Southampton, who captured Jay Rodriguez two years ago, reportedly leading the chase for his signature.
“He’s been linked with everyone from Christmas onwards so there’s nothing to read in to that,” Dyche said. “It’s part and parcel for the careers of good players who have done really well.
“In a strange way we’re pleased there’s been all those rumours because the demand shows that our players are doing well. We’re even more pleased that nobody’s been linked enough to mean we’ve got to take care of business. Instead we can just get on with our own business.”