Sean Dyche insists his Burnley players deserve all the credit as they close in on ensuring another season of Premier League football.
Burnley go into Monday’s meeting with Champions League-chasing West Ham nine points clear of the relegation zone having played one game less than 18th-placed Fulham.
After a season of challenges on and off the pitch, Burnley’s achievement in recovering from taking only two points from their first seven games has been likened to qualifying for Europe in 2018, with Dyche saying it is down to the hard work of his squad.
“It’s been difficult for so many reasons,” Dyche said. “I don’t like to overegg it because we’re not there, we’ve still got a lot of work to do, but even to get to where we are now has been difficult.
“There have been loads of challenges on and off the pitch: a sale that took forever, a lack of investment from the outgoing board at an important time, releasing players at an important time, the new board coming in at a difficult time at the end of a window, and loads of injuries.
“But beyond all of those challenges we’ve shown a really strong jaw, as we got tagged with a few years ago by Ian Holloway. We’ve been very strong mentally, and that’s from the players as much as myself and the staff.
“I’m always proud of the players. Win, lose, or draw, they always give us a lot. I said in my first ever presser here, the only thing I’ll guarantee is sweat on the shirt and that meant players who give a lot to do what we do.
“Nothing’s done yet but we’ve gone a long way and now it’s about finishing it off with a strong run of performances to make sure we do what we want to do and that’s be in the Premier League.”
Chris Wood will go into Monday’s match looking to build on a run of six goals in as many games for Burnley, highlighted by his hat-trick in the 4-0 win at Wolves last weekend which took the New Zealand striker to double figures for a fourth consecutive campaign with the Clarets.
The 29-year-old had a string of loan spells earlier in his career but has been able to establish himself as a consistent performer at Turf Moor.
“Woody has found a home here but he worked to make it happen,” Dyche said. “He hasn’t hoped it will happen, he’s worked on his game and his understanding of what we do to make sure this becomes his home.”
Burnley struggled for goals early in the season, but the partnership Wood has formed with Matej Vydra in recent weeks has made them a much more consistent scoring threat.
“The game is still the best coach,” Dyche said. “We prompt people, of course we do, but we sometimes let them find their own way. Early in the season when we weren’t scoring goals we didn’t overanalyse their game or pick faults.
“We speak to them to tell them it will come, keep getting in the right areas and it will come. It was almost deloading it, telling them to get into the zone of not overthinking it, to play their natural game and the performances will come.
“They mature as we prompt and push them to mature, but it’s always them. It’s always the players and they get the credit as they should do.”