CLARETS boss Eddie Howe believes his side’s start to the season will serve as a stark reminder to help steer his players away from complacency.
The midweek triumph at the City Ground, their eighth success in 11 outings, saw the Clarets stay on course for their play-off pursuit. Howe’s side go in to tomorrow’s Championship encounter with Peterborough as one of the league’s form teams, with only Birmingham boasting a better record over the last seven fixtures.
But Howe maintains that neither he, or his players, will be getting too carried away just yet. “A lot of people have been waiting for us to falter but we’re just enjoying the run while we’re in it and we want to stay in it, we want to keep winning games.
“I think what this league has taught us previously is that you can’t look too far ahead and you can’t get ahead of yourself.
“Peterborough is a tough game, they’re a free scoring side and they will cause us problems from an attacking sense.
“We’ve got to make sure that we don’t get complacent, that’s our big challenge, that we don’t get over confident and remember the tough times at the start of the season.
“I think it’s a good reminder for us.”
Despite Burnley’s recent form, a place in the division’s coveted top six continues to elude them. Howe admits that it’s been a frustrating period in terms of their static position in the table, but he’s happy for other clubs to light up the headlines.
“In some respects we’re not being talked about, I don’t think we’re being talked about at all as challengers this season and I think that suits us, we’re quite happy with that,” claimed Howe.
“Let everyone else catch the headlines and do what they’ve got to do. We’ve just got to go about our business and keep trying to win games. That’s all we can do.
“We’re certainly not getting carried away and we’re not going to big ourselves up. We are on a good run of form and hopefully teams will begin to take us seriously. But we’ve just got to try and hang on in there.”
Howe added: “I think with the start of our season we’ve been playing catch-up for a long time, with these wins we’re slowly closing the gap on the teams above us but it has seemed to have taken forever.
“We seem to win games but don’t really go anywhere in the league. It’s been hugely frustrating for everybody that our league position looks all right but we want to make that final leap where we get up there, of course we do.
“Hopefully we’ll time our run.”
Howe’s tenure to date has been a challenge, but one that he’s relished and overcome with aplomb. He’s pulled together a young squad, a group that he’s always shown belief in, that continues to develop and improve week in week out. And Howe believes that the fight, desire and spirit shown by his players has helped bring everyone associated with the club together.
“I certainly feel the supporters are getting to understand the team now and beginning to appreciate the team, which is so important,” he said.
“I think they see a young team who are really keen to do well and now everyone is fighting for the club and putting their bodies on the line and working extremely hard. That’s all supporters want to see, they want to see players giving their all for the club and for the badge and I think they’re seeing that now.
“It’s a two-way thing and I think they’ve responded and started to get behind the boys. If they can continue to do that, especially at home where we really need their support in the tough times as well as the good times, then we’ve got a good chance.”
He added: “I think that’s vitally important, the people of Burnley want to see a team that represents its town and the people.
“Hopefully by doing the right things and by being professional every day and really wanting to win in all that we do, that’s reflecting in the performance on a Saturday and that’s what the people of Burnley really want to see.
“Hopefully they’re beginning to see that now week in week out.
“I think team spirit can be underestimated, there is a lot in that and in our recent performances you can see how close the lads are, how much they’re working for each other and what it means to them to win and to score goals.
“To see everyone celebrating together, just to see the players interacting with the fans at the end of the game (against Forest), showing their appreciation for the support we had, a huge following on a cold Tuesday night, means a lot to see so many numbers there.”
Howe added young Derry City full-back Danny Lafferty to the Turf Moor ranks on Monday, a player he is excited to see progress at the club.
“He’s an attacking left back, he’s got a lovely left foot and you can see he’s had a good education at Celtic where they’ve obviously worked their players really well technically,” said Howe.
“He’s got a wand of a left foot, he’s got great delivery and he got nine goals last year as well with a mixture of ways of scoring them, from set plays and headers as well.
“I think he’ll add a lot to us once we get him fit and fully integrated into the squad.
“First and foremost he’s going to have to earn his place in the squad and the team; a team at the moment that’s performing really well.”
He added: “It’s good to have him in the background as and when we need him.
“Fitness wise he’s obviously a little bit behind, it’s close season in Ireland.
“I think they’re just starting pre-season again now so he hasn’t done a lot of fitness work.
“From that point of view he’s a few weeks away but from a playing point of view once he’s fit he’ll probably need a bit of bedding in, it’s a big step up in level but I wouldn’t hesitate to play him if we need him.
“I think he’s in a similar mould (to Kieran Trippier) in that his first thought is that he wants to attack.
“I think the big thing with Kieran is that as the season has progressed his defending has improved no end.
“You’ve got to get both phases of the game right to be a successful full-back. It will be good to see how Danny progresses in his time with us.
“I’m sure if he shows the right attitude, which we believe he’s got, then he can have a good time with us.”
The Clarets currently sit ninth in the table, just three points off those elusive play-off spots. Howe is determined to build on current form on home soil, with seven points from the last three games, by beating Posh, though he’s aware that it won’t be an easy task.
“It would be nice to keep our good run going.
“Our home form’s actually been okay of late, I know we’re coming off the back of a 0-0 draw against Derby but we followed that up with some good results to make that point perhaps look better than it did on the day.
“We’d love to return to winning ways but we won’t underestimate Peterborough at all, it’s going to be a difficult game.
“We know in this league you have to be at your best to win.”
Howe added: “I think Peterborough are a dangerous side, they’re dangerous in that they do commit bodies forward and do have good attacking players, they’re quite open in their gameplan.
“I’m not sure whether you’d say that would suit us or not, we’ll wait and see.
“On their day they can be a really good side, they’ve won at some good grounds and ground out some good points as well, and they beat us earlier in the season so it will be a difficult afternoon.”