CLARETS boss Eddie Howe is looking for consistency from his young side after they ended a run of two straight defeats with a deserved win at Coventry.
Burnley’s fortunes have fluctuated so far this season, which is to be expected when the side have an average age of 23, as they did at the Ricoh Arena.
But Howe has urged his players to match the standards they have set in the wins against Derby, Nottingham Forest, Millwall and Coventry, as well as the draw with leaders Southampton.
He said: “We’re trying to build something here. It’s been a huge change in the summer throughout the club and we’re trying to form a new team. That’s always difficult when you’ve got to get results while trying to put things in place.
“It’s been incredibly difficult, but we feel we’ve got the basis of a really talented group of young players. Character, attitude and team spirit – all those things are so important, and I think the celebrations for the winner proved how much we wanted to win.
“We just need to find that every week. We need to find that consistency. That’s our next challenge.”
The players raced en masse to the bench to celebrate Charlie Austin’s winner, showing the bond between the squad and staff, and that delighted Howe: “It gives us hope. We try to work with the players every day.
“We want to build that bond and that relationship because I think it’s the best way to success.
“There are several ways you can manage people – you can manage them through fear.
“We try to do it in a different way by trying to get the best out of the players and make the most of their careers by working really hard on the training ground and trying to get them to fulfil their potential.
“Hopefully they appreciate how we’re trying to go about things. They want to be successful for Burnley and hopefully we can do that in the coming years.”
And he looked back on a strange game, played in a muted atmosphere in the first half, before exploding into life on the hour: “I thought we were playing far too deep and Coventry were passing the ball around us and they looked like a good side.
“You thought ‘this could be an awkward afternoon; which is why I made the change. I felt we needed to freshen up the system.
“Once we made the change I thought we were by far the better team for the remainder of the first half and the majority of the second.”
Coventry scored against the run of play, only for Ross Wallace to equalise, before Austin snatched an injury-time winner after City went down to 10 men when Gael Bigirimana was sent off for a two-footed lunge on Kieran Trippier.
“It was hugely disappointing (Coventry scoring), because, at the beginning of the second half when we came out we took the game to them and did really well. We created a number of chances. Charlie was on the end of most things and you think it’s only a matter of time before we score.
“But Coventry go up the other end and score a goal out of nothing which was hugely disappointing because at that stage you think ‘here we go again’. We’re losing 1-0 in a game when we should be in front.
“We got a really important goal at an important time. It gave us that belief that we could chase the winner.
“It was a really good move, a brave header by Jay Rod, which he’s feeling the effects of now, and a good dummy by Charlie Austin and Ross’s really composed finish.”
Then came the sending off, and Howe admitted: “We were sort of sniffing blood in a way because we felt we could go on and win it.
“At times I felt we pushed too many bodies forward – it was almost kamikaze because we were desperate for the three points. But fair play to the lads, that’s how much they wanted to win the game.
“I thought the sending off was probably the right decision but it was harsh. He’s an honest kid and there was no malice intended, it was just one of those things. Youthful exuberance. It’s always sad to see someone get sent off.”
Keith Treacy got his first start in a month, but was replaced by Austin five minutes from the break, having looked very much off the pace. Howe explained: “He’s fine. Every player who goes on the pitch, no matter who they are, or how old they are, has to perform. If they don’t perform then they won’t stay on the pitch.
“I know what he’s capable of, he’s a very talented lad. He’s got unbelievable ability and really could play at a higher level than he is, but, first and foremost, he’s got to get in my team week in week out.
“We’ve got to help him do that, but he’s also got to help us in return.”