'Big achievement to stay in the Premier League' - Burnley boss Sean Dyche
Burnley are edging towards safety and hopefully a sixth-successive season in the Premier League.
But Sean Dyche doesn’t expect the challenge to get any easier if his side can stay above water after a testing season.
The Clarets, in 15th, are unbeaten in four league games, and sit six points above 18th-place Fulham with 13 games to play.
However, on Sunday, they begin a tricky run of fixtures, starting with a trip to Spurs (kick-off 2pm).
Burnley then host Leicester City and Arsenal, before taking on Everton at Goodison Park.
The Clarets, whose Turf Moor ground is the smallest in terms of capacity in the top flight, continue to punch above their weight at this level against big city clubs, and Dyche said: “That’s been the demand here for a long time, a town club backed fantastically well by the town, but it is a town club.
“If you have a ‘bigger picture’ sort of view of it all, it is actually a hell of an achievement I think for a club of this size to continue in the Premier League as long as we have been.
“I’m not saying that because I’m the manager, but I just think the mentality has been excellent, finding the balance of the business side of the club and putting enough at stake that you can improve has been difficult, but still doable, and we’ve managed to achieve that so far.
“The ongoing process of it, piecing together a side that can be at least competitive and productive – that’s the challenge, keeping the mentality right, keeping the players who are with you, then adding to it.
“That really is the biggest challenge, to keep it all going.
“But from a general football perspective, I think it’s been a very big achievement, what this club has done and what we are looking to do going forwards.”
Burnley have managed to hold on to their key players of late, although that could be tested in the summer, with centre-back James Tarkowski about to enter the last year of his contract, with the intention of moving on to a club pushing for Europe, to aid his England ambitions.
And recruitment has been a real issue – in the last five transfer windows, the only permanent senior signings have been Erik Pieters, Jay Rodriguez, Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Josh Brownhill, Will Norris and Dale Stephens.
The new owners had wished to impact the January window, but Dyche will have to wait until the summer to try and bolster his squad, which is the second oldest in the Premier League:
“The hardest thing over a longer period is the recruitment.
“Recruitment is very difficult in the Premier League, in all leagues to be fair.
“One of our major challenges is to keep developing the group we have, and then recruiting into that group to enhance it.
“The longevity of being in the Premier League, continuing, often revolves around the right recruitment.
“It’s easier for certain clubs who have got enough money where they put it in regardless, but this club hasn’t been like that and I don’t think it will be like that going forward.
“Possibly there might be a bit more money around – we don’t know until the next window.
“But I don’t think they’ll put hundreds of millions in like some clubs do.
“I think it will be an ongoing process of developing the group and also adding to it when we can.
“That is one of the hardest challenges, other than the obvious, to win games.”