Burnley boss Sean Dyche not getting carried away by unbeaten run ahead of Spurs clash
It’s one of the more famous Sean Dyche-isms.
“I don’t get too high with the highs, or too low with the lows.”
Burnley are on a six-game unbeaten run which has taken them from the jaws of the relegation dogfight, to the race for Europe.
On the other hand, Spurs come to Turf Moor on Saturday having lost their last four games in all competitions.
The Clarets can leapfrog Jose Mourinho’s side with a win, but Dyche, as ever, isn’t looking too far ahead - the ‘one game at a time’ mantra serving him and his players well.
Dyche stayed calm in choppy waters around the turn of the year and isn’t getting carried away now things are going well - he knows the ultimate reckoning for the club’s season will come with the league table after 38 games.
Dyche said: “We talk generally about it as a group, but I don’t preach to them and say ‘we should be like this’, I just think it rubs off that the achievement is for the end of the season.
“It’s certainly paid us back when we’ve had good times, pushing for promotions or Europa, so if it works on a positive way, if you’re having a negative time it should still work.
“There should be calm, ‘hang on a minute, this is where we’re at’, as long as there’s some truth and authenticity, which I always deliver.
“It’s just my style of working, it doesn’t make it right, it’s just my style.”
There was calm in December when Burnley lost 5-0 at Spurs, one of a run of seven defeats in nine Premier League games before the current run of form.
Much is made of Nick Pope’s penalty save from Leicester’s Jamie Vardy in the first game of the current six-match unbeaten sequence, which, at the time looked a turning point for the season.
Such moments are not always obvious until you have that hindsight, however.
Dyche looked back to a 3-1 win over Bristol City at Turf Moor early in his reign in 2013, when Lee Grant saved a spot kick from Steven Davies to make it 2-2: “You never quite know, I remember Granty saving a penalty against Bristol City, and that was probably a turning point for me back in the day, when we were getting booed off every week.
“That probably had a big say in keeping me in the job, and the rest is history.
“That was a big turning point, but at the time, you just think, ‘okay, we’ve won that one, park that, we’ve got to move forward’.
“The Popey one, looking back, was an important moment, a big part of us winning the game, everything calms again, and then you move forward.
“Defining the moments in football are often after the event, if you’d told me at that moment that would change the run of the next five games, I’d have said there were no guarantees.
“But now you look, and think it was actually a good moment to click things back into gear, because after that we’ve delivered better and more team-bound performances.”
Dyche knows his team will have to produce again against Spurs, regardless of which players they may have missing, with Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min out, and a number of other doubts.
Spurs could have to play without a recognised striker, but Dyche won’t change his preparations or his side’s framework: “I think, against anyone, you want to have a good shape, and I think they can overload the midfield if they choose to, and get runners from deeper positions.
“They still have some very good players, very productive players, players who can turn a game quickly.
“On the other hand, they’re having a tough, sticky patch, whichever way you put it, a bit more noise about them in not such a positive manner.
“For the last four or five years it’s been pretty positive all the time.
“This is probably their first spell, but certainly not for Jose, he’s a top manager, I’ve always said that, no questions on him at all, but he’ll have been down this road before in its various guises down the years at the clubs he’s been at.
“Our players will be aware of the noise, but it goes out of the window, the whistle blows and you’ve still got to take them on, to play well to win a game, any game in the Premier League.
“And they are still a good side.”
There have been suggestions Mourinho has told the Spurs board he can only prioritise Burnley or the Champions League last 16 second leg at RB Leipzig on Tuesday night - not both.
But Dyche thinks Mourinho’s experience means Spurs will cope: “We had a spell of it in the Europa season, where you’re measuring up a lot of different things, particularly if you have injuries, that only exacerbates the situation.
“But Jose has been around it long enough to know the ups and and downs and ins and outs of European football, the challenges of it.
“Probably it’s the first time he’s had key injuries, not just a few, but key injuries. But they have other top players there, so he’ll know his team and how it’s affecting him, but from our point of view, we’ve got to be right on our mettle.”