Burnley boss Sean Dyche sees light at end of tunnel after tough season
But while the job is not quite done yet, he praised his players for putting themselves in a position where they can effectively secure a fourth-successive Premier League campaign with victory at home to Cardiff City on Saturday.
Burnley were in the bottom three at the halfway stage of the season, with a meagre 12 points.
But they have since taken 24 from 14 games, to put them eight clear of the Bluebirds, who occupy the last relegation slot.
Asked whether it has been his toughest season, Dyche said: “Well, it’s certainly up there, but every season is tough for different reasons.
“But it is tough at the top, we were going down the road of what was almost considered an impossible promotion in my first full season, but we did it. You get near the line and think ‘my goodness, is it just going to start going against us?’ and it didn’t.
“That’s just as tough in a different way, but, of course, when any manager is looking over their shoulder, it is a different scenario.
“But we’re not lacking in toughness. You have to align that with performances though, you can’t luck it out in the Premier League, you might get the odd one, and you can’t tough it out all the time.
“You have to mix that with quality and understanding, and we’ve done that since Christmas, but we have to continue.”
Burnley’s results over the second half of the season would place them fifth in the form table, and Dyche is delighed with how his players have emerged from the fog.
“If we all have that magic moment of knowing what we do, then in theory you wouldn’t have too many bad runs. I think the diligence to stick to the task from the staff to explain to the players the challenges of the first half of the season and how we correct that.
“And the players deserve a massive amount of credit.
“We have roughly had virtually, every week since the Europa League started, about 16 to 17 players fit.
“We have been very unfortunate with injuries but the players have looked beyond that and keep performing.
“They keep challenging themselves and they keep working.
“I did say at the beginning of the season that I was proud of everything they had achieved and continue to work to achieve, and I think when you are trying to turn things around, you need them to understand that there is still a great value that we put upon them as people and not just players.
“We respect them for what they have done for this club.
“That doesn’t waver and we add in some better detail with performances, some players playing at the top of their game, some changes that I felt I had to make and they have helped and you sort of get back on track.
“But there is not a magic moment when it all just works.
“If football was that easy there would be loads of people doing my job.”