Burnley boss Sean Dyche still focusing on 40-point barrier
Clarets boss Sean Dyche still has a minimum target of 40 points, with his side on the brink of securing a sixth-successive season in the Premier League.
Burnley moved on to 33 points – seven clear of Fulham in 18th – with nine games to play after the superb 2-1 win at Everton on Saturday evening.
Over the past decade, an average of 36.1 points has been sufficient to stay up in that time.
While 40 points is regarded as the safety line by many, only three clubs have gone down on 40 points or more since the Premier League dropped down to 20 teams in 1995 – Sunderland in 1996-97, Bolton a season later on 40, and West Ham on 42 points in 2002-03.
Dyche, however, prefers to err on the side of caution.
He sets out each season to try and get to 40 points as soon as possible, and if there are games to spare, to try and kick on and see what can be achieved.
Burnley finished seventh in 2017-18 and 10th last season with a similar ethos, and, looking at the points required to seal survival, he said: “We don’t actually look at it like that, but if you look back in time I think it was West Ham who went down with 42 or something like that.
“But historically it’s been lower than 40.
“We’ve always used an idea that if you get to 40 quickly, and then it’s like, ‘What comes next?’
“We don’t set a goal. We don’t start a season and say, ‘Right we want to get to 40’, but our goal is to try and get to 40 quickly and take the next thing that comes.”
Dyche has never been one to be concerned about the fluctuations of the league table during the season, judging a season’s work on the final standings, and he added:
“I don’t remember speaking about the league table all season or in any of my seasons. It is always the next game.
“The one I am always keen on is that table at the end of the season, and if you get that one right you know you have done well.
“The bit in the middle is the ups and topsy-turvy nature of the season.
“We focus on the next game, that is the thing I believe in.
“That is a key factor over a season for our players, it keeps them thirsty for the next game and the last one doesn’t owe you the next one.
“The mentality has to be right every single performance.”
That Burnley are in such good shape, having claimed only two points from their first seven games, after a transfer window in which the squad came out weaker rather than stronger, is testament to Dyche’s powers, and that of his players, who he has always had faith in.
He felt, one he had a fully-fit squad to select from again, his side would be competitive: “A lot of what’s happened this season has been due to injuries.
“Not having injuries doesn’t mean you are going to finish 20 points further up the league, but it gives you a chance.
“If you’ve got a good squad of players like ours, it has to improve your chances if you don’t have loads of injuries.
“That’s just logic. It has to improve your chances.”
And he remains proud of his players: “The pride in the playing groups I have had down the years has never wavered.
“At the beginning of the season we were stretched and had two points from seven games but I don’t remember ever questioning the pride I had in them, or the work ethic, belief or mentality.
"They give a lot to the cause, the shirt and the fans. A lot to themselves and the staff.
"When it works like at Everton, in an important game and a good game against high end opposition, then it just gives them that reward for all the effort and detail that they put in, so I am certainly very pleased for the players."