Matt Taylor sees no reason why his former club Burnley can’t become a constant presence in the Premier League’s top half.
Taylor, who scored four goal in 39 appearances in two seasons at Turf Moor, was delighted to see the Clarets finish seventh and earn a place in the Europa League in 2017/18.
And while this term was more of a struggle, before finishing 15th, the former Bolton and West Ham man believes the club can look up the table again, rather than over their shoulders.
Taylor, who has retired after a superb career which saw him spend 12 seasons in the top flight, said, speaking exclusively to 888sport: “I think Burnley can aim for the top 10.
“The main aspiration of any chairman outside of the top six is to stay in the Premier League, because the riches are so huge now it is vitally important they retain their status.
“So I’d imagine that’s the first thing the manager and chairman is thinking.
“But beyond that, why can’t Burnley go on to have a successful season?
“They’ve got some really, really good players and have a clear view of how they play.
“Each player is on board. So they can be successful.
But it’s all about building on what and who you are. “
Next season will be a fourth-successive Premier League campaign, and Taylor, a free transfer in 2014, wonders if the club can start to relax the purse strings: “Hopefully they will now be able to attract a better calibre of footballer for next season because if you asked me now ‘what are Burnley?’ the answer is they are an established Premier League club.
“Sean has been very successful there and they have tried to build on that success year in, year out in a sensible manner within their budget.
“And that’s what he has delivered. They enjoyed European football last season.
“He delivered another year of Premier League football. And they go again next season.”
Burnley were relegated from the Premier League in Taylor’s first season with the club, but bounced back to win the Championship the following season.
His first year was wrecked by an Achilles injury suffered early in the Premier League campaign, but he enjoyed his time at the club: “I loved it up there. It was difficult for me because after the first four to six games after signing I got injured and that was tough.
“I was out for a longer period of time that both myself and my surgeon anticipated.
“That was hard not to be able to help your team try and stay in the Premier League.
“But then the following year we won the Championship.”
Many clubs would have parted company with their manager to try and ward off the drop, but Sean Dyche’s role was never in doubt, and Taylor feels Burnley’s loyalty to Dyche has richly paid off:
“What I really love about Burnley is that so many clubs dispense with their manager after getting relegated or enduring a season worse than they’d have liked.
“Yet they stuck by Sean. He’s an unbelievable manager but first and foremost he’s a great man.
“He’s a very good leader and I like the way he talks and the solidarity he brings to a club. He’s not changed from when I was there to now.”
Taylor is a fan of how Dyche goes about his business: “Working under Sean is intense and demanding but incredibly honest and trustful.
“As a footballer you can’t ask for anything more than that. You want to go into work every day and work hard. What he talks about a lot is that you cannot flick a switch so you train as you play.
“And he is not only demanding of you but of himself and the coaching staff. You’re all in it together and there are no egos. Everybody is part of what is bigger than an individual.”
And that proved vital in winning the Championship title, in which Taylor played his part - notably swinging in the deadly deliveries which saw Michael Keane claim crucial points from title rivals Brighton and Middlesbrough: “We were pushed all the way and we weren’t favourites to go up. If you asked me for my one memory of that season I’d say the togetherness of that squad.
“It was always about the group, not the individual, and regardless of whether you were playing or not each player had a specific role and an important role. Everybody felt valued.”
Read the full 888sport interview with Matt Taylor at https://www.888sport.com/blog/football/matt-taylor-exclusive-888sport-hammers-must-sign-aleksandar-mitrovic-fire-them-europe