Burnley promotion contenders - Sean Dyche
While others continue to question his side’s credentials, boss Sean Dyche believes the Clarets have earned the right to be considered Championship promotion contenders.
Dyche insists pundits, analysts and so-called ‘experts’ remain clouded by numbers; wrongly judging a club’s ambition by squad size, disposable funds and wage structure.
But the only digits that influence success sit in the ‘points’ column, and Dyche knows his squad possesses the attributes and the character to mount a genuine push for the top two.
“That’s part of the division and shows the financial gap between clubs can be vast,” he said. “I’ve never made an excuse of it though; we are what we are and we’re enjoying what we’re creating here. Long may that continue. It’s just one of those things.
“I don’t think there’s any malice in it - I just think people are looking at the stats and facts and understanding that we haven’t spent a lot of money and we have a small squad. We’ve got a small wage bill as well but they don’t always know and define the quality, the energy, the framework and the organisation within that.
“We’ve been questioned many times at various stages of the season but we’re up there, we deserve to be up there, and judging by the last few performances it’s quite evident that they’re giving everything to remain there.”
Midweek, Dyche claimed Brighton’s refusal to break from their rigid formation was testament to the prestige his side have established in the division. And that proved the case again at Loftus Road in the 3-3 draw with QPR.
“We weren’t ourselves at the start but credit to them because they set out on the front foot,” Dyche said. “They knew about our energy and they knew about our quality. That’s another massive marker for us - when you’re coming away to QPR and they change their thinking to try and play against you.
“About 20 minutes in we seemed to find our feet, control parts of the game, and then we got the breather we needed at half-time. In the second half we got back on the front foot, played some great stuff, and attacked them.
“I told the players after the game that we’ve taken four points from one of the most fancied teams in the division. That’s a great marker. To leave wondering how we didn’t get the three points as well is another positive.”
Leading scorer Danny Ings and strike partner Sam Vokes netted in the same game for the seventh time this season, taking their combined total to 37. One more would see the duo equal the haul of Paul Barnes (25) and Andy Cooke (13) under Adrian Heath in the old Second Division in 1996/97, while Mike Conroy (26) and Roger Eli (12) netted the same combined tally in the Fourth Division championship-winning season of 1991/92.
The record, though, may take some beating as Willie Irvine (37) and Andy Lochhead (23) notched an exceptional 60 goals in 1965/66 in the old First Division.
“I hope it continues; it’s a great statistic,” said Dyche. “They’ve formed a great partnership and obviously now we’ve got Ash (Barnes) in to support and challenge that partnership.
“Vokes, after a quiet first half, was excellent after the break. He grew in to it and showed how good a player he is. Ings showed the passion he has, the effervescence, and the quality.”
He added: “I wasn’t surprised at all (to see them stay at the club); we’ve made it clear as a club that they’re not for sale. None of our players are for sale. The players have been terrific.”