Burnley's technical output is still a work in progress, says boss Sean Dyche ahead of Leicester City clash

Sean Dyche and Brendan Rodgers share a joke
Sean Dyche and Brendan Rodgers share a joke

While Sean Dyche will always champion the so-called 'old school' values in football, the Burnley boss says that purifying the technical side of their game remains a work in progress.

Developing the Clarets' functionality on the ball is a process that has evolved over the near seven years that the 48-year-old has been in charge at Turf Moor and it's a conversation that has, extemporaneously, coincided with games against Leicester City during his tenure.

Back in 2016, following a 3-0 loss against the Foxes at the King Power Stadium, a game in which the visitors failed to contain Claudio Ranieri's champions, the former Watford defender spoke about the importance of core values and the finer details within performances.

“It’s not just about tactics and technical ability it’s about mentality,” he said, after Islam Slimani's double did the damage on Filbert Way.

“That will and demand from yourself to go on a football pitch and play with freedom, that assured nature that you need in the Premier League."

Those traits have certainly flourished with experience in the top flight. The Clarets showed enough heart, grit and determination to stave off relegation that term and went on to secure European football in 2017/18.

That was all but confirmed with a 2-1 win over Saturday's opponents 18 months ago as Chris Wood and Kevin Long netted in the first 10 minutes before Jamie Vardy responded in the second half.

Just days later Dyche had said: "How can things like hard work, pride and passion be deemed old school? Those values are things to be encouraged...there is nothing better in a modern British side for a fan, to see their team give everything."

That's the framework that has characterised Burnley under Dyche, it's what they had to draw on to dig themselves out of a sticky situation at the midway point last season, and now they're projecting an ability to blend both styles, with individual qualities tipping the balance in their favour.

“It’s a very difficult task for us going through every season, trying to play well every week, and technically play well, but the one thing we’ve managed to do is, if that side of our game isn’t as pure as it could be - which it often isn’t, it’s still a work in progress - all the things that factor in winning a match, we do well," said Dyche.

“The shape, the energy, the relentless nature of trying to win a game, they’re all intact.

“Within the game, some things the fans can't always see, but Nick Pope was outstanding against Everton, without having to make big saves - his dominant way, his calmness, he continues to mature all the time.

“The two centre halves were outstanding, so all those things. There are still individual qualities we show, that can win us games.

"We know every season we have to do that, we have to find individual moments, but you have to do the hard, ugly stuff, like all teams have, but we sometimes have to do it more.

“We showed grit, determination, organisation, and still find the moment to win the game."

Burnley could be without a number of key players when Dyche is reunited with close friend Brendan Rodgers. Erik Pieters limped off against Everton before the international break, Jack Cork is pushing for a return after sustaining a shoulder injury against Aston Villa, Danny Drinkwater remains sidelined while Johann Berg Gudmundsson picked up a knock in Iceland's Euro 2020 qualifier against world champions France.

"We want everyone alive and focused on the job in hand," Dyche said. "We know the importance of our squad in the past here and we want it to be important for the future.

"The mentality here means I think I could ask most players to play anywhere and they would get on with it and give it their lot.

"These are qualities that sound really easy but they are not, they have to be built in the cultural element of the club and I marvel at it because the players have given me everything.

"Some people were questioning me around Christmas time and I was saying how proud I was of them then and what they deliver because they go through a lot to deliver performances."