Burnley boss Dyche backs players, but admits they have a lot of work to do

Chris Wood at the final whistle
Chris Wood at the final whistle
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Sean Dyche admits he and his players have “a lot of work to do” to get out of a challenging situation.

But he insists his players have the right mentality to arrest a tricky start to the season, which has seen them win two of their opening 11 Premier League games.

And Dyche laughed off claims in a national newspaper this morning that there is unrest in the camp over his preference for Joe Hart in goal ahead of club captain Tom Heaton, and Ashley Barnes’ lack of starts.

After a third-successive defeat, going down 4-2 at West Ham, Dyche accepted: “I’ve had lots of plaudits about my team, over the last six years, so it’s probably our first real tricky spell, so I’m not going to crying it in.

“We have a lot of work to do, without a shadow of a doubt, but I couldn’t be more proud of what the players have all done to get to where we are.

“You can’t just have the wheel of the ship in calm waters, you’ve got to take it when it’s choppy, and you learn a lot more from that.

“I’m still in that learning phase as a manager, and I think the players are, it’s the first time they’ve had a few things go against them.

“So, there’s work to be done, but the mentality on show today was really positive, about the group, the work they’ve done this week in prepping for the game after taking a couple of hits, and we don’t get our rewards today.

“But if we keep going about our business in that manner, we will get our rewards.”

Dyche often spoke last season about coming out on the right side of tight margins as Burnley finished seventh, and he feels they are just the wrong side at present: “I try and be balanced, and last season, even when we were flying, I said the margins are really tight.

“We’re not at a level where we can just run all over teams, we have to be right on the money on all the little things that happen.

“Some things go against you that are out of your control, the third goal hits Ben Mee and wrong foots Joe Hart and goes in the opposite corner - you can’t really do much about that.

“By the way, what a bit of defending from him today, that is as good as I’ve seen in a long time, and I thought he was excellent.

“So it’s finding the balance when you need the team to work, but Ben Mee’s excellent, Charlie Taylor was excellent, how can you find their performance and add it to the performance of the ones who are quiet, who are back on their game?

“It’s all those details, but you’re never far off, and I don’t think we are, they seem far off, but the margins today are a ball falling this way or that way.

“It’s hard to come away and dominant games in this league, so usually you have to play some form of counter, which we didn’t do as well as we can, so there’s a balanced view of it.

“But it’s the first time we’ve had a real sticky spell, in quite a long time, so it’s fuel in a way, if you have the right mentality, and I think we have.”

Burnley have shipped only 14 fewer games than they did all last season, with 27 games remaining, and it is a quandary for Dyche: “It’s a strange one, you’re looking at it, and early season we were quite tight, Southampton, and there’s been the last two - and they are miles in front. I’ve spoken to two prominent managers who think they’ve stepped on again.

“You have to know those days can happen. But you don’t want to be conceding four here, obviously, or at Fulham - a bit of a difference there with all the games and travelling we were doing.

“So that’s all calmed down, parked and we move forward, the challenges we have got coming.”

Dyche believes his players are no less committed to the cause, however, despite the questions being raised by the run of results: “It’s a three game run, we went 11 without a win last season, but the manner of the games - you don’t want to be conceding that many goals, quite obviously.

“There’s still work to be done, but it’s an ongoing thing with us, I said last season, we’re not the real deal.

“These lads gave every ounce of themselves last season, to end up seventh.

“And it’s not that they aren’t now, but you need some of the twists or fate, your shape to be right, all the details, and if you’re just off, it can go against you.

“The bigger picture is a group who are committed to improving, but the immediate picture is not improving enough to get results.

“So that’s got to change, because it’s a results business.

“But the mentality of the group, how far they’ve come, you’d never hear me knock that. I couldn’t be more proud of these players and what they keep achieving.

“But now its a challenge and we have to keep working to put it right.”

And in response to the article in The Times, suggesting all was not well in the dressing room, Dyche noted: “I didn’t think you saw a team who weren’t committed.

“I think you saw a team that was definitely committed to the cause.

“It’s quite good actually, it’s the first time people have actually recognised us enough to come out with such a story.

“They’re going ‘what’s happening there?’ So that means you’ve normally made a mark when people start coming out with those stories.

“So it’s weirdly a bit of a pat on the back.”

Looking back on the game, Dyche praised his players for their spirit, as they twice fought back before losing 4-2: “It was certainly a ding dong of a game, that was for sure, good for neutral, no so good when you’re on the wrong side of it.

“I was pleased with the mentality of the players, that’s for sure. We gifted them a first, unfortunately, reacted to that, and by the end of the first half we were growing into the game.

“We started a bit tentatively, which can happen, particularly away from home, and we grew into the game and got back in it.

“2-1, we go 2-2, and their third goal is a real sickener, Tarky gets a block on it, it lands to them, Ben gets a block on it, it hits his heel and goes in the opposite side of the goal.

“Then we react, Woody hits the bar, and you think you might get back in it, and they get a breakaway when we’re chasing it.

“A crazy game, in some ways, and we certainly don’t want to be conceding as many goals as we have the last few games, obviously, but I was pleased with the mentality to keep going back at them to try and get something from the game.”