Professionalism has propelled Burnley into the Championship’s top two, and boss Sean Dyche has no intentions of allowing standards to slip.
The Clarets go to Molineux to face Wolves tomorrow looking for a 10th win in 13 league games.
We have to operate in a manner which is effective, and it is so farSean Dyche
And Dyche and Andre Gray could well be boosted by an award double, with the pair in line to be named Championship manager and player of the month respectively today.
Dyche explained some of the secrets of the side’s success: “I’ve made it part of my thinking to make sure the whole of what we work with here is professional.
“Staff included, I’m the only one allowed half a lager now and then!
“But seriously, I require certain standards from myself, my staff, and that lends itself to the players.
“They take ownership of that, hopefully, it took me probably six months to get it, change of group, of personnel, and since then, the professionalism of everyone here has been outstanding.
“There is a humbleness about our work, we know there are no guarantees, you have to be ready every single time, and you have to find different ways of operating and winning.
“We never do any BS, quite frankly, we always tell the lads the truth, about the demands, these are the details, but we are a good side, so we have to operate in a manner which is effective, and it is so far.
“But it’s only so far, because it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
Dyche is renowned for consistency of selection with his teams, but admits all the squad have a role to play: “The contributions from the bench are invaluable, I just spoke to the group (on Tuesday) and said ‘it’s about everyone’.
“The way the lads on the edge of the team train, the way they look after themselves, incredible.
“It’s very difficult to achieve things in a marathon without that support, the mentality of the players.
“They know if they get a chance, or when their chance comes, they will be ready.
“And whoever gets on is affecting the game, as Matty (Taylor) did, as (Chris) Longy did with hard running, keeping the ball at the top of the pitch.
“All those details count over a season.
“I think everyone thinks they’re unlucky not to be playing. I can only pick 11 though, I tell the players that at the beginning of every season.
“It sounds ridiculously simple, but it’s not about like, dislike, it’s about effectiveness, and a team I think can play.
“I know there’s a lot made about me playing the same team, trust me, we debate that team for hours as a staff, all the nuances, the idiosyncrasies, the little details we swap and change.
“We changed the widemen, changed their sides, they are the things we look at.
“We change it when we think it needs it, for a reason.”
Sam Vokes is one of five former Wolves returning to their former club tomorrow, and Dyche believes he is returning to the levels he set in the promotion season two years ago, before a cruciate knee ligament injury: “I think he’s getting there in his performance levels, he’s working fantastically well on the details of what he is as a player.
“Away from what you see out there, he’s training, his work, his details, his diet, he’s becoming a very powerful professional player - not just for what he does out there, the whole feeling of what the profession is.
“I tell the young lads all the time, look at your passport, once you’re a pro, it says ‘professional footballer’, not just ‘footballer’.
“There’s a difference, and he’s becoming a rounded professional.”
Dean Marney, another player returning from a cruciate problem, scored a 60-yard wonder goal for the Development Squad against Oldham in a 5-4 defeat on Tuesday at Gawthorpe.
Burnley led 4-0 through Jamie Frost, Marney, Renny Smith and Josh Ginnelly.
But Marney still not quite ready for a return to the first team squad: “Not yet, but he’s played again, he’s going along really well.”