As Sean Dyche closes in on his fifth anniversary at Turf Moor, the Burnley boss has ‘taken his head out of the sand’ to appreciate the club’s evolution on and off the pitch.
The ripening of facilities at the Barnfield Training Centre is undoubtedly a shining beacon of the club’s growth and the Clarets’ metamorphosis in playing style has developed in tandem.
Burnley were 14th in the Championship when Dyche was unveiled as Eddie Howe’s successor; the appointment came just days after the former Watford defender had taken in the 4-0 thumping away at Cardiff City from the stands.
The Clarets had been in a position where they were forced to sell treasures such as Jay Rodriguez – prior to Dyche’s arrival – as well as Charlie Austin, Danny Ings and Kieran Trippier in a bid to balance the books with the accounts precariously in the red.
But the club is now structurally sound and operating from an unprecedented disposable income having paid back directors’ loans, external loans and the stadium ‘Buy Back Bond’.
They’ve broken their transfer record five times recently with the purchases of Andre Gray, Steven Defour, Jeff Hendrick, Robbie Brady and Chris Wood while an extended stay in the Premier League has brought a share of the riches from the lucrative multi-billion pound TV deals.
With Burnley sixth in the top flight, having taken 12 points from seven games, Dyche said: “Now and again you’ve got to get your head out of the sand because it’s relentless what we do as managers up and down the country.
“You have to pull your head out of the sand and look around you every once in a while. I’m well aware of the movement that the club has made since I first came here to where we are now, both on and off the pitch.
“The training ground is the obvious one and a marker of how far the club has moved forward.
“The trading model of the club, the amount spent, there are some fantastic sums of money and I never thought that was going to happen when I first came here that’s for sure because we were selling everyone. There are loads of different things.”
He added: “We’re trying to move everything forward so of course there are some really
serious markers and some of that gets missed because it’s only really a win that counts.
“I know, underneath it all, the work that has been done. The health of the club is amazing. There is a lot of good work being done and it’s not just by me.
“There’s a group of players, year on year, different groups that I’ve been with, that have done fantastically well.
“There’s my staff, most of who are still with me, who have done a great job, the people in the offices work very hard, the board.
“It’s not just about me, I can assure you, and I never think it is. There are a lot of people that have to work very hard to continue what we’re doing.
“We’re happy with the start, it’s early yet, but we still think there’s progress being made and that’s a big mark for us approaching five years and beyond.”
Wealth intrinsically breeds power and that has enabled Dyche to introduce further depth to his squad which, in turn, adds more arrows to Burnley’s bow.
The Clarets have shown many sides to their personality already this term and Dyche is pleased that his players are finding different ways to pick up points.
“We’re not the real deal so we have to find different ways of operating and I think that is really good for players to do anyway to understand the whole way in which the game works, not just one particular style,” he said.
“They key is to be effective, whatever style you’re going to be. You’ve got to be effective because you’ve got to win a game. That’s the key for me, it’s the mixed football that I talk about.
“It’s not just mixed in any 90 minutes, it’s mixed in a game plan. What do you need for this particular game? Can your players deliver it?
“That takes a lot of open-mindedness and a lot of understanding from the players. I think they are adaptive to that and I’ve enjoyed working with them on that basis.
“I think we’ve got more strings to our bow. I’m really pleased with the group and how they adapt to that because it’s not easy.
“If you have one style, and that style isn’t working, it’s hard to change. We have a few different ones that we can manipulate and use wisely.”