Defour taking advantage of improved fitness levels
Midfielder Steven Defour admits the penny dropped about life with Burnley on Sean Dyche's infamous pre-season gaffer's day.
It is a day where the footballs are nowhere to be seen, where the manager puts his squad through their paces physically and mentally.
Before his departure to Watford, striker Andre Gray groaned: “It’s got to be done, it’s one of those days we all dread, but we all get through it and help each other.”
Back in 2013, Kieran Trippier tweeted: “Got to say today was the hardest session of my life.”
The two-hour sessions are planned to replicate the statistics achieved by players during a game, and Defour – who didn’t complete 90 minutes for the Clarets in his first season with the club, almost surprised himself at how well he responded.
The Belgium international has been one of Burnley’s stand out performers so far this season, starting all six Premier League games, and is starting to feel at home following a £7.4m switch from Anderlecht last August.
He was the sponsors’ man of the match in Saturday’s goal-less draw at home to Huddersfield Town, with Dyche describing him as “the best player on the pitch by a mile.”
Defour had an offer to go on loan to Olympiakos in the summer, which suited neither Burnley nor the player, and he has got his head down and worked hard to acclimatise to Dyche’s style, and the demands of the Premier League.
Defourr said: “It’s weird because, he (Dyche) said to me at the end of the season, just do the pre-season and we can always see what happens, and I did it, and maybe that’s what I missed last time, a good pre-season, a Burnley pre-season, which is different, and I’m taking advantage now.
“I think on the gaffer’s day, that was a point, because I got really good numbers, and that’s where he said, ‘look, you can do it’, so it was about showing it on the pitch.
“It was basically two hours of only running, so you don’t see a ball, and then the day after I had a good recovery, and the numbers were high for me.
“I think there was a lot of running, but it was never too much, so it was well-planned. It was hard obviously, but I enjoyed it.
“It was a good day and I stared to realise I can do the job, even in a two midfield if necessary.”
Burnley’s fitness levels are well-renowned in the Premier League, and Defour feels up to speed this season.
He came in last August, having already had a pre-season with Anderlecht, and featured in their first two games of the season, scoring in the 5-1 win over Kortrijk – which Dyche witnessed in person – nd he added: “A lot was said about Steven doing 90 minutes – at some point it was just tactical, but in some ways there needs to be a lot of running because we are Burnley, and we have to be honest with ourselves.
“It is one of our qualities that we are physically going 90 minutes and over.
“Even the top teams do it now, and you see it also, the game never stops.”