Johann now one of the '˜go-to' guys
Iceland international winger Johann Berg Gudmundsson has emerged this season as one of Burnley's biggest attacking threats.
And boss Sean Dyche is pleased with the progress of the former Charlton Athletic wideman - signed for £3.5m in the summer of 2016 - as he continues to adapt and prosper at Premier League level.
Gudmundsson took time to bed in at Turf Moor after making the step up, with injuries also providing setbacks along the way.
But this term, he has become one of the Clarets’ ‘go-to’ guys, coming up with seven assists and three goals.
Indeed, a recent statistic showed that between the start of December and February, only Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne - likely to be the Player of the Year - created more chances.
Dyche puts most of his development down to Gudmundsson’s own hard work, but also praised the understanding and patience of the chairman and board: “The thing about football, it’s got to be instant. But it’s very rare here we’re in a position to buy instant - we have to get players who mould into what it is.
“Now and again, say with Corky, Bardo, Jon (Walters), who know the division, but players have matured with us, Tom, Ben, people like that, Wardy...who know it a bit more.
“But there are others behind that who have to go on that learning curve. Johann had his last year, if you like, even Steven with his experience, his was different, just getting to grips with the physical side of things.
“For Johann, it’s about adapting to all of it, the pace, the quality, the physical demands, demands from yourself...Tarky is like that, Popey, Charlie, all adapting and improving.”
He added: “The thing is, you’re judged along that timescale, very quickly.
“I don’t think we are - the media are fair with us, and the chairman and board are very fair. They get the demands and what we’re trying to do and how we’re trying to do it. But we’re one of the rare clubs at our level...maybe Eddie gets a bit more time as well at Bournemouth. They’ve spent a bit of money, but generally...
“But they had a tough spell early in the season, which can happen, as you’ve seen with us. It’s tough, but that doesn’t take away the demand to win.
“I want to win, the players and fans do. But there has to be a balanced view.
“Sometimes you have these peaks and troughs, sometimes when you’re trying to mould a team where some have been there, seen it, done it, some have earned it, some have never done it.
“That mixture, it’s improbable you’d go a full season, as we were doing, without a tough run.
“Leicester showed it’s not impossible, but it’s improbable.”
Speaking of Leicester, the Foxes reportedly demanded £95m for 2016 PFA Players’ Player of the Year Riyad Mahrez on deadline day, which even Manchester City baulked at.
Now, without claiming Gudmundsson is at that level just yet, his statistics compare favourably with the Algerian wizard this season.
Mahrez has created 38 chances so far this term, compared to Gudmundsson’s 44, and has one more assist with eight - though has weighed in with eight goals.
Dyche feels the 27-year-old continues to step up: “Johann is certainly adapting and growing into what it is, and I think the foundations were put in last year, even coming out injured for a bit - they get a look at it.
“He just keeps re-adjusting. Every season you re-adjust again, all that subliminal stuff we all take for granted, it is there, you don’t access it on a piece of paper, but it’s there. Season on season, it becomes part of you, and some of the harsh points of that learning curve become normal.”
“Say you do a presentation at work, the first one you do, in front of an interview panel or whatever, (puffs out his cheeks), by the time it’s your fifth, not bad, after 500, you’re ‘right! everyone ready?’ Boom. You get on with it.
“It’s the same in football, you adapt and adapt. Some just get it quicker than others, the same in any walk of life.”