Sean Dyche admits Burnley turnaround over the last year has been his finest achievement at Turf Moor
Two promotions and a return to European competition would appear to stand out as the high-water marks of Sean Dyche’s Turf Moor reign.
But the man himself believes his finest achievement as Burnley boss has been the turnaround over the last 12 months.
After a 5-1 defeat at home to Everton on Boxing Day last year, the Clarets sat 18th in the Premier League with a meagre 12 points from 19 games.
They went on to finish on 40 points after a superb second half of the season, in which they outscored everyone bar champions Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal and Crystal Palace.
Indeed, only seven sides claimed more points in that time.
Coincidentally, the Toffees are again the opposition on Boxing Day this year, this time at Goodison Park, with Burnley in a far healthier position, 10th in the table with exactly twice as many points as this time last year.
Looking at the change in fortunes, Dyche said: "I think we are pleased because there was a big turnaround since last year, and that had to occur, and the players deserve a huge amount of credit for that.
"Going into this season it has been slightly different. I think there was a different feel to the group and an urgency.
"We all nearly found ourselves in real trouble, we were in trouble, and then turned that around so there was an edge to pre-season and training and the games, and that has followed on into the season. There have been a couple of hiccups, but that happens in the Premier League.
"Generally we have had a decent level of performance.
"There has been a mixture of mentality, performance levels and grinding out results when you need to.”
And he admits the last year has been his most memorable: "Definitely. Everyone would probably see the fact we finished seventh and got into the Europa League as being my best time as manager.
“Not so much Burnley fans, who I think enjoyed the promotions, but I think generally people will see that as a big success, which is was.
“But turning it around last season, which obviously wasn’t just me because the players have been magnificent along with my staff, is definitely my biggest achievement as a manager.
“It involves a whole group of people to make that happen. It’s gone now but that is something I will reflect on – and already do – as being my biggest achievement.
“The hardest thing is when people clamber for you to change everything and sometimes it’s hard, but the right thing, to change nothing or very little.
“We stuck to our guns last season and we found a way of the team operating, reminded them of the simplicity of how we operate and delivered a very strong turn-around, both in performances, which I thought were very good in the second half of last season in goals scored, clean sheets, and points and that’s a very healthy mixture.”
The team are certainly operating - they are joint-top in the Premier League in terms of clean sheets, with seven - with all seven leading to wins.
And the last two games have seen their opponents Newcastle and Bournemouth fail to even register a shot on target - the first time that has happened in Burnley’s Premier League years: “We have seven this season which is a good sign because it is not easy to keep clean sheets in the Premier League.
"We have not faced a shot on target in two games, it will be difficult to carry that on.
“Clean sheets are a big part and a factor in football because if you get that right you have an increased chance of being successful.
"Saturday we were way of our performance but the clean sheet and the hard yards for the team to have a foothold, a base to work from when you are not playing well, got us a win in the end.
"Our challenge is to find a way to get points on the board and get wins because it is very difficult if you rely on one style and expect to be successful in the Premier League unless you are the elite.
"Clean sheets are important and the fact that we have two back to back is good but it doesn't owe us anything going forward and we will have to play better in the games coming up.”
In October, when Burnley beat Everton 1-0 at Turf Moor, it was another blow for the under-pressure Marco Silva, who has since been relieved of his duties.
Duncan Ferguson appears to have restored some much-needed fight to the Toffees, and Carlo Ancelotti - a title winner in four of Europe’s big-five leagues, and a three-time Champions League winner as manager, twice as a player - will take charge of his first game against Burnley.
He will have had little chance to get over his ideas, having been unveiled on Monday, and Dyche said: "Even with his fantastic background and what he has achieved you would want more than three days to change things overall.
"On the other hand you usually get a response from the players.
"Without a shadow of a doubt, among many big managers in the Premier League, he is now one of them with what he has achieved in the game and what he has had.
"It is a different challenge at Everton and it would be interesting to know if there was a remit what that is. He is a regular in the Champions League and has won all sorts across Europe so that is an interesting one but he must have gone in there with the thought that he can make it a very good place.
"Once when Malky Mackay was manager at Watford we played them (Chelsea) in the cup. They were far too strong, it was 5-0.
"He was amusing afterwards, he had the land of the giants with that Chelsea side who were massive. He said to us after 'why have you got small players?' He wasn't patronising, he was just asking.
"But whenever a different manager, even a caretaker, a change of feel, voice and rhetoric can change things.
"Now the manager has been appointed it will be interesting to see how that morphs into what the new manager wants.
"They have had a few managers over the last few years, a group of players who have been put together from each manager, and now I am sure that Carlo will be looking to bring his style and understanding and form what he wants to be his team.
"Will it have an effect? I imagine it will of some description, our job is to make sure we look after ourselves and deliver a performance.”