Sean Dyche's Clarets are a culture club
While we await Burnley's first summer signing, whoever comes into the club will instantly become aware of the club's identity and DNA.
The culture under Sean Dyche is well-established, and has become self-sustaining, regardless of which players come and go.
Dyche gives his squad all the credit for that, for policing the dressing room and maintaining the values that have served the club well during the manager’s tenure.
Some of the big players in the success enjoyed in the last five years or so have moved on - most recently, stalwarts such as Scott Arfield and Dean Marney, following the likes of Andre Gray, Michael Keane, George Boyd, David Jones, Danny Ings, Kieran Trippier and Jason Shackell out of the door.
But Dyche’s Burnley retain that spirit and resilience, with a will and demand - a squad with no ego, strong characters, who enjoy their work and the environment.
Dyche is proud of how the culture has remained strong, and grown: “You’re thinking back to the start point, along that there’s others that have joined, they’ve been here two years and know what it’s about.
“You forget about Tarky – he’s been here a couple of years, Kev Long’s been here as long as all of them.
“He’s maturing into a player and a voice and a person around the group to understand what we do.
“Leadership’s now changed.
“It’s not one figurehead captain.You want them all to have an understanding around the group.
“How they rub off on each other, this is what we do and this is what we stand for.
“It’s not just the original ones, it layers up from the players that have been here longer.
“Six months you’re still working it all out like Azza (Aaron Lennon), go back a couple of years they’ve got the environment, the culture, they know what the group is about.
“They will be the next people that take it on.”
Former boss Stan Ternent used to say: “You can take a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.”
But Dyche’s players have taken all his advice and guidance on board and run with it: “That goes into culture you set and you built.
“A manager gets a new job and you say he’s going to instil a new culture, it’s worded that you flick a switch, it’s not that easy.
“The reason why I talk about culture, teamship, environment, work ethic, their professionalism, it’s not easy to get it all to come together.
“Without the players and their mentality towards it, you’re not going to get it to happen. So they deserve the credit.
“I can push them and drag them about and say this is good for you, they deserve the credit.
“Tarky’s sat there listening to me saying ‘you are improving and deserving massive credit’, week in week out for a year. “Kev Long sat there for five and a half years watching everyone else, you look at him now and say he’s a player.
“They deserve the credit for being patient, diligent, for being professional, for lowering the ego, keeping at it, listening to us not just the agent or the media, they deserve the credit.
“In my day, you get on with it, that was it.
“If you don’t off you pop. Now there’s a lot going on for footballers, so they deserve the credit.”
And the dressing room culture is now a big selling point for players - that they know it is a club where they can settle very quickly: Definitely. It starts with the inhouse players, taking ownership of it, they buy into it and say this is what we are.
“A new player comes in, are they going to align to it?
“By year five, I think the outside view starts to mould into a DNA sort of thing of the club, they kind of know roughly what Burnley’s about and it knocks onto players and onto agents and onto sometimes the media, everyone thinks that player sort of would fit there.
“It builds that identity, I think we have that identity. Help and hinder is in each person’s view – as in regards recruiting, that’s in the balance, for each individual to decide.
“We can only go on evidence, most players we’ve signed settle in really quickly, as people and professionals.
“Then if that helps to perform, probably it does, if doesn’t and they stick with it usually it wins the day.”
Dyche points to Steven Defour’s adaptation after a difficult first season: “Steven Defour is the best example, just talking about that.
“He had a big shift in his own mind about the first year, he came back for pre-season and was a different character, whole manner, professionalism, the desire. Until his injury I thought he was first class.
“He’s a big sign of a player that was there and goes there, he’s an obvious marker. That’s massively down to him.
“We laid it on for him and he took it on. Even if it doesn’t work at first.
“If you spoke to him two Christmases ago, he’d say ‘love the group, training’s been great, really enjoy being here but can’t quite get my head around the football side of things. This summer I get it.’
“It comes together. Others come in hand in glove. Azza, it’s like a new leash of life, he looks refreshed by it and loves it.”
Much has been made of Burnley’s British and Irish influence – although the Clarets have Belgian midfielder Defour, Iceland winger Johann Berg Gudmundsson and New Zealand captain Chris Wood within their ranks.
Under Dyche, Burnley had five players go on to earn senior England caps – Tom Heaton, Michael Keane, Jack Cork, James Tarkowski and Nick Pope, who is currently away with the Three Lions squad at the World Cup in Russia.
And after working with Dyche at Turf Moor, Trippier – England’s star turn at the tournament so far – and Ings went on to play for their country.
Dyche said: “It’s a double-edged sword, people question why we don’t sign foreign players, then they say you’re developing loads of British/English players. Which one do you want?
“First things first, they deserve a lot of credit first. Players can only develop if they’re willing to be open minded and take on things that you think will help them.
“Without that you can coach until you’re blue in the face but it ain’t going to make a difference. If players are open minded then I think myself and staff, what we do here can help them. Players deserve the credit, it’s my job. There’s is to be a footballer, not necessarily my kind, if they want to join if what you offer then that’s the start. You’ve got a chance.”