Sean Dyche has deployed the tried and tested method of downplaying ambition, insisting Burnley’s primary target remains bettering last season’s 16th-placed finish despite the club’s lofty position in the Premier League.
Burnley find themselves sixth following a last-gasp win over Stoke, level on points with Tottenham and Liverpool and one point above Arsenal, but the manager is doing his best to keep his feet planted.
“The first target is to try and achieve something better than we did last season, both in the team developing and of course results because that’s the main judgment,” Dyche said ahead of tomorrow’s visit to Brighton.
“I think we are finding a good mixture of both – the players are reality-bound here. We know it’s an ongoing challenge and we know it will be but it’s to be enjoyed, without a shadow of a doubt.”
Burnley will soon surpass last season’s tally of 40 points if their accumulation continues at its current rate and Dyche will need a new target, but European football is not a point for discussion, yet.
“We are realistic,” he said. “The fans are realistic. Football can be a fragile business. Five years ago we were having to sell players.”
Brighton have been heading slowly in the opposite direction. Chris Hughton’s charges have stalled after a strong start and are in the midst of a terrible run, without a point from their last three matches.
“We are a newly-promoted team,” said Hughton.
“We went through a good period but we are now among a group of teams that are not in good form.
“We aren’t happy with it and are very conscious of the facts. The next two games are very big.
“We need any win badly. These are the challenges that will face us all season.
“Whenever you lose, it puts more pressure on the next game. This is the challenge and we are a team that rises to those.”