Burnley manager Sean Dyche believes his side’s “strong jaw” has helped them take the punches during a tough season – but has warned his players not to take their safety for granted.
After an unsuccessful Europa League campaign Burnley managed just 12 points from their first 19 league games and were thrashed 5-1 at home by Everton on Boxing Day.
However, the Clarets then took 18 points from their next eight fixtures to ease their relegation fears and recovered from a run of four straight defeats to win their last three games, most recently beating Cardiff 2-0 at Turf Moor.
With Cardiff and Brighton both facing a daunting run of games until the end of the season, Burnley are almost certainly safe from the drop, but Dyche is warning against complacency.
“Many years ago (former Blackpool manager) Ian Holloway said we have a strong jaw, and he was right, and still is,” Dyche said ahead of Monday’s visit to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea. “There’s a mentality which has grown over the years and it is a valid thing to have.
“If you take a knock, you get on with it, you don’t sit on it and wallow, you carry on and that’s rewarded us from Christmas onwards. We has a really tough first half of the season, a lot of noise outside the camp, and the real clarity of mind has come together to get in the run we’ve had.
“Now it’s about finishing it off, they’ve deserved it, but you’ve got to factually do it. But to be so strong-minded to change the course of the season at game 19, that has been fantastic, and they deserve a massive amount of credit.
“It means something to me as a manager and to my staff, but on a league table you only get judged when you get it done, and we have to get it done. We want to take control of that and do it for ourselves.”
Dyche reminded his players this week that they are not mathematically safe and face tough games against Chelsea, Manchester City, Everton and Arsenal, but did not get the impression they were already planning their summer holidays.
“I think they know, from the history we’ve had, nothing has been given to us,” he added. “We haven’t had that many decisions, two penalties in 90-odd games or something.
“It owes us nothing, we have to go and get it. We can’t wait for others, no one gives you anything. We’re concentrating on the job in hand.”