FOOTBALL clubs looking to pack a punch on Boxing Day – it’s a well-worn cliché.
But what manager Sean Dyche wouldn’t give for one of his men to deliver a knockout blow this afternoon.
Four draws from their last five games – all of them winnable – has prompted plenty of pent-up frustration in the Clarets camp ahead of this afternoon’s visit of Derby County.
Dyche saw his side come back from behind to score twice in two minutes at Birmingham City on Saturday, only to then look on in familiar disbelief as three points slipped through their grasp in the 89th minute.
He has warned against letting their frustrations get the better of them in the festive period though.
“All you’re working towards is continuing that performance level because it will bring wins,” he said.
“You see some games when you’re scratching your head thinking how have whatever team won that game, but it happens.
“It might need one of those to back-up our good performances and almost a strange one to free the mind, so the next time you make all those chances they just fly in.
“But I know which way I’d have it, and that’s good performances and lots of chances, any day of the week.”
Dyche does not feel his players are getting too down about dropped points.
“I feel confidence is good at the moment because of the performances,” said the Burnley boss, who while disappointed to see further points dropped at St Andrew’s was at least boosted by seeing his number of goalscorers increase from seven to nine, with Danny Ings – in only his second start – and Ross Wallace getting in on the act.
“People were asking the other week when Charlie was unbelievable, ‘who else scores?’ “We’ve got people who can score, that’s for sure.
“We scored two good goals on Saturday. Top, top goals for different reasons, they were different types of goals.
“Rosco’s free kick is right up there with as good as you’ll see.
“His enthusiasm is first class, but he’s got ability.
“Danny Ings has had a tough year but I told him to stick with it and chances would come his way.
“I thought he was sharp against Watford and for the first 20 minutes some of the movement and football between him and Ross, and Pato’s (Martin Paterson’s) runs coming in from the left across the defensive line, I thought was absolutely first class.”
And although Derby have struggled on the road this season, losing six, Dyche has warned his players they will have to stay on top of their game if they are to complete their first ‘double’ of the campaign and have something to celebrate after Christmas.
“It’s a nice time to be playing and it’s another good game for us at home against Derby,” said the 41-year-old who, knowing Nigel Clough, knows the Rams will be well drilled.
“Nigel is someone I respect greatly. I knew him many years ago and have known him through the years, and Ian Woan and Tony Loughlan know him.
“I think he’s a proper football man and he’s done a good job at Derby, so by no means is that an easy game.
“People ask me about hard games, easy games.
“There are no easier or hard games – they are all hard in different ways, but we’ll be looking forward to it for sure.”
The association between Dyche, Woan, Loughlan and Clough goes back to the Clarets’ management trio’s playing days at Nottingham Forest, where Nigel would often accompany dad Brian.
Dyche recognises that his Derby counterpart has been around football from day one.
“Literally, yes, with his dad,” he smiled.
“There are old pictures of him from the 70s with his dad on the sidelines. It’s a shame that couldn’t happen any more.
“People would deem that now as not paying attention to your job, which is madness really because I certainly don’t think Brian Clough didn’t pay attention to his job, that’s for sure.
“Like everything I wish Nigel great success, apart from when we play them.”