SEAN Dyche has paid tribute to the Burnley fans who are enjoying the journey of their season so far – literally.
The Clarets have clocked up the miles, particularly since the turn of the year, with trips to Southampton in the cup, Yeovil, Queens Park Rangers and now Bournemouth in the Championship.
After taking 1,705 to Huish Park and then 1,447 to Loftus Road, Burnley fans have sold out their allocation of just over 1,300 at the Goldsands Stadium, formerly Dean Court, where the Clarets have not played since February 2000.
“The away fans have been phenomenal, for a small town with not so many people living here, to carry as many as we do away has been excellent,” said Dyche.
“A one club mentality is important anywhere.
“We’ve managed to galvanise that unit, and the fan-player connection the other night (at Bolton) was quite obvious.
“It does help it and add value to the group in what we want to achieve, and we’re taking big numbers again down to Bournemouth. The away followings are incredible.
“Last year we were on an awkward run and we went down to Charlton and there were real good numbers there. I’m aware there’s a London Clarets branch.
“But at Ipswich as well there large numbers, considering it’s a massive journey.
“They’re always in good voice, they’re always really positive and energetic – a really enjoyable part of the club has been the away support for sure.
That’s nothing against the home support, but when you go away it costs a lot of money, it’s time, it’s effort – put all that in the melting pot and it’s a big ask but they’ve been terrific.
“But I think the performances have helped that – home and away – and we’re pleased to give the fans what they want.
“We had great numbers the other night at Bolton, a great atmosphere, in good voice, backing the team.
“I think they’ve got a lot to enjoy this year and long may it continue.”
And Dyche said the ‘12th man’ effect should not be underestimated.
“I think there’s a real belief in what the group are offering the fans and I think they’ve bought into that,” he continued.
“It doesn’t guarantee you the out-come’s going to be a win, but it gives you a lot better chance because there’s a bit more time on reaction if things are not going as well.
“When we went 1-0 down against Millwall it was as if they said ‘Okay, we know this group are going to give everything’.
“That’s the worst case scenario, the best case scenario is you’re going to get something from the game, and sure enough we delivered a very good performance and ended up winning 3-1.
“When the fans react like that it doesn’t get on to the pitch so the players relax, they keep playing, they keep performing to get the outcome we want.
“We hope for more (fans) at home. I understand that football is expensive – I get that – and we do get a good following compared to the size of the town.
“We want more at home because we want to continue to build our home mentality.”
But before their next Turf Moor outing, against Nottingham Forest next Saturday, Burnley are on the road again today, to Bournemouth.
The Cherries’ form has picked up in their quest to secure Championship status after former Burnley boss Eddie Howe returned to engineer automatic promotion from League One last season.
And Dyche pointed to tweaks in their all-out attacking style.
“I think they’ve changed it. Certainly the recent reports we’ve had is they've tried to be tighter defensively, they’ve played one sitter in midfield, they’ve brought (Yann) Kermorgant in, who’s more of a target player,” he said.
“I think Eddie’s trying to flex his ways a little bit because as we know when they came up to Turf there wasn’t as much passing football, they played 4-5-1 and played a lot of longer stuff.
“Maybe he’s adapting to the division and trying to find a way of making sure they get results.
“Eddie’s first marker of course will be to build on last year and be in the division, and they’re doing a good job so far.
“It’s another tough game, but they all are.”