THE Clarets are on the final countdown – and manager Sean Dyche is showing nerves of steel.
In fact, there are no nerves at all.
With Burnley boasting a 10-point cushion with 10 games to go the manager is encouraging his players to enjoy the ride, and forget any fear factor they might be faced with in getting over the line in the race for promotion.
“Why would you get nervous? We’re at the right end of the market, trust me the edginess is at the other end of the market,” said a determined Dyche.
“We had a little patch of that last season when you wonder how that situation arose.
“That’s the real edgy bit. It’s excitement at the top end of the market, that’s for sure.
“There still are plenty of challenges coming our way, but it’s a completely different feeling and mindset.
“I’ve done it as a player, coach and a manager and it’s a completely different thing at that end, at the top end of the market, than down the bottom when it’s edgy and nervy and everyone can feel unsettled.
“I thought we dealt with that with a lot of clarity last year, but I prefer to be having the feelings we’re having at the top end of the market, that’s for sure.”
It is the opposite for tomorrow’s opponents Charlton Athletic.
The relegation-threatened Addicks sacked Chris Powell after losing their FA Cup quarter final tie to Sheffield United and replaced him with former Standard Liege boss Jose Riga.
Charlton are unbeaten in his first three games in charge, and recorded their first win under his watch – a late one against Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth – in midweek.
But their Championship status is hanging in the balance, with only goal difference keeping them out of the bottom three, albeit with three games in hand over third bottom Millwall and the teams above them.
Dyche admitted that he had sympathy for Powell’s predicament.
“It was unfortunate to hear about Chris, the demand is never ending, it’s high, everyone wants instant everything,” said the Burnley boss, who was relieved of his duties at Watford after just one year in charge following a change of ownership.
“The challenges and realities of the level in the Championship and football in general, fans don’t always see it and it goes out of the window.
“If you’re not winning, if it’s not going right, ‘off you go, get another one in.’ “The realities of any given situation are not always looked at as closely as they should be, but these people have decisions to make, boardrooms or owners make decisions.
“Every manager is out there trying to work as hard as he can, trying to be successful.
“We’re all doing a version of what we’re attempting to do here.
“But boards and owners have decisions to make, like anything in life, some decide they are right, some decide not, and it’s hard to define.
“I haven’t been in every boardroom, I only know our own.
“What I express to our board is honest and open communication, I don’t give them anything they don’t believe to be true.
“I tell them the truth, about the realities as I see it, what I think we can do with it, how we can change it, adapt it and move it forward.
“I think they value my honesty and trust, and we are aligned as a group, but that’s easy to say when it’s going well.
“We had an awkward spell last year and I think the board were strong with what I suggested was appropriate, and I’m pleased to say a lot of changes have worked.
“But it’s not always an exact science.
“People with massive budgets don’t always work, people with no budget doing things, people in the middle in the middle.
“It’s a difficult business, but we all love it.”
He added: “Obviously, as a young manager myself, you hope you’re given time to build something, you can progress whatever team or club you’ve got.
“But some of the challenges are enormous, in order to do that, and some of the realities against the challenges are mis-aligned, and that puts an ever-increasing demand in the vicious circle of management.
“If you don’t win, people eventually want change, and if you change, and still don’t win, they want change again, rather than build.
“The club (Charlton) have made a decision on it, brought a new manager in and they’ll look to change things accordingly and we have to respond to that and accept it will be another challenging game for us.”
As well as the new manager factor Dyche also feels the pitch, which has been battered by the weather, could be a leveller too.
“It’s not the norm in the Championship these days but I’m sure they don’t want it to be like that,” he said.
“Bournemouth’s wasn’t great when we played there but to be fair they’d had unreal weather for two or three weeks.
“It is what it is.
“They’re slightly more used to it, we’ve got to adapt and play the way that we think is appropriate to win a match.”