Wednesday 23 August 2017

Proud Dyche delights in defying doubters as Burnley all but seal survival

Sean Dyche's Burnley edged closer to safety
Sean Dyche's Burnley edged closer to safety

Sean Dyche saw Burnley reach the 40-point mark that all but confirmed their Premier League survival and spoke of his pride at how his team have defied the odds.

The Clarets drew 2-2 against West Brom at Turf Moor, with the second of Sam Vokes' two goals coming four minutes from time, to reach the figure widely regarded as sufficient to stay up.

Last season's second-tier champions had been tipped to go straight back down by most bookmakers, as they had done in their previous two Premier League tilts, yet they now own a six-point advantage and a far superior goal difference over 18th-placed Hull with only two fixtures remaining.

"There will be a statistician somewhere who will probably say it is (done)," Dyche said.

"For total peace of mind you want it done with the points, but there's a massive goal difference, massive swing, particularly with two games (left). We'll wait but I think it's pretty much there."

Asked about the scale of the achievement, Dyche added: " It just shows it's very difficult.

"It's very difficult at the top level of football without major finance, we did it to a reasonable degree for a club of this size. Nowhere near everyone else.

"It's more about wages. There are teams who get players on frees who are paying astronomical wages. We are good on both and that's because we have to be. It's the way this club has to work. I manage what I am given.

"I take great pride in that we all see beyond that and we got on with it. We take some knocks along the way, question marks about how we are trying to play, but 40 points, with two games left, for a team that was given absolutely zero chance of being in the Premier League, I think that's a fair marker."

A top-half finish is still attainable for the Clarets, who had led through Vokes' 56th-minute opener, which came when referee Mike Jones played advantage after his assistant flagged for a penalty when Barnes was brought down by Jake Livermore.

However, eight hours and 51 minutes after West Brom last scored, Salomon Rondon levelled with his first goal since December and Craig Dawson put the visitors ahead before Vokes capitalised to level with a header when goalkeeper Ben Foster completely misjudged the flight of Robbie Brady's free-kick.

Vokes' equaliser denied the Baggies a first away victory of 2017, but they at least ended their goal drought and answered the critics who have accused them of occupying the beach before the term has finished.

"It's been important to stop it," Pulis said of their recent run.

"People say it's a rot - sometimes you get breaks, sometimes you don't. In the previous five there's no way you could criticise the way we played or their effort. Things have just not dropped for us."

The fact Rondon was the one who scored their first goal in almost nine hours was also appreciated.

"I think everyone at the club is so pleased for Sol," Pulis added.

"He's kept going. We have two strikers. Hal (Robson-Kanu) is injured. Sol has had to take responsibility and carry the team when he could have done with a break.

"Everyone respects him. In training and games, he never stops, he just needed a goal. Hopefully that perks him up."

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