Sean Dyche expects Burnley’s new owners to soon be setting him targets beyond simply surviving in the Premier League but said the process of scaling up ambitions at Turf Moor will take time.
Going into Monday’s clash with West Ham, the Clarets are all but assured of another season in the top flight after last Sunday’s 4-0 win away to Wolves moved them clear of trouble at the foot of the table.
With the threat of relegation averted, Burnley can now plan for a sixth consecutive season in the Premier League, and look to implement some of the changes envisioned by the ownership group led by Alan Pace, who took over in late December.
“The outgoing board were reality-bound by the truth of the club – the finances, wages, and all the rest of it,” Dyche said.
“But on the other hand it’s not always the most stimulating thing when all they’re saying is, ‘Just stay in the Premier League’.
“When I speak to Alan, it’s about, ‘Can we move that forward? And if we can, how?’ So the mentality is just a bit beyond that.”
Dyche was clear that, while he and his players had accepted survival as the primary goal, they had always had their own sights set higher in previous campaigns. That changed this time around after a dismal start left Burnley stuck in the relegation zone in December as injuries mounted.
“I don’t go into a season thinking, ‘Can we just stay up?’ but I did after game seven, make no mistake,” Dyche said.
“At game seven, the challenge has changed very quickly. We’ve got injuries everywhere, we’ve got two points after seven games so it’s, ‘OK, let’s refocus the work to stay in the division’.
“But we’ve had seasons when we’ve got to the halfway point and we’re in good shape, you look at what we can go on to rather than what we are running away from.”
For signs of the new ownership’s impact all eyes will be on transfer business conducted at Turf Moor this summer after a lack of signings in the last two windows left Dyche’s squad stretched at times.
“I’ve got a feeling for that already,” Dyche said of his talks with Pace. “We’ve spoken about the bigger picture concept on and off the pitch.
“But he’s been reality-bound. He’s said, ‘We appreciate this needs to grow, rather than you just throw loads of money at it and it’s going to work’.
“They do want to enhance it but at this level of the market, we’re not talking about £20million, that doesn’t shift you radically, that just allows you to try to compete.”
For the past several seasons, Dyche has focused recruitment on the domestic leagues, clear in the belief that signing players already accustomed to English football reduces the risk of a new arrival failing to settle or adapt.
But Dyche said he had also spoken to the club’s ownership about putting in place the sort of support structures which might allow them to look further afield in the future.
“The bigger clubs have all sorts of people to support players – player liaisons, linguists, housing specialists,” he said. “We don’t have any of that. The club doesn’t run like that.
“In my opinion – and I’ve expressed this to the board – if we’re going to go down that road we have to put these support systems in place. These players should be able to come in, slot in and get used to it as quickly as they can off the pitch as much as on it.
“People forget about that, but it needs a lot of finance to support them.”