Evening Express

Dyche sees Europa League battle with Aberdeen as a ‘badge of honour’ for Burnley

Sean Dyche

Burnley boss Sean Dyche insists no one within Turf Moor will underestimate the Dons’ threat in the Euro return.

The Premier League Clarets hold the upper hand in the Battle of Britain, having grabbed a late away goal to secure a 1-1 draw in the first leg at Pittodrie.

However, Dyche insisted he, his players and the club’s supporters will take nothing for granted in the second qualifying round second leg on Thursday.

That is because everyone within Burnley views European action as a “badge of honour” after years of rebuilding and hard graft that culminated in finishing seventh in the Premier League.

That elevated status secured Euro qualification for the first time in 52 years.

It did not come easy and Burnley aim to put up a fight against the Reds to remain in the tournament.

Dyche said: “There are no delusions of grandeur with us and playing Aberdeen in Europe is another marker of our progression and how far we have come.

“We don’t take anything for granted and our concentration is fully on this tie with Aberdeen.

“To be fair to our fans, they will have seen the work that has gone into the last six years.

“So I certainly don’t think they take things for granted either.

“They know that we have to work for every performance and have to work for every result.

“I don’t think there is a Burnley fan – I certainly don’t meet them – who thinks that every game we go into will just take care of itself.

“We did not go back home thinking it was a done deal (after Pittodrie).

“We will have to work for everything, as we always have done.

“There is a real feeling about the town about the Europa League.

“The strides have been considerable over the last number of years so to get to these times is maybe another thing for us as opposed to other clubs.

“We look at it as a real badge of honour to be playing in this competition.

“I think the fans look at it that way as well.”

Burnley’s last Euro game was a 2-1 to Eintracht Frankfurt in the Inter Cities Fairs Cup in, 1967.

Dyche insists qualifying for Europe was a welcome by-product of trying to stabilise and strengthen the club after yo-yoing between the top flight and Championship.

Although the Clarets were promoted to the top flight in Dyche’s first full season in charge, they dropped straight back down.

They rallied to win the title in 2015-16 and retained their status in 2017 by finishing 16th.

Pundits predicted another relegation scrap last season but Burnley defied expectation to finish seventh and seal a Euro spot.

Dyche said: “We were not working away and thinking it was going to end up in Europe. We were working towards stabilising the club when we first came in and turning it round financially and with players.

“We have had to add stage by stage and have had a few knocks along the way.

“Back in that season (2014-15) we took a relegation then remodelled and moved forward again.

“It probably looks easy to the outside world when they say Burnley did this and did that. But it has not been easy.

“It would be too grandiose to say we were planning on it leading to qualifying for Europe.

“But the reality is it has and we are out to make the most of it.”

Burnley drew 0-0 with French side Montpellier at Turf Moor on Sunday with Jeff Hendrick the only player in the starting 11 who started against Aberdeen.

Ultimately the domestic season must take precedence as the long-term future of the club relies on top-flight football.Burnley received £120million in Premier League payments for finishing seventh while reaching the Europa League group stages brings little more than £3m.

He said: “A lot of work went into last season and we felt we learnt as a staff.

“Our got more experience and had the opportunity to feel more settled in the Premier League.

“That is a big part of it – to feel assured and that you can deliver a performance.

“That has grown in the team.

“It doesn’t guarantee you anything but it just gives you a better chance because the players’ belief in themselves and in each other is heightened.

“Last season that added together to make a strong unit which in turn gave some strong performances over the season.

“We are forever trying to build and forever trying to improve.

“We don’t think we are the finished article so we have to continue.”