Premier League - The Big Interview - Episode 8Sep 28
Survival. We have seen big sides go down in the past few years so anyone that’s outside of those big clubs, the immediate hope has to be survival.
Add to that, we are one of the clubs with the smallest budgets. Even if we have been in the league for six years, we have not moved forward like other clubs. There's no guarantees of making progress.
My hope is that we will survive because of the base and the experience we have. When we first got promoted, I hoped we would stay up but I expected we would get relegated. Now I think my hopes and expectations are as married up as they've ever been previously – that we will survive.
Last year was an anomaly and everything was weird. You can take it out the history books. But if you look at the seasons before last, we were finishing above the relegation spots comfortably.
There is a consistency that breeds success in our squad – we have a group of players who have played and worked together for a long time and who have bought into his Sean Dyche's philosophy.
There is a camaraderie and togetherness that’s been built up and there’s a stability. They follow the same structure each season so that brings the consistency and that confidence.
There’s a danger that consistency and stability can manifest as staleness.
I don’t fear the drop, but I think you need to be mindful of a danger that you become stale. With the same manager and same players that get a bit older we may not be as quick to adapt to new ideas.
Of course every single team now knows how we are going to play, but there’s a difference between that and knowing how to beat it!
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Most important player
We are a side that doesn’t have an obvious superstar – it’s a team of honest working lads. But it's got to be between Ben Mee and Chris Wood and it comes down to if it's going to be scoring goals or a solid defence that keeps us up.
Wood’s goals are crucial but when Mee is out we concede. When Mee missed the first few games of the last season we made a very bad start. He’s the club captain too, he puts his head on the line, organises the defence and he’s a leader.
I love Dwight McNeil but I think he needs a break. He’s been with us straight out of the youth team and got catapulted to the role of Burnley’s saviour but the expectations and responsibility to delivering some element of entertainment at Turf Moor is all on his young shoulders.
He’s a real talent who is growing in confidence every season, he wants to stay with us this season but we might look to cash in on him after next season and he will put himself in the shop.
We just signed Nathan Collins, a highly-rated young defender from Stoke (because of course we did). This is contingency planning for when James Tarkowski leaves us, but he will do well learning the ropes alongside our defence so he will be a world-beater when Mee gets hold of him!
That said, this is a question I always struggle to answer as we don’t really have strength in younger players: our squad is on the older side. I remain hopeful we can add some new players this summer and lower that squad age.
What I’ve missed the most
My dad. He is the reason I started watching football, is the reason I keep watching football and I miss match days with him terribly.
He epitomises everything I love about live football; the match-day routines; debating team selections on the way the ground, predicting scores. Can’t wait for it to come back.
13th - If we make a decent start to the season I think we can improve, but I don’t think we need to be worried if we don’t make a great start.
It’s another season with some new players coming in and the lessons we’ve learned, the break we’ve had will do a world of good. And having fans back in stadiums and the experience of a really hard season will all play a part.