Sean Dyche sees no reason for Burnley to “swagger” into Brighton on Saturday despite the fact the Clarets temporarily moved into the Premier League’s top four this week.
Burnley players will meet the Seagulls with a spring in their step having already accrued 31 points from 17 games, just nine fewer than they managed across the entire 2016-17 season.
Tuesday’s victory over Stoke, their sixth win in eight games, momentarily lifted Burnley into the Champions League places and they go into the weekend level on points with fourth-placed Tottenham.
Though he envisaged another campaign of progress at Turf Moor, even Dyche has been taken aback by their current place in the standings, not that he expects to see his grounded squad strut around on the south coast.
“I don’t know about a swagger but I think there’s a slightly more assuredness about our own team,” he said.
“There’s a healthy respect for the opposition but that goes out of the window when the whistle goes and there’s clear-mindedness for how we perform to get what we want.
“Those things are in place but I don’t think we’ve got to the level where we’re swaggering into places. That’s for people who’ve been in the division’s top end for a lot longer than us.
“There’s a more ‘at-ease’ mentality, you are going into these stadiums with that bit more about you. You’re going, ‘OK, I can perform, I can take on that challenge’.
“It’s growing but it needs to be looked after. Football can be a fragile business. We’re on the right side of the margins because we’re working in the right manner to get on the right side.”
Burnley were pre-season favourites for the drop with several bookmakers but have not looked back since beating reigning champions Chelsea in their opening game.
They were sixth after that success but remaining there as Christmas approaches has been beyond even Dyche’s wildest dreams.
“I’m always a realist – I didn’t think we could get to where we have got this early,” he added.
“The Premier League is so difficult. I thought we were better off than last year and the group was looking better, particularly as we got to the end of pre-season and looked at the first few games.
“I’d be lying if I said we could hit this points tally this early on because the Premier League is very, very difficult. Even when you’re playing well you can still lose a game. Teams can be better than you on the day, the standard raises. I’ve been pleased with the performance level and it has brought good points.
“Our target overall is to build on last year. I try and simplify it – the players are aligned with that.”