By 90Min
November 22, 2017

If one had suggested in August that Burnley Football Club would be perched in seventh place at the summit of the English football league heading into December, the result of such optimised opinion would have surely been sourced through a means of drinking. Heavy drinking.

Yet, that situation now presents itself, with the Clarets shoulder-to-shoulder with Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea. Three of English - if not world - football's biggest names. Burnley are punching so far above their weight, it as akin to Floyd Mayweather going toe-to-toe with Anthony Joshua.

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Their progress is down in no small part to boss Sean Dyche, who is now regarded as one of the finest stewards in the land and even beyond. It could however, be such a different tale for arguably Kettering's most renowned 46-year-old and is testament to perseverance in a man who fits the job like a glove.

Dyche journey to prominence began in October 2012, just months after he was sacked as Watford boss, despite the Hornets' best finish in four years in the Championship. Appointed to takeover the reins at Turf Moor in the wake of Eddie Howe who returned to AFC Bournemouth, Dyche led his side to top-flight promotion just over 18 months later.

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Burnley's bow at the top level was always set to be a baptism of fire and despite turning their Lancashire home into something of a fortress, their away progress evoked nightmares from the very pit of Hades.

The Clarets were presented with a number of challenges in the Premier League with Dyche himself stating the club's inability to attract the best players, at least initially. 

Burnley's first stint in the promised land lasted just a season, but the club won a huge number of fans and plaudits for their rather old-fashioned work ethic and sheer stubbornness in defence.

For the club's owners and hierarchy, relegation may have prompted a change of leadership in the dugout. But Dyche seemed to be the best man for the job, for a family-built, working class side who boasted ethics - aside from piles of cash - that other clubs could only dream of attaining.

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The club stuck with Dyche and after a losing Danny Ings to Liverpool and Kieran Trippier to Spurs, Burnley brought in Andre Gray and James Tarkowski from Brentford, as well as Joey Barton and Aston Villa full-back Matt Lowton. 

After recruiting free transfers and players for little expenditure in their first season back in the top flight, the purchase of Gray alone eclipsed the Clarets' spending of the previous year, as they parachuted back into the second tier.

The striker's 23 league goals helped his side to the Championship title, as Burnley bounced back up once more.

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With Dyche having built the foundations of a stable side, their second stint in the Premier League saw them finish in 16th spot last term. That takes us to the present day and the plans Burnley have made within a set timescale. Those plans are now paying handsome dividends.

Chairman Mike Garlick should be commended for sticking to his guns with Dyche, and it is a pleasant surprise to what we have already witnessed in the opening months of this campaign.

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There is of course more at stake than every for football club owner and its' staff, but had Frank de Boer been afforded more time to turn Crystal Palace into a 'total football' outfit, the Eagles may well have seen similar results further down the line. We will never know.

In the case of Tony Pulis, Slaven Bilic and Ronald Koeman respectively however, those notions are now firmly pipe-dreams, with patience not a prerequisite of the average club. 

There is a fine line that exists between sticking with the right man for the job, and persistence with an individual who is clearly out of his depth. If a manager has lost the faith of the fans as with all three incumbents, there is little a club can do but to bow to the baying hounds.

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But in the midst of a managerial merry-go-round that seems to spiral inexorably out of control, the time for patience, tolerance above all a game-plan for a club's future should be applauded.

In the case of Burnley and Sean Dyche, the two are a rare commodity and a shining example to every chairman and owner across the land as they consider a manager's future, with the ink not even dry on their current steward's contract. The Clarets' perseverance is now paying off.

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