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Cardiff City are our visitors tomorrow and that brings Sean Dyche and Neil Warnock face to face for the fourth time, the previous three when he was in charge of Crystal Palace, Rotherham United and, earlier this season, his current club Cardiff.

He’ll be making his umpteenth visit to Turf Moor as a manager, the first time being in the 1987/88 season when he was with Scarborough, and there were a good number of encounters in the early part of the 2000s when he and Stan Ternent, sworn enemies, came up against each other.

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Tomorrow he’s in charge of a Cardiff side who currently occupy the one remaining relegation place in the league and ahead of their trip from South Wales, he said: “The games are so important now. We’re definitely going to have to take points from these next two games (their next game is at Brighton).

“It’s not just the fixture list, it’s playing teams at the right time, and Burnley have taken advantage of that. You’ve got to give Sean credit. He’s done it year in, year out and he’s as good as anyone in the division with what he has to work with. Burnley and Brighton are what you’re looking at, when you’re trying to establish yourself in the Premier League.”

He added: “When you see our lads play, you can’t question what it means to them, and the fans have been brilliant too, of course. I think the fans have been with them all the time because they can see that they’re giving absolutely everything, and we’re up against it in certain games.

“Our support keeps everyone together really. We’re disappointed that we’re not eight or nine points higher, but I can’t fault the players and I’ve never seen anything other than a fighting spirit in our boys.”

Dyche is delighted with the recent run, the longer one since Christmas and the last two games which have seen us pick up wins against Wolves and Bournemouth but he warned: “We’ve still got work to do, but to balance that we’ve got 24 points from 14 games which in the Premier League is a very strong performance. The one good side of that is that we’ve had to earn it; no one’s given us it.

“You don’t just rely on that, you have to continue to perform and continue to get those points, so I think that’s a good clarity on all levels for all the players and the staff. Early Christmas it wasn’t that they weren’t focused, there was just a lot going on. There was a bit of confusion with different games and challenges, travelling and all the rest of it. Since the Everton game, there has been a lot of clarity with the simple stuff done well.

He added: “At the half way stage, we had a meeting where we said what’s done is done, that’s parked and we need to move forward. We need to all take responsibility, get back to basics and deliver to a high quality. Collectively there’s been a strong attitude to grab hold of the wheel and turn it round to point us in a different direction.

“That’s been the clear mindedness and the bloody mindedness of me and the group to say no excuses, what’s done is done, that’s parked.”

He concluded: “Can you imagine how many people have sent me messages about the league table, or how many people have told the players they got a good result at the weekend, but they still need more? That’s a part of life now, especially with social media streams because you get bombarded with that information. I’m pleased to say the players just stay focused on the job.

“There was only one performance in the four games that we didn’t win that I wasn’t happy with, so a scratch of luck here or there would have put us in a different position. Finding the balance is hard, and there are no mugs in the Premier League. Nobody is only here as cannon-fodder, it just doesn’t work that way.

“Getting a win against Cardiff would mean touching distance of safety and continuing our good return. It shows a lot of hard work, but we’ve got to perform for that to happen.”

 

 

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