Every game counts and this one is definitely serious
Burnley travel to Ewood Park tonight for a game that gives home manager Tony Mowbray his first taste of an East Lancs derby. He was in charge when they were relegated at the end of last season but, when he got the job in February, had inherited the mess left by the previous incumbent who had been sacked after eight months.
Mowbray admitted he knew little about the fixture and said: “First and foremost I was just happy to be at home,” but added: “As far as it being Burnley, people around this building at the training centre have made me aware the rivalry, the close rivalry of it really. I got two messages on the night from staff here, but everybody was talking about it the next day of course.
“I have to say living in the north east of England, Suffolk and Scotland most of my life I never would have grasped that Blackburn and Burnley and the geography of how close they were to be honest. It is not something that has hit me in the face before of a huge rivalry and yet I can feel it from the people around the building who have lived here all their lives how important this game is to them.
“So like all derbies, and I’ve been involved in a lot of derbies in the various parts of the country, we’ll give it our very best shot and leave no stone unturned in trying to get a result.
“Let’s hope, because it is such a big game, a derby game, that however the game is going the fans are supportive of the lads in the blue and white shirts who are trying their best for them.”
Looking at his team, he added: “We’ll pick a team that is going to be really competitive and give ourselves the best chance to win on Wednesday night. We might change a few around but generally it will be the same group of players. We know what we’ve got and we’ll push on with those players.
“There aren’t too many things to change, but our fans should know that we are going to be committed, we are going to try and win the game, whilst being conscious that we can’t be too open against a Premier League side that can pick holes in you if you aren’t organised and set up properly.
“When I look at Burnley’s squad as well I’m not sure they’ve got huge changes to make in their team, so I would suggest that both teams will be pretty strong. Both teams might have one or two changes from the teams last weekend, but everyone will be committed and trying to win a football match.
“Ultimately we are going to get judged on our league position. Win, lose or draw, this game on Wednesday night will be forgotten in a couple of weeks time. It will be in the history books.”
Sean Dyche was giving nothing away regarding his team selection, although he was certainly hinting at a number of changes to the team that has started the games against Chelsea and West Brom.
Just a year ago he made ten changes for the tie at Accrington but he said: “I think we have changed. The building process year on year has allowed us to have a deeper group, so if I do change the side there are players who I absolutely believe in and players who have played in the Premier League.
“They’re not fringe players any more. We’ve got a squad now that is very competitive. We’ve got players who didn’t play on Saturday who have been brought in here for millions of pounds. They are good players. I believe in the whole squad. It’s not just about eleven players.”
He said: “It’s a great game for the fans and another big, important game for us. I have made it clear many times. I don’t understand the depth of it, having not lived it and breathed it all my life, but, of course, I’m well aware of the feeling in this area and become even more aware of that in my time of being here.
“Every game counts whatever it is. All the games are serious for me, and this one is definitely serious.”
He’s been somewhat quiet about the game, other than commenting on it being a big game for the fans, and he’s continued that right up to the game. “Fan mentality is always different,” Dyche said. They have lived it, breathed it all their lives.
“Our focus is winning. The fans’ focus is all the other stuff, and rightly so, because that’s what gives it its passion and area pride in the team.
“Our job is to focus on playing well and winning. That’s my job and that’s the team’s job. We understand that side of it but my job, and that of my staff, is to focus on the players, the team, the collective unit and going to win a game.”
He added: “I’m sorry to be so boring, but it’s another game for me. I want to win, as simple as that. I can’t keep describing it any other way. That’s my focus as it is on any game, because that’s my job.
“The outside emotion of all these games, for whatever reason, is not really my world. I understand it, but my world is to focus on the team and that’s what I do.”Follow UpTheClarets:
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