It gives the players a chance to sign off in the correct fashion
Bournemouth travel to Turf Moor tomorrow to end the season with their manager Eddie Howe set to become the longest serving of all the Premier League managers once Arsène Wenger has said his goodbyes at Arsenal.
It was Howe who paved the way for Sean Dyche to come into Burnley back in October 2012 and both have enjoyed outstanding success at their respective clubs ever since with Bournemouth set to enjoy a fourth successive Premier League season.
Bournemouth are one of four clubs on 41 points and the result could make a difference of not much short of £10 million for them in terms of where they could finish, but Howe said: “We know the league placing is important but, for me, the money is not my first motivation.
“I want the club to earn as much as it can but it’s the individual pride and collective responsibility that we need to finish as high as we possibly can so we are taking the game very seriously.”
The Burnley squad looks somewhat different than the one he left over five years ago. Only Jack Cork, who was then on loan from Chelsea, Dean Marney and Kevin Long remain from the squad he inherited and they are along the two remaining Howe signings at Turf Moor, Ben Mee and Sam Vokes.
Mee won’t play because of injury, but Howe said of Vokes, one of his last permanent Burnley signings: “I have always had a real soft spot for Sam. I signed him at Burnley on the back of what I had seen in his early career. He just needed a home and a club to invest time in him and make him feel wanted, he hasn’t looked back at Burnley.
“He is a difficult player to stop because he is technically very good and I think that often goes missed with Sam. He is very good with his feet, strong, has a really good frame to use as a building block for attacks and aerially, of course, is his main strength. He is a little bit like Steve Fletcher but is a lot better version, without criticising Fletch too much. When crosses come into the box he is where he needs to be. He is a real goal threat and certainly a player we need to be aware of.”
Howe was still a player at Bournemouth when Vokes came through and was in the team, as was Cork, on loan at Bournemouth at the time, when Sam made his league debut in December 2006.
“In the first sighting of Sam I thought ‘wow, physically what a specimen’. Then he backed that up in the early training sessions we had with him,” Howe added.
“Technically he was good, he was aerially good and you think ‘where has this player been?’ because it was the first we had seen of him. A lot of young players do well in training, then the game comes and it’s a little bit too much for them. Sam was almost inspired by the occasion and the challenge of the games.
“You had no doubts about his ability to handle things physically. He needed to improve his fitness as a young kid, I remember he could only last half an hour in the very early stages of his career. Then he built his endurance and is now performing really well in the Premier League. He has had a great season.”
Sean Dyche wants to end this remarkable season on a high, especially for the Burnley fans. “They’ve backed the team so I want to finish off properly,” he said. “I would imagine there will certainly be a positive atmosphere and it gives the players a chance to sign off in the correct fashion. We want the players to enjoy the game.
“We’ve done very well all season. There was a substantial blip last week at Arsenal. It was the first time our players had nothing to play for in that sense. Now there is something to play for in a different sense. Last home game. Fantastic fan base. We want to finish with a win.
“We expect a good performance. We want a good performance. We want the players to go and take on the game.”
The game may or may not see final Burnley appearances from Scott Arfield and Dean Marney. Dyche said: “Scott and Deano have been massive players for this football club, Deano before I was here and during my time and Scotty, of course, while I’ve been here.”
“We wish them all the very best going forward and we’ll make a decision with them, which is important to remember, about Sunday because they’ve got careers beyond this. We’ve got to be careful that they are happy to be involved, or not as the case may be. We will be respectful and, fortunately, we are in a position to be respectful to that because of the situation we find ourselves in.”
It wasn’t just the departing duo he paid tribute to but all the players, past and present, who have been within him since he became Burnley manager. “The respect I have for everyone who has played for this club in my time here is right up there,” he said.
“Everyone who has worn our jersey has put in a shift. They’ve all been at least willing to listen and work and be diligent to the job and the team and we can only thank those players. They will probably never understand what it’s meant to the people here.”
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