'Legs, Hearts, Minds': How the Burnley motto has propelled them towards European football

Sack the manager and transform the playing staff. That is the usual trend of football club owners when their side gets relegated from the Premier League. Yet Burnley took a different route back in 2015.

The Barnfield revolution

In an approach more likely to be seen before the turn of the century, the Burnley board are happy to place the running of the club firmly in the hands of Sean Dyche. With consistent stories of football managers having less involvement in signing and selling players, taking training and even selecting the team in some cases, Dyche has creative freedom over how the Clarets develop.

Rather than using the 2015 relegation parachute payments for recruitment, the Burnley boss opted to pump the majority of their funds into building a new training complex - the Barnfield Training Centre.

With just short of a dozen football pitches, each of various sizes, modern facilities and the opportunity for every player from senior to youth level to train side-by-side, a real team ethic has developed since Barnfield opened early last year - just in time for the Clarets' return to the Premier League.

Success comes from all angles

In an interview recorded for the BBC, Dyche discussed how fan support played a part in the powers above sticking by his decisions. He explained, "there were very few grumblings from the stands about what we changed and that helped." And it is that supportive approach running through the club that has propelled Burnley towards European football. You just have to listen to any Sean Dyche interview who will replace the word 'I' with 'we', showing how much every member of the club, from fan to coaching staff, is valued at Burnley.

One thing you will notice from a trip to Turf Moor is that the fans will never stop singing. This was the case even when Burnley suffered an eleven game streak without a Premier League win just a few weeks ago. Many other supporters would be calling for the manager's head but very few Clarets have a bad word to say about the man that has been at the helm longer than any other current Premier League manager apart from Arsene Wenger.

Yet surely with a tight budget, limited supply of playing staff and passionate but small fanbase for the Premier League Burnley should be fighting against relegation? Not when they put their 'legs, hearts, minds' into every challenge, a motto splashed all over the walls of Barnfield.

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'Legs' - Hard work is done on the training ground

Such attributes are present during every Burnley game and they were exemplified once again when they defeated Leicester City on Saturday. Arguably their biggest game of the season, described by Jermaine Jenas on the BBC as a "Europa League playoff", the Clarets found the magic formula that moved them a step closer towards European football.

A key part of Burnley's success this season has been their work ethic ('legs'). Sean Dyche is proud of his side being one of the fittest in the league and often explains how they have to "work hard for everything they get" - a skill honed in the state-of-the-art Barnfield gym facilities.

The hard graft was exemplified by both of Burnley's goals against Leicester. Pressure from Ashley Barnes forced Wes Morgan into an error and the striker was able to slip through Chris Wood for the opener on six minutes. Wood then hunted down a lost cause three minutes later to earn the corner that resulted in Kevin Long's goal to put the Clarets two goals ahead.

'Hearts and minds' - Burnley have the winning mentality

And it was the second goal that was synonymous with the 'hearts' part of the motto. Whilst the Leicester players found themselves on their heels in the penalty area, Long powered through to get his head on the ball before anyone else.

Yet the third aspect of the motto, 'minds', is just as important. Very few Premier League sides can boast the same organisation as Burnley, hence why they are one of the toughest sides to unlock in England. The Clarets did ride their luck at times against a wasteful Leicester but this is far from the norm for their 2017-18 campaign. Every player is aware of their role and where they need to be at any given time, exemplified again by central defender Long. 

Ben Mee's replacement ensured he positioned himself in the right place at the right time in the final moments of the game to get a deft touch on a dangerous cross to prevent Jamie Vardy grabbing an equaliser. It is also no surprise to see two Clarets, James Tarkowski and Mee, challenging the top spots for most blocks per game this season.

Recruitment and trust are key

How does Dyche ensure every member of his staff buys into the philosophy? Recruitment. Like the team mentality and fan support, Dyche often explains to the media the importance of getting recruitment right. If you are not going to work for your place in the team, you won't become a Claret. Simple.

In an era where more responsibility is being filtered out of the job description for many managers, perhaps more club owners could learn from the Burnley model? It is no fluke that the Clarets are on course for a few trips around Europe next season.