(Reuters) – Burnley cannot get carried away by the form that has propelled them up the Premier League table and must focus on their primary target of finishing higher than last season, manager Sean Dyche said on Thursday.
The Lancashire side have achieved above expectations to sit in sixth place after nine wins, four draws and four defeats and are level on 31 points with Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur.
“The first target is to try and achieve something better than we did last season, both in the team developing and of course results because that’s the main judgement.
“I think we are finding a good mixture of both, the players are reality bound here. We know it’s an ongoing challenge and we know it will be but it’s to be enjoyed without a shadow of a doubt.”
Despite being on course to improve on last season’s 16th-placed finish, Dyche said Burnley were not in a position to be “swaggering into places.”
“We are realistic. The fans are realistic. Football can be a fragile business. Five years ago we were having to sell players,” Dyche told a news conference ahead of Saturday’s trip to Brighton and Hove Albion.
Defenders Ben Mee and Matt Lowton could both return to the squad at Brighton after recovering from knee injuries while Stephen Ward will be assessed on Friday.
Meanwhile, Brighton manager Chris Hughton said his team faces “two big games” against Burnley and Watford and backed his team to get their season back on track.
After a positive start to the season, Brighton have lost four of their last five games to sit in 13th with 17 points.
“We are a newly promoted team. We went through a good period but we are now among a group of teams that are not in good form. We aren’t happy with it and are very conscious of the facts. The next two games are very big.
“We need any win badly. These are the challenges that will face us all season. Whenever you lose, it puts more pressure on the next game. This is the challenge and we are a team that rises to those.”
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar)