(Reuters) - Qualifying for the Europa League next season would be a badge of honour to mark Burnley’s significant progress in the last five years, manager Sean Dyche has said.
Dyche led Burnley back to the Premier League by winning the second-tier Championship in the 2015-16 season and less than two years later, the club are on the brink of sealing European qualification for the first time since the 1960s.
A win for Burnley in Saturday’s league clash with Leicester City would see the Lancashire club go nine points clear in seventh position and in line to qualify for the Europa League, provided Southampton do not win the FA Cup.
“The obvious positive is the badge of honour,” Dyche told ESPN. “For Burnley to be playing in Europe, that’s an incredible thing in itself, but it’s not an easy thing...
“Certainly when I arrived here five years ago, if I had said that we would be talking about qualifying for the Europa League people would have said I was mad.
“But just for the badge of honour, for a club like this to be recognised in European football would show the massive, massive strides that have been made in the past five years.”
Dyche believes that the Europa League will come with its own set of challenges with a packed fixture list chief among those concerns. However, he added that Burnley’s experience in the Championship in recent years will help the club cope.
The 46-year-old has been named the Premier League’s manager of the month for the first time after leading Burnley to three consecutive wins in March.
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola is favourite to be handed the Manager of the Year award as his team are on the brink of lifting the league title.
However, Dyche says Millwall boss Neil Harris and Accrington Stanley manager John Coleman are more worthy candidates for the prize as they have done tremendous work in difficult conditions at lower league clubs.
“Behind some of the situations there are a lot of challenges for managers, and I think Neil Harris has done a fantastic job,” Dyche added. “John Coleman gets a mention too. I think he has done an amazing job at Accrington.
“I try and look not just at the position of the club, as in whether they are in the Premier League or not, it’s more about the work that is being done.”
Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge