Sean Dyche insisted Burnley can still get themselves out of trouble after their crunch Premier League match against fellow relegation candidates Watford ended in a goalless draw on Saturday night.
A series of postponements meant this was only Burnley’s fourth league game since mid-December, but they have belatedly reached the midpoint of the campaign with only one win from 19 – no side has come this far with one or fewer victories and survived since West Brom in 2004-05.
Burnley sit bottom of the table, three points adrift of Norwich in 17th, and though they still have games in hand, they must find an answer to their goalscoring problems if they are to take advantage of any of them.
With Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea the next visitors to Turf Moor, a fixture against a Watford side who had taken only one point from a possible 24 – a run which cost Claudio Ranieri his job – was a clear opportunity, but one Burnley could not take.
“If it is as easy to take what you describe as a missed opportunity then everyone would take them and win every week,” Dyche said.
“I think it is a performance which could have got a win but we didn’t get it and that has been sort of the story of the season.
“So now it is about adding to what we are doing, keeping the base which has to be right in terms of clean sheets, but we have got to start turning draws into wins and sometimes turning what looks like a game that is getting away from you into a draw.
“We have done that historically and we have got to do it again.”
The games will pile up for Burnley as they make up for lost time, but Dyche sees that as an opportunity, pointing to the runs the Clarets have used in each of the last two seasons to pull clear of trouble.
“Historically we’ve been strong in the second half of the season and we’re going to need all of that this season for sure,” he said.
“We’re a point better off than we were a few seasons ago – it might not sound like a lot, but it could be defining, you never know.”
There was an audible buzz at Turf Moor before kick-off as fans got their first look at the 6ft 6in deadline day signing Wout Weghorst, brought in to replace Chris Wood.
The Dutchman, who scored 59 goals in 118 Bundesliga appearances for Wolfsburg, showed some flashes and linked up well with Maxwel Cornet, but could not end Burnley’s wait for a first home league goal since November 20.
“I think Wout did really well,” Dyche said. “It’s not easy to come into a group, he’s accepted what the group are about. He’ll give us hold up play, he’ll give us quality and as he gets used to the tempo of the Premier League, when he gets his eye in, I think he’ll do well.”
Saturday’s match saw Roy Hodgson return to the Premier League, although the 74-year-old could have been forgiven for wondering if it was all worthwhile as he stood drenched on the touchline.
His Watford side are two points better off than Burnley having played two games more.
“The task has become no easier or harder as a result of today but what it has done is give Ray Lewington and myself a much better idea of what the players are capable of,” Hodgson said.
“When you fall behind in this league you are playing catch-up. The only way to recover is to win matches. We are not underestimating the task.
“It has given me a lot of encouragement that this team does have the fight, the ability to organise themselves and come away from Burnley with a point.”