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Exclusive: Robbie Blake talks Burnley success, Dyche leaving & McNeil future

Former Burnley striker Robbie Blake has given his thoughts on the secrets behind the Clarets' success, how the club would fare should Sean Dyche leave, and why Dwight McNeil is ready for a big move.

Blake, whose match-winning goal against Manchester United in 2009 marked the beginning of Burnley's Premier League adventure, has recently moved into coaching with Isthmian League Premier Division side Bognor Regis Town. He is well placed, then, to talk about the managerial setup at Turf Moor and what's behind their extended run in the top flight.

"It's purely down to hard work, dedication, team spirit, and believing in anything the manager tells you," Blake told Tribal Football. "I'm a firm believer if you've got 11 players working hard for each other that can overcome a lot of talent. It's so evident with Burnley, they're so well organised, so well set up.

"The manager gets every ounce out of his players, and the players know everything required of them. Once you've got that team spirit, education, and will to win, that stands you in good stead at any level. Most squads in the Premier League are more talented than Burnley's, but the hard work and commitment shows what you can achieve."

Blake believes the club would seriously struggle if Sean Dyche left, although their financial security means there is only so far they could fall.

"It would be very difficult if Dyche left. He knows that club from top to bottom, and if a new manager comes in he'd have a different personality and way of playing that would take time to adjust to. It would be a big blow to lose a manger of that class, given what he's done.

"The club will always be in good hands, and whoever came in would inherit a good club with a solid foundation, but it's very difficult to sustain that level."

The former Clarets striker, who scored 61 goals in almost 250 league appearances for the club, also spoke highly of Burnley's newest star Dwight McNeil. However, he warned that the winger may soon be leaving for a bigger club.

"Inevitably when a young player comes through and he's playing for a team like Burnley and getting rave reviews, it's no disrespect to Burnley but a player of his quality – he's going to get recognition and that happens.

"But Burnley is a football club that's not silly, and they know if a bigger team comes in for a player of that quality a deal will have to be done. I think he's a very talented player and he's doing great as a firm favourite in the team, so he's going to attract attention. That's just the way the world is and how clubs are.

"I'm sure the Burnley supporters would understand that if a top class team comes in and the money's right, they won't stand in his way. I think he's ready now to go on and sign for a bigger club."

Alex Keble
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Alex Keble

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