Burnley caretaker manager Mike Jackson wants no change in mentality going into Sunday’s relegation decider against Newcastle but admitted his players must manage the emotions of the game.
After Thursday’s 1-1 draw at Aston Villa, Burnley go into the final day of the season outside the bottom three on goal difference, knowing if they can match Leeds’ result away to Brentford they can look forward to another season in the top flight.
That would complete a remarkable turnaround with Jackson having won three and drawn two of his seven games since replacing Sean Dyche, but the pressure has been on at Turf Moor for some time given the predicament they were in, and Jackson said Sunday would be no different.
“I think every game we’ve had since I’ve been here, they’ve said it’s a must,” he said.
“We must get something out of this game or that game, and the lads have been delivering. The performances have been strong.
“In the Villa game at home we made some errors, we made an error for the goal last night, but the players have had that around them now for the last six or seven games, they’re used to living in that and that will stand them in good stead.
“We know Sunday is going to be emotional. We’ll try and take that out of it, use some of it, take a bit of fire from it and go and attack the moment again.”
Jackson called Burnley’s performance at Villa Park an “absolute masterclass in defending” as they battled to take a point, going ahead through an Ashley Barnes penalty before Emi Buendia brought Villa level after a move that began with an apparent foul throw from Matty Cash.
But it was another display that told Jackson his players are handling the pressure.
“I think that’s where they’re at their best,” he said. “When I watch that game back, some of the work put in, the details we’ve worked on and been focusing on.
“If you take all the noise out of it, we’ve come away with a point. We still have to get some sort of result so it’s not really changed anything.
“We’re in a little bit of a better position and we’re just looking forward now.”
Burnley conceded a contentious penalty in last weekend’s 1-0 defeat by Tottenham for a Barnes handball, but were denied a spot-kick of their own at Villa Park for a similar incident involving Lucas Digne.
Barnes pointed to both that, and Cash’s foul throw, in calling for greater consistency from officials.
“The consistency of the VAR situation and the referees, the decisions, they have to improve,” the forward said.
“We were waiting five minutes at Spurs for a decision and the same yesterday. They were exactly the same, his probably more clear than mine, but because my arm was stretched out they gave it. The decisions are vital.
“You’ve seen the throw-in as well that leads to their goal. It’s a hard one to take, he’s on the pitch when he threw it.”
Barnes was in the Burnley squad when they suffered their last relegation eight years ago. The 32-year-old was also part of the side that earned European football in 2018, but said avoiding the drop this weekend would be a high point in his Clarets career.
“It would be a huge achievement from where we were,” he said. “To win three games in 20-odd, that’s not good enough, that’s relegation staring at you. The lads have done well to turn it around and hopefully now we can get this final win at the weekend, get out of there and be safe.”
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