AFTER signing a new two-year deal with Burnley, Kevin Long says he was delighted to end the uncertainty surrounding his future by committing to the Clarets until June 2023.
Long joined Burnley in January 2010 from Cork City and although the defender acknowledged that he has not played as many games during that time with the club as he would liked to, Long is delighted to have extended his contract and continue working with Burnley manager Sean Dyche.
“I’m delighted to sign my new contract. Talks have been going on for a few months and it’s great to have clarity about my future now,” Long said.
“There is so much uncertainty in football, especially now, that it was in the back of my mind what my future would hold but after signing my new deal, I don’t need to worry about that.
“Of course, I would have liked to have played more games, but I’m used to my role at the club.
“I know I will get opportunities to play in games like I have in the past, and I just need to stay in the right mind frame for when I am called upon.
The manager here likes me, and he’s always been great to work under. Even when I’m not in the team he makes sure to keep me on my toes.
“When I was playing at the start of the season and came out of the team, I remember the manager pulling me into the office talking to me about my stats in training and that they were not at the levels they should be and I need to be working harder.
“Some players might be annoyed being left out of the team and then having the manager having a word about their stats being below what they should be in training, but I saw it as a positive.
“It shows why he is such a good manager. The gaffer demands everyone gives their all whether you are in the team or not.
“Some managers might forget about players not being in the starting team, but the gaffer here keeps everyone on their toes.
“Players must give 100% and if they don’t, the manager will let them know and if players aren’t prepared to do it then they won’t be part of his plans.
“The gaffer is big on fitness. He demands hard work and that players are very fit.
“Players that aren’t in the starting team will often do extra with the fitness coach to make sure to keep up our fitness levels.
“Players like me, have to be fit when called upon because if we aren’t and we start a Premier League game, we will be found out quick because the league is ruthless, and it doesn’t allow you to be sluggish.
It’s been said so often in the past, how good a manager the gaffer is but I still don’t think he gets the credit he deserves.
“He believes in a philosophy and wants players to buy into it and the players understand that it will get us results.
“Even if we lose a few games, like we did at the start of the season, we don’t lose focus, we just move onto the next game, knowing that things will eventually work.
“We are starting to keep more clean sheets and scoring more goals than we did at the beginning of the season and we are seeing some positive results now.”
The pandemic has caused changes throughout every business.
The biggest change in football has been the non-existence of supporters at games something that Long thinks did have an impact on the tempo of games but believes that players are getting used to the new ‘normal’ in the sport.
“I think when games returned from the first lockdown, the tempo was taken out of games a little bit.
“Not having supporters in stadiums certainly made a big difference. Not having fans at games made it feel like there was less pressure and is probably the reason why the tempo was not what it used to be.
“It probably affected the top players in the league the most because I assume, they thrive under pressure, but players are getting used to the new circumstances now.
“In games, we must take three buses, the starting 11 get changed in one dressing and the substitutes go to a different dressing room and then we only go into the same dressing room when the manager is giving his team talk.
“The new circumstances have probably hurt younger players the most. In the past, younger players might travel to games even if they weren’t in the squad, to gain a bit of experience of what it’s like being in and around the first team but they can’t now because there is a restriction on the number of players that can attend games.
“The training ground is different as well. We have a Covid compliance officer who makes sure that all of the players stick to regulations.
“We have to wear masks all of the time. We are no longer allowed to have lunch together and players have to sit separately.
“Getting changed, going out for training there are only four players allowed in the changing room.
“It’s strange but we know that we have to abide to the rules for our safety.”