Mike Jackson is drawing on all the experience at his disposal to try to keep Burnley in the Premier League.
The Clarets have climbed out of the bottom three after picking up 10 points from four games since Jackson was appointed interim manager following the sacking of Sean Dyche and appear to be in a three-way battle with Leeds and Everton to avoid the final relegation spot.
Burnley captain Ben Mee has been seeing life from the other side of the touchline as he works his way back to fitness and Jackson revealed midfielder Ashley Westwood, who suffered a serious ankle injury last month, is also helping out behind the scenes.
“It’s about you not being too proud of your own self when you can use other information around you,” said Jackson.
“He’s joined our club in the ‘Batcave’, watching the analysis, watching games. (Westwood has) great experience as a player, good knowledge. He’s looking to get into coaching, he’s doing his coaching badges.
“He can have different insight into what midfield players are seeing, so that only helps us. Credit to him. That shows his character. He could sit at home now but he’s not, he’s thinking, ‘How can I help?’.”
Jackson’s remarkable success since stepping up from his under-23 role at short notice has earned him a nomination for the Premier League manager of the month.
“I’ve just heard that now,” said the 48-year-old. “It’s good but it’s about the whole group, it’s about everybody continuing to do what we’ve been doing over this last couple of weeks.
“They go out and play the games. There’s a lot of people involved in doing this. I’m just a humble guy. I never look at it for me. It’s nice but it’s not something I crave or that means loads to me personally.”
The survival stakes were raised externally this week with the club’s financial results revealing that a significant proportion of a £65million loan taken out as part of last season’s takeover will be due for repayment immediately if Burnley are relegated.
Jackson, who is continuing to work on a game-by-game basis, is trying to keep the bigger picture away from his squad, saying of the fight against relegation: “It’s huge but we can’t look at it too much like that.
“We can’t let it become a monster. We know how much it means to everybody – the fans, the club, the whole thing. All I can say is we’re fighting to try to achieve that. That’s our total purpose.”
Bizarrely, two of Burnley’s last four games are against Aston Villa, with the away fixture postponed from December because of Covid-19 cases in the Villa squad.
This weekend sees Steve Gerrard’s side visit Turf Moor having ended a run of five games without victory last time out against Norwich.
Jackson said: “It is odd when you’ve not played a team at this stage of the season. Villa are a good side, good manager obviously, a good set of staff.
“But it’s like any team in the Premier League, they have their strengths and their weaknesses. They’ve got some quality players, we know that, and it’s about us being right on the day and attacking those moments. That’s what we’ve done so far.”