Off Season Previews: Burnley
With the World Cup drawing to a close, focus soon turns to club football once again. In this series I will be previewing the new season for each Premier League club. This piece will look ahead to Burnley’s upcoming 2018/19 season.
(Notable) Loan Returns:
Dean Marney CM, Scott Arfield CM
Net Spend: +£225k
The leagues perennial overachievers have had themselves a quite summer so far. Whilst often for a club their size, the best deals can be found late in the window, it looks like an off season of little change for this team. The season ahead looks set to be a philosophical discussion in action, continuity vs stagnation.
Ideally for a club showing little urgency, the teams current core is stocked full of young players, so to expect internal improvement. Whilst England back up Nick Pope, along with a defensive duo Tarkowski and Tayor, are nice young pieces, the average age of the squad is an alarmingly just under 29. Or is it alarming? Here presents the conundrum Burnley are banking they’re correct on. This is a squad that finished 7th in the Premier League last season. Another way to look at a 7th placed squad with an average age of ~29 is to believe they will be hitting their peak.
The club can certainly put out a solid starting line up. The defence will continue to rank top 10, whilst the trio of Brady, Gudmunsson and Defour will be tasked with creating opportunities for themselves and others. Chris Woods overall game may lack some, but his presence and movement in the box make him a threat to score on a weekly basis.
Burnley also possess weapons off the bench. In Nahki Wells and Aaron Lennon, Sean Dyche has pace to bring on that can stretch any tired opposition legs. John Walters, if not an impact substitution, can fill a number of roles from the beginning seamlessly. Ashley Barnes and Sam Wokes both cause havoc from crosses should Dyche choose to go more direct.
This said, goals are still a concern. Whilst it is understandable why management believe in this team, you hope they don’t rest on their laurels. The only way a club of Burnley’s stature stays ahead is to be pro active. A younger, diminutive, off the cuff spark plug to use accordingly, whether that be from midfield or up front, should be on the clubs shortlist.
Under Sean Dyche’s stewardship, Burnley are edging towards a place where avoiding relegation is an expectation. The key to reaching that place? Keeping Sean Dyche.
My (way too early) Prediction: 13th
There are legitimate concerns about this squad, along with the detriment of stagnation being a real issue. Despite this, the management’s achievements at this club have earnt trust. Part of what leads me to believe they will follow up last year in similar fashion is the volatility of the clubs surrounding them. Whilst rival teams fluctuate in performance from week to week, Burnley are reassuringly predictable. You know at their worst, they will still make you beat them. They should accumulate enough points from the disorganised teams to finish in the middle pack.
My biggest concern if I’m a Burnley fan? Losing Sean Dyche. With the aforementioned volatility of the surrounding clubs, what happens when Dyche gets headhunted? Can he turn down a club of Everton, Newcastle, Southampton or West Ham’s stature down? My main frustration regarding Burnley’s lack of ambition in the transfer window isn’t regarding results on the pitch, more so whether they can continue to match their manager’s ambition off the pitch. Should Dyche succumb to a bigger clubs sales pitch, this teams equity within the division diminishes immediately.