It would be fair to say that last season Burnley overachieved, finishing seventh in the Premier League and in doing so they qualified for European football for the first time in over fifty years and Sean Dyche was being mooted as a possible future England manager, all seemed rosy at Turf Moor.
As we move into the first international break of the season, it is clear to everybody that Burnley are not in the same rich vein of form as they were last season and they currently sit in 19th position in the table with only one point to their name.
So why are Burnley, the surprise package of last season, now hurtling towards a relegation battle, will Sean Dyche be able to rally the troops yet again and make them the team that many feared last season.
Lack of activity in the transfer window
Much was made after the transfer window closed about Tottenham’s lack of activity in the transfer market this summer.
While that criticism of Tottenham and Daniel Levy was being bandied about in multiple publications, podcasts and TV shows, Burnley were quietly doing a very similar thing.
While Spurs made no summer signings, Burnley did indeed make three summer signings; however, two of those signings, Ben Gibson and Matěj Vydra have yet to play a full 90 minutes between them.
Yes they signed Joe Hart as cover for the injured pair of Tom Heaton and Nick Pope, but unfortunately Hart has continued his slump in performance since arriving at Turf Moor.
Another factor to consider in Burnley’s poor run of form is that they are not a young team, in fact they have had the third highest average age of any Premier League team this season.
With the majority of players in Burnley’s starting eleven in the 28 and above bracket, perhaps an injection of youth is needed to give Burnley a fresh approach.
While you have to admire Sean Dyche for his ability to keep his squad together after the success of last season, the failure to add to that squad has seen Burnley become a bit stale and repetitive.
We all know you have to constantly keep evolving in the Premier League if you are going to stand any chance in surviving in the top flight.
Just a one-off
While Burnley supporters will cherish the run the team went on last season, it very much seems like last season was just a flash in the pan.
Everything just seemed to click for Burnley last season, every player had the best season of their career and Sean Dyche’s tactics worked perfectly.
Now I am not suggesting for one second that Sean Dyche has lost his touch or that the players are over the hill.
However, it is a fairly common troupe of the Premier League that every few seasons a team that are traditionally in a relegation battle will have a season that goes against their normal run of form and finish in the top half of the table, take Leicester winning the league as an extreme example of that.
Perhaps Burnley have now returned to their normal level and will once again have to go through a relegation battle in order to stay in the Premier League.
A much needed break
On the other hand perhaps Burnley’s slow start to this season can be put down to their involvement in Europa League qualifying.
Burnley returned to training earlier than most teams due to their involvement in Europa League qualifying, which began in late July.
Due to their involvement in trying to qualify for the Europa League, Burnley have now played ten competitive games so far this season.
When you compare that to the likes of Watford who have only played five games so far this season and have won every one, it should come to no surprise that Burnley are perhaps a little tired.
Also it is important to consider that Burnley also played two periods of extra time in the second and third round of Europa League qualifying with the second of those extra times coming before their first defeat of the season at home to Watford.
Although they must be disappointed not to have qualified for the Europa League and the added financial bonuses it provides, it could very well have been a blessing in disguise, as it now solely allows them to focus on the Premier League and doesn’t allow for an already thin squad to be stretched even further.
This upcoming international break is the perfect time for Burnley to recharge and reboot before their next Premier League match, 14 days after their last match.
The next six games are absolutely crucial to Burnley’s season if they are to avoid a relegation battle.
With their next four matches against the likes of Wolves, Bournemouth, Cardiff and Huddersfield, Burnley will have to achieve maximum points from all four games to brush off any criticism that is starting to come their way.
Iif they fail to do so then the Clarets faithful may start thinking that they really are in trouble.