Burnley surprised almost everyone in the Championship last term. The relentless approach instilled by Sean Dyche mean the team never stopped. It’s often the case that teams unexpectedly at the top of the table find themselves faltering and questioning themselves. Not under Sean Dyche. His ultra-logical approach led him to dismiss the idea of worrying about what had gone before. Burnley broke loads of club records, the most memorable of which is the win against bitter rivals Blackburn Rovers. He prevented his players from taking their eyes off the ball at any stage.
Dyche created a team who never looked like failing. Somehow, the whole club was taken on a journey that elevated it to a level where confidence, but not arrogance, reined supreme. Under Dyche, the Burnley team felt invincible. They weren’t, but they might as well have been.
The season ended with promotion to the Premier League, the best reward for their impressive consistency. Last time Burnley were in the Premier League, the lasting memory was Owen Coyle’s questionable mid-season move to Bolton. Burnley fans will be hoping to avoid those sorts of events and enjoy the top flight this time.
There’s a real underdog mentality in this Burnley side. Everyone involved with the club will be aiming to defy the odds this season – which are quite understandably stacked against them. Proving everyone wrong is unapologetically the goal.
Last season: 2nd (Championship)
Odds (relegation): 3/5
In: Michael Kightly (Stoke, undisclosed), Matt Gilks (Blackpool, free), Marvin Sordell (Bolton, free), Matt Taylor (West Ham, free), Lukas Jutkiewicz (Middlesbrough, £1.5m-£2.5m reported), Steven Reid (West Brom, free)
Out: Junior Stanislas (Bournemouth, free), Keith Treacy (released), David Edgar (Birmingham, free), Brian Stock (released), Nick Liversedge (released).
The summer has seen six new arrivals for Burnley so far. While none of them have been particularly inspiring, all signings have bolstered a small squad. The first arrival of the summer was Michael Kightly, who spent last term at Burnley on loan from Stoke. Kightly showed some promising signs towards the end of last season and provided a few crucial goals at the end of the campaign.
Next in the door was out of contract Blackpool goalkeeper Matt Gilks. Gilks will provide cover for Tom Heaton, and it’ll be nice for Dyche to have some genuine competition for the goalkeeper spot. Marvin Sordell and Matt Taylor signed on the same day, with Sordell hoping to finally prove his potential and Taylor providing important Premier League experience.
Along the same lines, Steven Reid signed three days later, again bolstering the squad and providing experience. The latest player to sign has been perhaps the most controversial . The fee paid for Lukas Jutkiewicz (reported to be from around £1.5million to £2.5million) is a little on the expensive side for some fans. Despite this, Jutkiewicz has a lot to prove, and fans saw last season how that mentality can be useful in motivating a player.
Other than transfers, deep stadium infrastructure improvements have had to take place over the summer. The club have installed new press facilities, there are brand new seats in one stand and a new location for the players’ tunnel. A presumably expensive scanner entry system has replaced the old fashioned turnstiles. There’s been the construction of a new TV gantry for 3D broadcasts, and the installation of those fancy electronic advertising hoardings (finally). It’ll take a lot for Turf Moor to be considered a modern stadium, but Premier League regulations mean the Club are at least trying to update things while keeping much of the ground’s charm.
Notable mentions should go to Danny Ings, Sam Vokes and Jason Shackell, but Kieran Trippier will perhaps be the team’s most important player. Last season, Trippier not only showed exceptional defensive ability (despite taking a few minutes to get settled into games) but also provided a genuine attacking threat on the right wing.
Trippier’s cross delivery was arguably the best in the league last season, and goals will be as important as anything for Burnley next season. Burnley are, however, a cohesive unit and a team, rather than a group of individuals. Each player will fight for every other teammate and that attribute is far more important than the effect any one player will have on the season.
One to Watch
Marvin Sordell will be an interesting one to watch. After impressing at Watford under Dyche’s leadership — in the youth system as well as the first team — Sordell has struggled to live up to his billing.
Sordell won’t be first on the team sheet by any stretch of the imagination, but how he fares once he does get on the pitch will probably decide the future of his career. Sordell must have potential — indeed he’s shown it a couple of times — but watching to see whether he can finally deliver consistently will be the real thing to watch out for.
Also watch out for Sean Dyche. There’s more to him than meets the eye, and that might just surprise a few people this season.
Burnley’s season will be decided by how they fare as a unit. The team spirit and togetherness was a significant reason behind their success last season and the character of the side will need to be even stronger this time around. While tactical awareness and individual moments of glory will play their part, how long Burnley are willing to fight for each other and the club will also be important. If those things happen, I’m confident Burnley can beat the odds. It’s a big if, but if there’s any man who can get those things out of a side, it’s Sean Dyche.
BPF Prediction: 20th