The story of Burnley Football Club is a popular romance among fans. Like Bournemouth just a year before them, they rose from the sleeping giants in the Championship to take their place as minnows in the Premier League.
Neither Burnley or Bournemouth have since been relegated, achievements which must be accredited to Sean Dyche and Eddie Howe, their respective managers. Can they be considered minnows anymore?
Burnley, with no major honours since 1960, are in a place that Aston Villa, Nottingham forest and Ipswich Town; all with major European honours since then, have been unable to reach. Once “big” clubs are languishing in the second-tier while Burnley are surviving in the greatest league in the world.
To survive again is a different matter. The biggest hurdle is the first season, but the second season has historically been difficult for many a team. 22% of teams who survived their first season were relegated in their second season, meaning 58% of promoted clubs do not survive two seasons.
With the second lowest wage bill of any club in the top flight last season and with little happening in the transfer market, Burnley are second favourites to go down this season.
Burnley’s success last season was firmly built upon home form. 10 of their 11 wins last term were at Turf Moor. To survive again, they will either need to replicate this form for another year, or improve drastically on the road.
Unfortunately for them, other teams will know what to expect when they visit turf moor, and will likely play defensively. Realistically, Burnley must improve their away form.
Away from home, their rigid shape and military organisation was less effective, bearing only a solitary win over Crystal Palace. This organisation will only suffer further following the loss of England centre back Michael Keane to Everton. More worryingly however, there has been no news of a potential replacement.
Along with Keane, they have also lost George Boyd, Michael Kightly and Joey Barton, all of whom have been released. Clarets fans will be less worried by the loss of these players, yet still no direct replacements have been signed.
Burnley’s business is rather exploding into action this week though. Left back Charlie Taylor has been brought in on a free transfer from Leeds to replace the ageing Stephen Ward, while a bid of £3 million has been accepted for Stoke forward Jonathan Walters and an £8 million bid has been rejected for Nottingham Forest striker Britt Assombalonga.
The news in Lancashire is that these bids are a desperate attempt to replace the outgoing Andre Gray, whose stalled contract talks have prompted rumours of a switch to West Ham.
Sean Dyche will inevitably look to sign a centre back, while a proven Premier League striker should also be high on his list. This will be Dyche’s hardest season yet. Whatever happens in the coming months, The Clarets should be proud of where they are: the Premier League.
The description of a “big” club has gone out of the window. “Little” Burnley is little no more. With £5 billion coming in from TV rights, any club that can make it to the promised land will have money they have never accessed before. To survive means Burnley are a big club. In England, at least.
Written by Sam Hanys.