Unbeaten in their last 16 league games (before Tuesday’s clash at home to Cardiff City), winning 11 of these, Burnley are becoming somewhat of an unstoppable force in this season’s Sky Bet Championship.
Burnley are an example, in a world full of Charlton Athletics, Aston Villas and Leeds Uniteds; of a club run in the right fashion. It seems, from the outside at least, that The Clarets have got things very right.
Burnley suffered the ignominy of relegation last season and fell out of the Premier League after just a solitary year. However, despite these days the seemingly done thing being to sack the relegating manager, the club board decided to stick with Sean Dyche. Dyche, the man that originally guided the Clarets to the top flight, would be given an opportunity to do so again. It seems it is an opportunity he is grabbing with both hands.
The Lancashire outfit recently posted a profit of over £30 million for the year 2014/15 – the season they were in the top flight. This figure does not include compensation for the loss of striker Danny Ings to Liverpool. There would have been a temptation to spend over the odds on players and wages to attempt at all costs to keep the club in the top flight, as some clubs do, but not a little foresight the Burnley board kept their powder relatively dry.
Now they have parachute payments, and a very realistic chance to be in the Premier League when the new mega-bucks TV deal comes into play next year. All this astute financial dealings has not limited Dyche to have some sway in the transfer market. Andre Gray was bought for around £6 million (when Bristol City were reportedly prepared to spend £9 million) proving that one can strike a balance between financial prudence (all of the Clarets debt is now paid off) and having a sizable transfer kitty. Well played Burnley. Well played.
Matters on the pitch are equally as rosy. The Championship promotion race is very intriguing, and is sure to have many more twists and turns on the way. But writing after 39 games played, it is very hard to make a case against Burnley going up automatically. The game on Tuesday 19th April versus Middlesbrough is likely to be the biggest of the season so far, but with home ties against Cardiff and Leeds before an away trip to Birmingham City, Dyche’s men look to be in a very good place. Especially on the back of their tremendous form.
Let’s paint the darkest picture – the worst case scenario (sorry Burnley fans). Let’s say the Turf Moor outfit snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and do not achieve promotion this season. I would still bank on Dyche’s men to be very strong in the Championship next season, with more clever transfer activity as well as their proven track record in either keeping, or adequately replacing star players.
Peripheral England goalkeeper Tom Heaton has remained an ever present since relegation, and Andre Gray and Matt Lowton are doing their level best to help Burnley fans forget Danny Ings and Kieran Trippier. The addition of Joey Barton has brought experience and a nasty, but perhaps necessary, bite to midfield; whilst signings like James Tarkowski have one eye for the future as the towering defender is still only 23 years of age and surely can get even better.
Will Burnley need big names if they go up, or are they happy with the equilibrium of ‘yo-yoing’ keeping the club in healthy financial state? Unfortunately, I do not have the answers to these questions. I’m not even 100% that Burnley will go up this year. That said, they will be a force under Sean Dyche for some time to come, due to, in no small part, the way the club is run. Burnley seem to have got things right.
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