Burnley season preview: Can Sean Dyche keep defying the odds?
By Nick Wright
Last Updated: 06/08/18 8:36am
In our Burnley season preview, we pick out the challenge facing Sean Dyche as he takes the Clarets in to Europe...
Last season: 7th
Title odds: 1000/1
Relegation odds: 7/2
Major ins: Ben Gibson
Major outs: Scott Arfield, Dean Marney, Josh Ginnelly, Tom Anderson, Rahis Nabi, Jordan Barnett, Arlen Birch, Brad Jackson, Samuel Layton, Harry Limb, Chris Long, Khius Metz, Jamie Thomas
Key player: Ashley Barnes
These are heady times for Burnley. Last season's seventh-placed Premier League finish was an extraordinary feat which defied just about everybody's expectations, and they are now competing in European competition for the first time in over half a century.
Their achievements will go down in the history books regardless of what happens next, but for Sean Dyche the challenge now is to keep it going. Burnley were brilliant last year, difficult to break down at the back and dangerous going forward, but the extra commitment of Europa League football could test their stamina and their squad depth.
There are more qualifying rounds to navigate before the group stages, of course, but European progress could become an issue if their summer continues as it has started. So far, the only addition is teenager Vinnie Steels from York City, with Dyche admitting the Clarets are struggling to bring in players due to the "crazy" transfer fees being touted by selling clubs.
"The challenge for us is to still try being successful and that means recruiting well but that's been as tough as it has ever been," he said last week. "We're wealthy in the sense of being a balanced club financially but we're not wealthy in Premier League terms. Everyone is looking down on us. We're the minnows of the Premier League."
Can the minnows keep swimming against the tide? They are trying to sign Ben Gibson, Jay Rodriguez and Sam Clucas, continuing the focus on British players which has worked so well for them in recent years, but much will depend on how many deals they can get over the line. The worry is that they could become victims of their own raised expectations.
Matt Le Tissier's verdict
It is going to be a very difficult season for Burnley because the expectation levels have risen. With Nick Pope injured and with Europa League obligations without a big squad, it is going to be a big challenge. The important thing for them is, who is going to score the goals? That's where they might struggle. If Wood or Barnes can get into double figures then they've got a chance.
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