Where do Sean Dyche and Burnley go next - Simon Evans column
With a fourth straight season of Premier League football now secured – the question arises as to where do Sean Dyche and Burnley go next?
It is hard to talk about ambition in the context of a small club with limited resources in the Premier League and the seventh-placed finish last season is as high as it is possible to go for a club outside of the division’s elite.
This season it was back to the basics of survival and doing so again won’t be easy.
But I suspect a fair number fans would probably like to see the Clarets develop their style of play and bring a little more entertainment to Turf Moor.
Burnley showed once more, against the Premier League champions and league leaders on Sunday, that they are masters at deep defending, that they have an impressive level of discipline and fitness and can close down and limit opponents.
The frustration tends to come in games at home to more modest opponents where the Clarets enjoy more possession but sometimes struggle to make the most of it.
The home draws with Huddersfield in the past two seasons spring to mind as do the home losses to West Brom, Newcastle and Crystal Palace.
In truth, the early parts of last season, did see the Clarets begin to perform in a more eye-catching and creative manner, but the loss of Steven Defour to injury hampered that evolution. This season, after the poor start to the campaign, the Clarets were just happy to refind the basic formula that has served them so well under Dyche.
I certainly wouldn’t expect to see a radical overhaul of the squad, nor a significant change of tactical direction.
Dyche knows he is in a results business and he has learnt over three seasons what works for him. The fact that he had a ‘basics’ to go back to when the team lost their way this season, shows there is a recipe that works.
But any club that fails to improve, or is content to tread water in the Premier League, will soon find themselves in trouble.
There is a phrase from the world of self-help and motivational literature that perhaps sums up the way ahead – ‘be the best version of yourself’. What would be the best Burnley possible?
I’d say a Burnley that has the qualities we have become used to but with an addition of creativity and pace.
We know there isn’t a big budget available and that the Clarets favoured market for players – the upper end of the Championship, has become much more expensive in the past few seasons. But there still appears a reluctance to bring in players from Europe and abroad – despite the fact that around 70 percent of the players in the Premier League are non-British.
I don’t expect Sean Dyche to change tack on this and bring in half a dozen foreign players but surely it makes sense to consider broadening the talent base that the Clarets look at for new recruits?
In terms, what kind of players the Clarets should be looking to bring in, I’d like to see a creative midfielder who can add to the hardworking, tireless approach of Jack Cork and Ashley Westwood with some of the craft and technique that we saw glimpses of from Defour. Another missing ingredient is a specialist holding midfielder, a physical presence to break-up attacks and protect the back-line. Up-front, Burnley really lack pace and it may also be time to look at freshening up options out wide.
Burnley managed to survive this season despite limited recruitment in the past three windows – this feels like a window where, if the club want to be the ‘best version of themselves’, some investment will be required.