Are Burnley heading for a relegation battle?

Amongst the wealth of the Premier League sit the proud name of Burnley.

A club steeped in tradition took its place back in the elite playing field in 2016 and after finishing 16th in their first season back the Clarets returned to European competition with a 7th place finish last year, a throwback to the glory days of the 1960’s when Burnley were one of England’s top teams.

Since then, it appears to have all gone wrong as five games into the season the club is still searching for it’s first win in this Premier League campaign, European football has already gone and after surviving the ‘second season syndrome’ where a lot of clubs struggle after a successful first season, the Clarets need to quickly re-discover that form to avoid being stuck in a relegation battle.

Manager Sean Dyche was talked about in circles as one of the promising English managers coming through as he led his team into a top ten finish and qualification for the Europa League. Having a low European pedigree and not being one of the top qualifiers, Dyche’s team started their season on 26th July with their first competitive action almost three weeks before the Premier League kicked off.

It’s harsh to be involved in cup competitions before kicking off a league season and before August was at it’s end so were the European hopes for at least another year.

Trying to balance at a smaller club the need to remain in the Premier League for financial purposes against the lucrative rewards being in Europe brings, albeit although not high in the Europa League compared to the Champions League, is something that brings about a huge challenge with a squad size equipped really to keep that league place intact.

The early season change to playing Thursday then Sunday is something a lot of clubs just can’t their heads around, even those who are regularly competing at the top end of the table. It can throw even the best players out of stride, Arsenal struggled regularly last season to replicate performances whilst playing in the Europa League.

There is a struggle for goals too, only three scored in those five league games whilst only Newcastle, Fulham and Huddersfield have conceded more, and so far they have only come up against Manchester United from the top six clubs.

Dyche’s sides are known for being physical, well drilled and hard to penetrate, but there appears to be a softness creeping into their play and despite having three quality goalkeepers on their books, work needs to be done in front of them before the team is deep in a rut they can’t get out of.

It’s seen year after year that a slow start means for a difficult season and results will dictate quickly where Burnley’s season will lie. With Cardiff, Bournemouth and Huddersfield their next three opponents, the Clarets will hope to be off and running by the time they face Manchester City.

There is no suggestion yet that Dyche is under pressure from the boardroom and you would hope time is given to turn things around, that might only be those three games, but expectation is now maybe higher given their finishing position last year and with this being very much a results business in the here and now instead of time to build solid foundations, Dyche may find there is very little room for maneuver in the coming weeks.


Written by Trevor Knell

Follow Trevor on Twitter @trevk37

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