English Premiership

Burnley up for EPL challenge

2014-08-15 13:11
Danny Ings (Getty Images)

Burnley - Burnley, the smallest club to have won the English league, return to the top flight for just the second season in 38 years knowing they will need to overcome the odds in almost every area if they are to survive in the Premier League.

The Clarets, who kick off their campaign against Chelsea on Monday, returned to the elite four years ago but lasted just a solitary season and most pundits are predicting a repeat this time around.

But the East Lancashire club showed with their promotion success last season, which was earned despite a small squad and limited budget, that they are capable of upsetting wealthier rivals.

Manager Sean Dyche's motivational ability, combined with a highly effective pressing game, turned a team made up of budget buys into one which earned their place in the top flight with some ease.

While other clubs have been spending big in the transfer market during the close-season, Dyche has been focused on keeping hold of his best talent and unlike some of his counterparts, he does not want to make an issue of his lack of spending power.

"There will be a vast gap in resources available but that's the reality of it - we have to look at what we have not what we don't have. There is no point in keep moaning about that - it just isn't there," he said.

While he makes no secret of his limited options in the market, the 43-year-old Dyche is quick to remind sceptics that his team made fools of the experts last season.

"Last year we had nowhere near the resources of the clubs that were supposedly going to be in the top six - nowhere near it. And there are probably eight Championship clubs right now that have a better resource base, higher wage level than we have.

"My point is - with all those factors we got promoted. It is about finding a way, it is not easy but it is about finding a way of operating that takes you where you want," he says.

PROLIFIC STRIKERS

The way Dyche found last year was to create a relentless pressing game that, with the help of his team's outstanding fitness, wore teams out. With the ball Burnley were positive with their possession and willing to mix in some direct play to their prolific strikers Sam Vokes and Danny Ings who scored 41 goals between them.

Welsh international Vokes will miss the opening few months of the season with new signing Lukas Jutkiewicz taking his place in attack.

Former West Ham midfielder Matt Taylor will bring some experience to the midfield but otherwise Dyche will start the campaign with the team which finished second behind Leicester in the Championship last term and he intends to stick with the main methods which worked in the second tier.

"You can tinker too much. It is about being flexible enough to know that there may be changes needed during the season - tactics etc, playing away from home, things like that. But if we radically change how the team has been operating for a year, I think that would be detrimental," he said.

Dyche hopes that closer to the end of the transfer window there may be some opportunities to strengthen his squad, despite believing that the "market has run away with itself" this year with some of the fees being demanded for players in the second tier.

In the former textile town of 87,000 there is no shortage of passion for the team but expectations are generally realistic for a club that was one game away from disappearing from professional football in 1987.

But come Monday, under the lights at a packed Turf Moor, the multi-million pound Chelsea team will face a Burnley side that Dyche will have instilled with the belief that they can compete - even against one of the title favourites.

"Who do you get in the Premier League who you think's going to be an easy one? I don't think there is such a thing," said Dyche. "We've got to play them all at some point. For sure it's a tough challenge - fantastic manager, fantastic club, fantastic team, and amazing power in the market.

"But there are no guarantees for anyone".

Read more on:    burnley  |  english premiership  |  soccer
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