After five seasons in the Premier League, fans of Burnley are fearful that their days amongst England’s elite are numbered, unless the club dips into the transfer market before the window’s close later this month.
Ahead of their season bow at home to Brighton on Saturday, Sean Dyche’s side have added only two outfield players to their squad and the Turf Moor faithful are beginning to twitch over their survival credentials.
American businessman Alan Pace and his ALK Capital Investment Group spent around £170m to take an 84% controlling stake in Burnley in January with the former Wall Street Banker moving to the UK from New York to take a hands-on role in running the Clarets.
But despite the promise of money to spend and new signings, Dyche’s squad looks painfully thin ahead of what is sure to be another tough campaign.
Burnley’s pre-season defeat to Cadiz last week reinforced the need for new signings, something the Clarets fans are more than aware of.
In their 2-0 loss to the Spanish outfit, Dyche was forced to utilise central midfielder Josh Brownhill on the right in the first half and full-back Erik Pieters on the left in the second.
To make matters worse, with Kevin Long and Dale Stephens sidelined, Burnley named a 10-man bench that included two goalkeepers and two youngsters with next to no Premier League game-time between them.
“With the new owners taking over, supporters were optimistic heading into the new season,” Burnley Aces tell FansBet.
“Our chairman Alan Pace said he’ll back Sean Dyche in the transfer window but so far that doesn’t seem to be happening.
“As supporters we want the club to be more ambitious, but at the same time, we are realistic about who we are. Being in the Premier League we can’t ask for anything more.”
But Ben from TurfCast isn’t getting too worried at the lack of transfer activity just yet.
💬 “A lot of fans are frustrated with how we’re standing still on the pitch… We need investment.”
— FansBet (@FansBet) August 12, 2021
“We would’ve liked to see more bodies come in but I’m not panicking just yet. A lot of the fans are but I’m not yet, I’m hoping that we can get two or three in between now and the end of the transfer window.
“We’ve seen links with Maxwell Cornet from Lyon and Ryan Christie from Celtic so we’ll see what happens, things are obviously happening. Aaron Lennon is apparently coming back and he’s definitely not the answer to our prayers – he’ll be another decent body for back-up but that’s about it.”
Dyche’s men finished 17th in the Premier League last season, one point below the traditional 40-point safety mark, though 11 clear of Fulham in 18th.
But whilst the Burnley faithful will not have the 2020/21 season down as one to remember, they will look back fondly on the side’s trips to Anfield and the Emirates at the turn of the year.
They won both games 1-0 with the victory over Liverpool meaning Burnley became the first team to win at Anfield in 68 games as Ashley Barnes‘ 83rd-minute penalty proved to be the match-winner.
And though Sean Dyche and his players can take plenty from such performances, unless there is significant activity before the transfer window closes on August 31, such moments might be few and far between this coming campaign.
“It’s been a difficult window so far for us,” says Burnley Aces. “We’ve only made two senior signings, Nathan Collins, who’s definitely one for the future and goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey who will be the number-2 to Nick Pope.
“Truthfully, Burnley need at least another four players to even compete at this level. I personally feel Burnley are left behind this season. Every club has spent in this window and I feel Burnley can’t even compete with the promoted teams.
“If Burnley were to finish 17th it would be a miracle. I fear for us this season, it could be the season we go down.”
Although Ben from TurfCast is remaining optimistic about the club’s transfer activity, he echoed Burnley Aces’ sentiment about their performance on the pitch and their squad depth off it.
“I think there is a feeling amongst fans recently over the last few years that the club is starting to stand still on the pitch,” he says.
“Three or four seasons ago, we finished seventh in one season and then we were 10th and around there, and people weren’t including us in the conversation about the relegation battle whereas now it’s every single season, we’re tipped to go down.
“We haven’t made a major transfer that’s slotted straight into the first team or who was bought specifically to go into the first team since we bought Chris Wood from Leeds in 2017.
“Brownhill and Taylor have come in and forced their way into the side but at first, they were brought in as back-ups. We do need more a bit more investment on the pitch, there was hope that the new owners would come in and do that – a lot of the right things were said but so far there’s been no major signings coming in.
“Nathan Collins is a decent acquisition and he probably will be a first-team player next season when James Tarkowski’s contract runs out at the end of this season, but we need creative players to come in.
“If you look at the team from last season to this season, it’s going to be the same starting eleven so there’s a slight frustration creeping in. I think the feeling amongst the majority of fans is that they’re starting to panic a little bit but we need investment.”
But with the likes of Wolverhampton Wanderers, Aston Villa and Leeds United coming into the Premier League and hitting the ground running and investing heavily in their sides, pressure on those who have been in the top-flight for longer will naturally grow, along with the frustration of the fans.
For Wolverhampton Wanderers, the transition from the Championship to the Premier League seemed almost effortless. They never really looked like newcomers and never once felt out of place in their first season back.
That wasn’t just a happy coincidence, of course. Nuno Espírito Santo built a team that played in a very specific way, with clear strengths and players that suited his system. And there was substantial investment in the squad – something which certainly concerns TurfCast’s Ben.
“I do feel a few sides have come up and overtaken us,” he says.
“Not necessarily this season but in the last few seasons you’ve seen some decent sides and clubs promoted; Villa and Leeds for example and clubs with a bit of money, and both of those two fall into that category, especially Villa.
“Wolves were in League One when we first got promoted back to the Premier League and now they’ve come up and seem to be spending some money and getting some players in.
“I’m not overly fussed about doing anything too differently (on the pitch) – I would like to see us on the front foot a little bit more but I don’t want us to go full Stoke City and completely forget what’s done you so well for the last few years, change the system and get relegated – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
“The starting 11 that we’ve got should keep us up; we’ve got a solid backline, a very good goalkeeper and a very good striker in Chris Wood, but the midfield is an area that needs strengthening.
“I’m confident we’ll just stay up, but I do think it will be a fight.
“We should be okay this season but we’re going to need investment or if not, the squad – which is ageing as it is – is going to be too old to survive next season.”
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