Burnley are facing the prospect of a gruelling long relegation battle this season after what has been a very testing period on and off the field.
The Clarets endured one of the most frustrating summer transfer windows in recent memory, which saw only Dale Stephens arrive to add to the first team squad.
Will Norris was also brought in from Wolves, but he is clearly third choice and seen as little other than a backup to Nick Pope and Bailey Peacock-Farrell. Sean Dyche was vocal throughout the last few weeks of last season over the lack of forward planning in terms of players being allowed to run down their contracts.
On that basis progress has been made with the recent extensions for both Ashley Westwood and Dwight McNeil.
However, a recent statement from Burnley’s Chief Executive Neil Hart that fans would be happy with the summer business after keeping both James Tarkowski and McNeil was worryingly out of touch with the mood amongst the fanbase after the failure to strengthen.
Time for Dyche and Burnley squad to beat the odds once again
Burnley’s start to the campaign has been equally as challenging on the field as the summer was off it. The opening match against Manchester United was postponed and then three straight defeats followed against Leicester City, Southampton and Newcastle United.
Those three games saw the Clarets deliver worrying levels of performance with the usual defensive solidity found wanting and the players clearly lacking in confidence.
The goalless draw at West Brom at least provided some positives to build on. A first point picked up, as well as a first clean sheet, but it should have been more with both Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes wasting good chances.
Dyche claimed after the game that Burnley had been much more like themselves at the Hawthorns, but more is needed especially considering the next two games are against Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea.
Burnley have fought back from worst positions than this with the Clarets recovering after collecting just 12 points by Boxing Day in the 2018/19 season. However, Dyche equally had a much healthier squad to chose from and had options to make the changes that inspired a resurgence in form.
Given the lack of recruitment over the summer Burnley’s squad is as stretched as it has been since promotion back to the Premier League. Dyche must therefore work with what he has to turn things around.
The frustrations of Dyche and the rest of the squad over the summer’s activities must now be used as fuel to inspire a return to form. Burnley could well find themselves with just one point from six if they lose to both Tottenham and Chelsea, as would be expected on current form.
That would see them written off by many outside of the club. When written off and unfancied, though, is when historically Dyche’s Burnley have been at their best.
Dyche has achieved much during his time in charge, but if he can park his frustrations and turn things around once to keep the Clarets up, it would arguably be his greatest achievement yet.